Steven Gerrard’s Premier League form tailed off a bit in the last two seasons under both Dalglish and Roy Hodgson. At 32 at the start of the season, some pundits may have been ready to write off Liverpool’s talismanic captain, but he has evolved under Brendan Rodgers and been a consistently good performer for the side this season.
|Tackle Success||50-50 Success||Mins per possession lost||Pass accuracy||Passes forward||Av. Passes||Mins per goal||Mins per chance created|
A look at Gerrard’s statistics this season demonstrate a clear shift from last year. Notably he is the league’s fourth highest passer this season with 67 passes per game, a stark increase from last year. Further to this, his tackling stats are now superior with a much better 50-50 tackle success and he loses the ball less frequently. This all suggests that he is a more defensive player now, having converted into a very effective deep-lying midfielder as we can see by the fact that fewer of his passes go forward.
Whilst he makes more chances this season, Gerrard is only making clear cut chances this season once every 607.5 minutes compared to every 242.2 minutes last year, which further suggests he is taking up a more reserved role for this side this season. As well as this, whilst Gerrard has scored more goals this season, he is scoring less frequently, which again suggests that he is playing a more reserved role for his side.
Gerrard’s move to a deep-lying midfielder
Undoubtedly he has taken up a much deeper position this season, recently alongside Lucas in the midfield pivot. In fact, his own rise in prominence has cost £15 million Joe Allen his place in the team. Gerrard was more of a support striker or attacking midfielder in recent years at Anfield, often playing with far less defensive responsibility That makes his current transition to a more disciplined central midfielder even more impressive as the midfielder is experiencing a relative renaissance this season, despite being 32.
A look at Gerrard’s heat map from Liverpool’s 3-0 win against Everton last season demonstrates what an advanced player he was:
His movement is all over the pitch, demonstrating that he played without a huge degree of discipline in what was essentially a free role from midfield. There is no real concentration to his movement other than that he is covering a lot of the pitch.
However, if we compare this to Gerrard’s heat map from his side’s 5-0 win against Swansea in the Premier League from a week ago we can see how his role has shifted:
Gerrard’s movement is concentrated almost exclusively in his own half as he looked to protect his back four and distributed the ball forward. In this game he was very effective and it is actually indicative of a wider tactical change in Gerrard’s game. If with Coutinho the side move to a 4-2-3-1 we might see Gerrard play at the base of the midfield on a more obvious basis alongside Lucas. This partnership at the heart of Liverpool’s midfield has certainly been one of the key aspects of the clubs season.
Brendan Rodgers has certainly converted Gerrard from a box to box/attaching midfielder into a more progressive ball-playing defensive midfielder. Unlike in previous years, Gerrard is now a very disciplined players which is represented in his statistics and in his heat maps. He now spends the majority of his game picking up the ball and keeping his sides’ possession ticking over with sideways passes. This shows that there is plenty of life left in Gerrard yet and his tactical evolution might continue.