The fixture between Liverpool and Stoke marked 16 years since Steven Gerrard’s debut, which was against Blackburn Rovers. However, Gerrard had a similar spot to when he was 16, as he started on the bench to the surprise of many fans. With Gerrard being such an iconic figure at Anfield there was an element of surprise with many fans. Although Liverpool had only won 2 of the last 8 games Rodgers decided to only start 1 of his summer signs; Rickie Lambert.
The match was billed as a must win for Liverpool and the pressure was clearly on both Brendan Rodgers and his players. In the absence of Gerrard, Jordan Henderson took over the captaincy and rose to the occasion well by having a well-rounded performance as Liverpool took the ascendancy in the first 15 minutes. However, the game became more equal for the remaining 30 minutes of the half but neither team was able to place a shot on target. Surprisingly Stoke dominated possession in the first half having 56% of the ball in the opening 45. This shows where Liverpool are at this moment in time as the game style is stale and players are running low in confidence.
The second half began with the same line up and 10 minutes into the half Steven Gerrard was sent to warm up and got a standing ovation from the Anfield crowd, showing that he is still a crowd favourite despite playing poorly in recent games. Liverpool began to push forward for a goal but to no avail as Stoke held strong at the back and played on the break. This was highlighted by a fast break, which ended with Bojan hitting the near post as Stoke had the best chance of the game until this point. This led to the first change from Liverpool and saw Steven Gerrard be subbed on for Coutinho on the 70th minute. This received the largest cheer of the afternoon as the crowd showed their appreciation for the club captain.
Liverpool began to once again take control and got the breakthrough from the unlikely source of Glen Johnson who scored a header from close range and took a nasty blow to the head while doing so. Liverpool saw out the remainder of the game and picked up a crucial 3 points. We will find out if they can use this to kick start there stuttering season as they now sitting 5 points of 4 place. It has also been revealed that Rodgers was unaware of Gerrard’s land mark occasion and also stated that there is no feud between the two.
Fast forward to Tuesday night Leicester and Steven Gerrard finds himself playing further up the field as the number 10 for Liverpool FC. He’s playing off of Lambert with Sterling and Lallana running ahead of him. Liverpool started poorly and could have conceded an early goal when Cambiasso pounced on a poor Mignolet pass but shot wide with an empty net gaping!
Steven Gerrard was largely anonymous in the first half as Leicester went ahead through a Mignolet own goal (it just wasn’t his night) and Liverpool equalised through Lallana to go into the break level. A different Gerrard seemed to come out for the second half. A Gerrard that made a few more runs and was attacking a lot better and then for the first time since February 2013 it happened: Steven Gerrard scored a goal from open play (the header from a corner against Everton classes as a set piece) to send Liverpool into the lead. The skipper was also denied a penalty when he was in one-on-one against Schmeichel Jnr and it appeared that the keeper had brought him down. Gerrard was awarded man of the match for his performance and whilst Liverpool went onto score another goal through Henderson to it was Gerrard’s goal that was the all deciding goal in the game. Sixteen years of service and still a match winner!
Looking at some of his stats Steven Gerrard scored the second goal but also created two chances whilst having a passing accuracy of 90%. The passing map above (via Squawka) shows his passing range in the game yesterday. Below you can see his heat map which indicates that Gerrard didn’t really hold a position and was floating all over the pitch.
In between both games it had been reported that Gerrard had also been offered a new 1 year contract which Liverpool have confirmed, but we wait to see if Gerrard will remain at his boyhood club.