At 32, the expectations from Steven Gerrard are still very high. Not just to be the leader of a struggling Liverpool club and to be one that pulls them out of the mud; but to be, along with Luis Suarez, the executing force on a side that has trouble finding the net plenty of times. Problem is, he might not be up to it anymore.
Brendan Rodgers has been criticized for a lot of things; one of them is his use of Steven Gerrard. What some fail to understand is that Liverpool have no defensive midfielder, as Lucas Leiva spends more time on the healing bed that isn’t working. Joe Allen, on paper, is the DM, but he isn’t capabale of filling and playing in that role without help. This makes the entire Liverpool midfield take a step backwards and attempt to defend as a unit.
So far this season it’s been Steven Gerrard (healthy for once) and someone else in the trio – Nuri Sahin, Jordan Henderson or the more attacking Jonjo Shelvey. While Rodgers still hasn’t figured out what to do with everyone, as his tactics and choice of players change from match to match (Jose Enrique as somewhat of a winger, not too bad so far), he seems to have turned Gerrard into a much more withdrawn player after being known for years as one of the best midfielders in the world, mostly thanks for his ability to join the attack and create or finish.
Numbers don’t lie. Gerrard scored 36 league goals during Bentiez’ last three season at Liverpool. Since then, under Hodgson, Dalglish and Rodgers, Gerrard has only 10. It has to do with his injuries and very possibly a decline in form. At 32, his physical attributes don’t allow him those surging runs forwards, and physical dominance was a big part of his game throughout his career. He has 1 goals and 2 assists this season, averaging 2.4 shots at goal per match. With Luis Suarez as the only attacking and goal-scoring option (10 goals, the rest of the scorers with 1 each), you’d expect Gerrard to venture a bit more forward, and take a lot more chances.
Steven has always been the player who makes the difference over the years and, OK, he may not have had the goals this season that he has wanted but he has still been effective. There has been nothing more or less I have asked in terms of defensive responsibilities. “He has had to take on more of a mantel because it is a much younger group. In the past he has played in teams with more experience around him and I think that is the biggest change this year. There is more responsibility on him to look out for the team because of the youthfulness of the team and he has been brilliant. He is a phenomenal player and a great presence for us.
In the meantime Steven and the other players are showing a good level of consistency. We just need that wee fraction of good fortune. We could have had another two points from the Everton game and the Swansea game. That’s another four points and we are right there up and about it.
Playing against a Tottenham side at White Hart Lane, a place where Liverpool lost 4-0 last season and have failed to come up with a point from since the 2007-2008 season isn’t the best way to hope for Gerrard’s resurgence as a goalscorer to begin.