Gerrard providing more questions than answers this season

This week has been a good one for Liverpool. A 4-1 demolition of Portsmouth and a 3-0 rout of Lille last night redeemed for losses against Wigan and Lille last week. One player in particular who did well last night was Steven Gerrard, who scored Liverpool’s first goal from the penalty spot. But this good performance was part of what has been an up and down season for the Liverpool captain, which has been typified by recent incidents like flashing the “V” sign at referee Andre Marriner last week and elbowing Michael Brown against Portsmouth on Monday.

Liverpool have struggled this season, getting dumped out of the Champions League at the group stages, falling away in the title race and getting humiliated by Reading in the FA Cup Part of this is down to injuries to key players like Gerrard and Fernando Torres, and partly due to some players not performing to the best of their abilities. But is this season just a blip for the midfielder, or something more serious?

Take Gerrard’s stats this season: in 35 games for Liverpool, he has scored 9 goals and has 8 assists. This is a massive step back from previous years, where he scored 24 goals in the last campaign and 19 goals the season before. If you compare Gerrard’s form this season with similar players at other clubs, then the Liverpool captain’s record pales in comparison. For instance, Frank Lampard has scored 15 goals for Chelsea this season, and has 12 assists. Cesc Fabregas has scored 17 goals for Arsenal and has 16 assists.

So what is the reason for the Liverpool captain’s slump in form? Part of the reason for Gerrard’s lack of form this season is a result of Xabi Alonso’s departure from Anfield last summer. With Alonso in the side last year, Gerrard could operate as a second striker behind Torres, safe in the knowledge that Alonso and Mascherano would boss the midfield and deliver the ball up to him so he could create chances for Torres. Without Alonso, and with Aquilani barely featuring, Gerrard has had to drop deeper to get the ball and this has taken away some of his attacking ability. There have been tell-tale signs of discontent when you look at Gerrard’s body language this season, as the midfielder is obviously frustrated with his struggling team-mates and that is why he has had to drop deeper to have more influence on the game.

Another reason could be the court case Gerrard was involved in last summer, where he was found not guilty for causing actual bodily harm. There is also the incident where four masked men broke in to Gerrard’s house and threatened his wife, which is now going through the courts. These incidents has obviously preyed on the Liverpool midfielder’s mind, and that could be why he is not performing at the top of his game this season, as he is not solely concentrating on football matters.

The injury problems Gerrard has had this season haven’t helped his form either. A niggling groin injury has meant that Gerrard has had to play through the pain barrier to help his team stay in the hunt for fourth place, which goes a long way to explain why Gerrard’s performances this season have failed to reach the heights of previous years.

So what do you think is the reason for Gerrard’s sub-par performances this season? Is it the injury problems he has had to deal with this year? Has there been a fall-out with Rafael Benitez? Or is it just the inconsistent form of his teammates that is dragging him down?

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