Liverpool's performances this season have been schizophrenic to say the least. However, it was to be expected from the off, given the change in personnel and the shift in recruitment strategy. One of the strengths in years gone by has been the midfield. A host of great names who complimented each other greatly. I still think we are finding the balance in midfield under Brendan Rodgers. Sometimes it feels like a compromise. I feel we often have to sacrifice one facet of our game for another.
Lucas Return Vital
The return of Lucas was long overdue and one all Liverpool fans pined for. Strange that he has become so integral after what was a difficult start to his Anfield career. Now he is a mainstay, filling that line in front of the defence and halfway line imperiously. It's taken time for him to get back to his previous levels but with each passing game he grows stronger. There were a few meaty tackles against West Brom, one almost culminating in a goal from the loose ball, and he was one of the few Liverpool players in that game who emerged with credit.
Mixed Fortunes for Henderson & Allen
Then we have polar opposites in Jordan Henderson and Joe Allen. Players who look like they would compliment each other rather than compete for that starting berth. Henderson has shown his versatility in a number of positions and has gradually won over the Liverpool faithful, taking the chance afforded to him by Allen's drop in standards. Moving onto Joe, what a start he had to his Anfield career. Demonstrated his full range of skills and ball retention abilities. Watching him brought back memories of how difficult opponents found it to get the ball from Didi Hamann. Sadly for Joe, I think the pressures and general reliance took its toll on him, and he looked a bit jaded before he was consigned to the bench for a prolonged recuperation. Hopefully not long before he's back to his best.
Next we move onto the most controversial midfield dilemma. The Gerrard conundrum. It haunted Roy Hodgson, it haunted Kenny Dalglish. Now the ghosts haunt Rodgers. I remember watching Gerrard play against Everton twice in a week a couple of seasons ago, once in the cup and once in the league. He played 'in-the-hole' in one and in midfield in the other. Both games he scored, and was just as influential. I think the one issue Gerrard has is the killer ball from deep. Oft-times there is an easier pass to keep the ball moving, and he will attempt the most challenging pass. He has the range certainly as his balls to the flanks show, but coming from deeper, a ten yard ball has now become a 20-yard ball and is cut out much easier. Take yesterday for example, he tried a through ball from fully thirty yards. If it had got through it would have sent Coutinho racing clear, but because of the distance a Swansea boot ultimately cut it out. It was a ball that needed to be played another ten yards up the pitch. Gerrard is capable of the position but does it go against his instincts to play there?
Liverpool's Best Midfield
So I guess this is the part where you put your money where your mouth is. For me, we definitely need the energy of Henderson in there. Lucas is a must given his role, and our new cavalier 'devil-may-care' full-backs. Which leaves that last place the elephant in the room. Perhaps when we miss Sturridge like against Zenit, we could see Gerrard reprise his role just behind Suarez.