For many years, pundits and fans alike have claimed that Frank Lampard and Steven Gerrard are too similar to play together for England and it should be one rather than both that make the starting line-up.
However, after playing the second half together against Brazil, and with both player’s changing their role this season, is this still the case?
Frank Lampard has played in a much deeper role this season along-side a defensive midfielder in Chelsea’s 4-2-3-1 formation, compared to previous years when he has played as part of three-man midfield or even behind the main striker.
Lampard’s new role in the Chelsea midfield is to build play and to keep the ball moving for Chelsea’s new influx of creative players such as Mata, Hazard and Oscar to create the chances for Torres and Demba Ba.
This change of role has really shown in Lampard’s stats, especially his passing and creativity stats.
Frank Lampard change of role at Chelsea
Frank Lampard has played a pass every 1.4 minutes this season compared to every 1.5 minutes last season. He has made an accurate pass every 1.7 minutes in both seasons but the main difference is that 14% more of his passes this season are going sideways as he is now looking to keep hold of possession instead of trying to make something happen.
Lampard has also made 10% less forward passes and 5% more of his passes in his own half this season compared to last season, again down to his change of role in the Chelsea team. Lampard has also played a through ball only twice this season (every 523 minutes) which is 421 minutes less often than last season and entered the final third of the pitch every 9.1 minutes compared to every 8.6 minutes last season.
Frank Lampard’s creativity stats have also changed drastically this season due to his new role in the Chelsea team.
Frank has created a chance every 65 minutes this season, compared to every 41 minutes last season and created a chance from open play every 87 minutes this season compared to every 66 minutes last season.
It has taken Lampard 1046 minutes to create a clear-cut chance this season, which is 596 minutes less often than last season and Lampard has no assists this season compared to the four he garnered last season (an assist every 563 minutes).
These stats help to show how Lampard’s role has changed, but the fact that he is still scoring regularly for Chelsea shows how well he has adapted to his new role.
Frank Lampard is Chelsea’s joint top goalscorer with 10 goals this season, six of which have come from open play. This shows that Lampard’s timing of his runs into the box and his eye for goal are still second to none and his deeper role may have made his runs into the box more difficult to pick up.
So, with Lampard’s new role at Chelsea, coupled with the fact that Roy Hodgson’s tends to play Steven Gerrard in a more defensive role for England, this partnership could finally work for England.
However, is this the perfect role for Steven Gerrard?
Steven Gerrard has been one of the most creative players in the Premier League this season notching nine assists, which is the joint most in the Premier League, and creating 66 chances, with only Luis Suarez and Leighton Baines more creative than the Liverpool captain.
Gerrard has created a chance every 39 minutes this season, a chance from open play every 61 minutes and an assist every 250 minutes this season. He has also created a clear-cut chance every 563 minutes.
As well as being creative this season, Steven Gerrard has also scored six goals at a rate of a goal every 375 minutes. The midfielder has converted 16% of his chances and got 50% of his shots on target.
Steven Gerrard’s deeper role has revamped him this season with his creativity better than ever. Steven has already equalled his best ever assists total in a Premier League season so it seems he’s making this deeper midfield position his own.
Conclusion – Can Frank Lampard and Steven Gerrard Play Together?
Frank Lampard and Steven Gerrard are more suited to play alongside each other for England now both players have adjusted to their new roles at their clubs, but I don’t see this happening.
Gerrard’s positional sense coupled with Wilshere’s energy helped England’s passing game immensely and the tempo never dropped for the whole 90 minutes against Brazil.
However, England may be liable on the counter attack as teams could be able to draw Wilshere out and take advantage of Gerrard’s defensive frailties and slight lack of pace.
The only way I can see an England team with both Gerrard and Lampard in is if Wilshere is injured. England could take advantage of both players strengths with the introduction of a player such as Michael Carrick.
This would allow Steven Gerrard to occupy a more advanced role in the England team and with Carrick alongside him Lampard could take up the role that he currently occupies with Chelsea.
Steven Gerrard could be better suited to a more attacking role for England as his creativity stats for Liverpool suggest, however Jack Wilshere and Tom Cleverely are in front of Lampard in the pecking order and I cannot see a Gerrard – Lampard partnership in England’s centre midfield anytime soon.
All of the stats from this article have been taken from the Opta Stats Centre at EPLIndex.com – Subscribe Now (Includes author privileges!) Check out our new Top Stats feature on the Stats Centre which allows you to compare all players in the league & read about new additions to the stats centre.