Steven Gerrard is undoubtably one of the greatest Premier League players – however, can he still compete at the top level?
As a West Ham fan I was delighted when I saw that Gerrard was going to be playing in his new deep position when the two sides met last weekend. Sam Allardyce was happy to concede possession and instead play a fast counter-attacking style of football. The Reds duly delivered their possession style football but so rarely managed to create chances. Gerrard made the fourth most passes but this was more to do with the fact that The Hammers were sitting deep and allowing the passes between the Liverpool defenders – the ex-England captain’s most common pass destinations were Martin Skrtel and Dejan Lovren – passes which are completely ‘safe’ from a West Ham point of view.
Stevie G’s passing range is still as good as ever and as a result he is still ‘pinging’ long balls across the pitch, which sometimes triggers a Liverpool attack but not as often as the Liverpool fans would like. When Luis Suarez was at Liverpool last year, Gerrard managed to bag 11 assists and the majority were assisting the now Barcelona man. Is the loss of Suarez affecting Gerrard’s performances in terms of assists and overall contribution to attacking play? Of course having a player of Suarez’s quality helps creative midfielders greatly but surely Gerrard could put a goal on a plate for anyone?
In my opinion, there’s no doubting that Gerrard still has the ability to rule the Premier League but Brendan Rodgers is wasting one of the league’s true greats. Steven has been moved into a deeper role – which happens to many ageing midfielders – however, it’s now his role to dictate play from deep and in a team like Liverpool that’s not a particularly tricky role to maintain.
Most football fans would describe Andrea Pirlo as the best example of a deep-lying playmaker. He dictates the tempo for Italy and Juventus at the ripe old age of 35; he generally covers very little distance in this role but does contribute to assists and a few goals here and there.
I still feel that Gerrard would outshine most centre-midfielders in the Premier League if he was allowed to take a more advanced position as he did in his younger years. Despite his fantastic passing range I just don’t think that Gerrard suits the deep role. It keeps the 34-year-old out of the way too much. He has scored 113 Premier League goals – including some of the all-time best – however, he now is relying on set-pieces to affect the match. Out of his last 18 goals, 17 have been either a penalty or a free-kick.
Seeing Gerrard’s name on the team-sheet used to inject fear into the opposition as they desperately tried to stop him from scoring or assisting a mass amount of goals. However, opposition sides know now that he is only really a danger from set-pieces in his new role.
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