Answer to Liverpool’s Gerrard question? Drop him & here’s why

The dust has well and truly settled on Steven Gerrard’s announced move to LA Galaxy at the end of the season, and his now almost weekly exclusions from Brendan Rodgers’ starting XI are no longer the shock they were made out to be during the opening half of the campaign.

Gerrard was out of the squad entirely for the impressive 2-0 home win over top half rivals West ham last weekend, with injury an issue for him, and it’s fair to say that the Reds did not miss their skipper. The victory, capped by Daniel Sturridge’s return and goal, sort of hinted at a change in times at Anfield, with the striker now boasting an almost talismanic feel to his presence, while Gerrard’s omission was barely even a talking point after the referee’s first whistle had sounded.

So, is it time to axe ‘Captain Fantastic’ from the XI altogether? Maybe, and here are FIVE reasons why…

His decline has been alarming this season

Gerrard

Let’s get the big one out of the way, Steven Gerrard is not getting any younger. At the age of 34, ‘Stevie G’ is clearly at the back end of his career, albeit a glittering one, but last season it seemed as if he’d been give a new lease of life as a ‘holder’. However, whether it be tactical adaptations from opposition, the multiple blows of that slip against Chelsea and the World Cup disaster or just time catching up with his limbs, things have gone badly wrong this term.

Gerrard stats

As the stats show, Gerrard has fallen quite spectacularly (stop laughing, Chelsea fans) this term, with his numbers in terms of goals, shooting, passing and tackling having dropped off a cliff. Okay, Liverpool have also been struggling, yet the ‘Gerro’ of old may have been able to drag himself, and the team, forward, which hints that the years are finally getting the better of him.

Lucas & Henderson are running the show right now

Henderson Lucas

Captain in waiting and a cult hero in the stands of Anfield, Henderson and Lucas have established a settled and effective midfield partnership in recent times. The pair’s allegiance in the middle really kicked in at the turn of the year as Brendan Rodgers switched to a 3-4-2-1 set-up, and it’s fair to say that they have been impressive, which is backed up by results since (Liverpool would be top of the Premier League had the season started in 2015).

Henderson has been, occasionally, used in a wing-back role, but Rodgers’ move towards deploying Gerrard in one of his attacking positions to partner Lucas and the vice-captain in the middle suggests that he’s impressed by their relationship (their combination was particularly effective in both legs of the Capital One Cup semi-final loss against Chelsea).

Sterling, Sturridge & Coutinho are a deadly threesome

As mentioned before, Gerrard has been increasingly nudged up the field over the course of the past few weeks after last season’s decision to edge him towards his own goal. But, Daniel Sturridge’s return from injury now throws up a whole new problem, with Raheem Sterling, Philippe Coutinho and the aforementioned marksman clearly the Reds’ best attacking trio.

The threesome embody all that Rodgers wants from his teams, with pace, movement, bravery on the ball and dazzling skill traits they possess. Although Gerrard is by no means a poor player – in fact he’s one of the best England and Liverpool have ever produced – he’s simply not quite as suited to what is needed as his competitors.

High-tempo pressing proven to be Rodgers’ most effective game plan

Liverpool last season were a blur of red, buzzing across the pitch and blowing teams away within half an hour of play (eh, Arsenal!) thanks to their relentless pressure on the ball and lightening quick attacking moves. An alteration to a more ponderous approach – perhaps brought by Mario Balotelli’s addition – at the start of the season clearly didn’t work, and now Rodgers has reverted back to means, with his 3-4-2-1 built around movement and attacking intent.

Gerrard, at almost 35, is no longer the physical specimen he was, reflected by a semi retirement, move to LA Galaxy at the end of the season, so maybe it’s time to phase him out…

No room for sentiment in football

Gerro

Football is, quite often, filled with narratives. One story that clearly echoes through Gerrard’s career is ‘local lad, come good’, as the midfielder was born and raised on Merseyside, supporting the Reds – albeit there are picture of him in an Everton shirt…

However, despite the sentiment involved and the ‘last hurrah’ feeling around Gerrard’s final few months at Anfield, Liverpool have to do what’s best for their future, and that is pushing hard to get back into the Champions League for financial gain, and they may be better off without Stevie for that…