Why Gerrard must be dropped for Liverpool to succeed
After his unfortunate slip against Chelsea last season, there is surely no Liverpool player more desperate than Steven Gerrard to help his side win the Premier League title this year.
However, the Reds best chance of making good on their 9/1 odds to win the title is to drop their captain, who, at 34, looks too sluggish to operate in the heart of their midfield.
Southampton youngster James Ward-Prowse ran riot at Anfield in the space that Gerrard and Lucas were meant to be covering in front of their back four.
New Saints signing Dusan Tadic also got in on the act, coming inside off his flank to set up Nathaniel Clyne’s equaliser.
After watching that game, Brendan Rodgers will surely know he faces an impossible choice – risk the wrath of every Reds fan by dropping an Anfield legend, or sacrifice the balance of his midfield.
Gerrard’s passing range remains impressive; he completed 10 long balls against Southampton, more than any player on the pitch, but he doesn’t have the defensive nous or physical presence to play in a double-pivot.
The 34-year-old made just one tackle and one interception all game, a huge contrast to the numbers posted by Morgan Schneiderlin and Victor Wanyama for Southampton.
The French midfielder made three tackles and two interceptions, while Wanyama logged a massive nine tackles and two interceptions.
You would expect Southampton players to do more defensive work than their hosts at Anfield, but it’s worth noting that the Saints took the same amount of shots as Liverpool, with 12.
Only the smart finishing of Daniel Sturridge and Raheem Sterling, and Shane Long’s generosity, stopped the Reds dropping points at home, and better sides will take full advantage of the space afforded by Gerrard’s ineffective presence in midfield.
Lucas was equally poor, and if Rodgers’ side are to stand a chance in their next game at Man City, a match they are 3/1 to win, Emre Can and Joe Allen should line-up alongside Jordan Henderson from the start.
All odds and markets correct as of the date of publishing
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