Steven Gerrard has always been one to strive to be the very best. Some may argue that he could have been even better had he taken the chance to leave his underachieving boyhood club and gone on to the riches of Chelsea, and that may well be the case, but with Frank Lampard set to be discarded at the end of the season, Gerrard is able to prolong his Premier League career. The Liverpool captain has recently stated his desire to return to the form of the earlier stages of his career, but surely given his age, he will have to adapt his game (à la Giggs and Scholes), and thus may never rediscover his goalscoring form of old. Here we take a look at his statistics to see how well the ever-present midfielder has done this season.
One of only two midfielders or attackers - along with Mikel Arteta - to play every minute of football available to him in the Premier League this season, Steven Gerrard has once again become a key component in Liverpool's machine. His advancing years have seen him occupy a deeper position than he did when he was younger, playing in what many consider his best position in an attacking midfield position only twice this season. Those games have produced no goals or assists for the skipper, while when he has started in a defensive midfield role (9 times) he has been directly involved in 8 goals, scoring 2 and assisting 6 more, whilst also scoring 2 and assisting 2 more when playing in an orthodox central midfield role.
So is Gerrard being harsh on himself by saying he has had a mixed season, in particular by stating that he has been disappointed by his goal return? Yes, there have been disappointments in that his side are down in 8th in the table, but on a personal level is there really much room for improvement? Marouane Fellaini (8), Santi Cazorla (7) and Kevin Nolan (5) are the only attacking midfielders to score more than Gerrard, while compatriot Lampard (6) is the only player to play primarily in central or defensive midfield this season but score more goals than him, and the Chelsea player does not have a single assist to his name, while Gerrard has more than any other player in the English top flight (8).
It is only natural that Gerrard has had to adapt his game, but some things have remained the same. He has always been ambitious in his play, a fact exhibited in his 55 shots this season; his conversion rate of only 7.3% is arguably something to work on, in spite of the fact that his 4 goals is bettered by few in the league.
He has also retained his ambitious passing, with only Yaya Toure (1162) and Cazorla (1107) having attempted more passes in the opposition half than Gerrard (996), yet Gerrard has played more unsuccessful passes than any other player in the opposing half, with 273. Much of this is down to the Liverpool captain's relentless crossing, which has been the source of a few of his assists but has also seen him make the third most unsuccessful crosses in the division (118). The ambitious nature of his play can also be seen from the unsurprising fact that the England international has played the second most accurate long balls (161), behind only Stoke goalkeeper Asmir Begovic (177).
Gerrard's ever presence can go some way to explain his presence at the top of all of these charts, but in a team where Brendan Rodgers has struggled to settle on a consistent starting eleven - albeit often due to injuries - with no fewer than 7 players having occupied the DMC, MC and AMC roles for Liverpool this season, Gerrard has been consistent than therefore become the one to rely upon.
There is no arguing with the fact that Steven Gerrard is scoring fewer goals than he used to manage for both club and country, and he may well not be as effective a player as he used to be. However, as players get older they are forced into adapting their game to prolong their careers. While the likes of Beckham, and possibly Lampard to follow, go abroad to play at a lower level, Gerrard has everything within himself to become the complete deep-lying central midfielder it seems Rodgers is attempting to mould him into. All the ingredients are there for another 4 or 5 years of his playing at the top, and while that may mean fewer goals and thus a dissatisfied Gerrard, it would be fantastic to see him carry on for the foreseeable future.
This article was written for our friends at TEAMtalk and Football365