Having been left red-faced by dropping resting Steven Gerrard for the 16th anniversary of the midfielder’s Liverpool debut in the weekend win over Stoke, Brendan Rodgers had a right to feel rather smug as his recalled captain played a key part in the Reds latest triumph, over Leicester.
Gerrard is starting to reach the point of his career where his performance levels can remain high, provided he isn’t playing every minute of every week.
Like Manchester United midfield stalwarts Paul Scholes and Ryan Giggs in the past and Manchester City loanee Frank Lampard in the present, Gerrard can be coaxed into keeping the twilight of his stellar career at bay if he’s managed correctly.
In a struggling side – Liverpool remain five points off the top four, and 11/4 to finish there, despite their consecutive recent wins – any move that involves your captain not playing is going to raise eyebrows, but it is actually worthwhile, as the trip to the King Power stadium showed.
With energy back in his legs, the Liverpool number eight was a commanding presence in midfield, scoring his team’s second and having a hand in the third.
It all came from an advanced position at the tip of the diamond, a role the former England skipper was able to perform admirably given the extra rest.
Gerrard’s natural instinct has always been attacking, but under Rodgers it was assumed that the best way to preserve the 34-year-old’s playing days was to ask him to perform quarterback duties as the anchor of the midfield, simultaneously conserving his energy.
Emulating the 35-year-old Andrea Pirlo has come with mixed results for the Whiston native though, and it was marked that Gerrard’s best performance of the season came when restored to his natural habitat.
If the evidence at Leicester didn’t convince Rodgers that this is the strategy he must adopt with his captain in the future then nothing will.
All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.
Fancy a flutter? Sign up today to claim up to £25 in free bets.