24 Apr 2008

Steven Gerrard goes missing against Chelsea once again...

After the recent victory against Arsenal in the Champions League quarter final at Anfield, Steven Gerrard labeled his performance as one of the worst he’d ever put produced in a Liverpool shirt. Two weeks later, Gerrard should hold his hands up again and admit that his non-performance against Chelsea last night was arguably even worse.

What is it about Gerrard and England’s top teams? Whether it is Chelsea, Arsenal or Manchester United, he never seems to perform. When was the last time Gerrard actually inspired Liverpool against any of the aforementioned teams? A cursory examination of Liverpool’s dire record against the top three during Raga’s reign reveals the disappointing answer.

Against Chelsea, Liverpool’s supposed ‘Captain Fantastic’ was typically anonymous and operated on the periphery of the action – misplacing passes, running around like a headless chicken and generally avoiding responsibility.

His only contribution to the game was a great volley near the end of the game, which was saved by Petr Cech. Liverpool fans may be satisfied with one positive contribution in 95 minutes of football, but I feel someone who is supposedly ‘world class' should be offering more in such an important game.

So why did Gerrard play so badly? The main reason has to be 4-2-3-1 formation – it works against rubbish defences, and Gerrard has prospered in the hole against inferior defences this season.

However, whenever Liverpool have played that formation against a top class defence, it has come up short. Examples of this include the two recent games at the Emirates against Arsenal, the defeat to Man United at Old Trafford and both games against Inter Milan.

It’s not only Gerrard who suffers against top defences in that formation – Fernando Torres also struggles to make an impact, which was definitely the case last night.

The fact is, against good defences, 4-3-2-1 does not work. Gerrard does not have the footballing intelligence required of a world class link man, and he often seems unsure of his position.

Furthermore, in a 4-3-2-1, Gerrard is crowded out by defenders and defensive midfielders, and does not have the guile and genuine craft to prosper in such a crowded environment.

Liverpool should have played 4-4-2 at Anfield last night, with Crouch and Torres up front and Gerrard on the right. Against Chelsea, this is what is best for the TEAM.

And Rafa should have seen that the Gerrard/Torres partnership has been ineffective against top opposition this year and made the relevant tactical changes.

What makes it even more galling is the fact that Chelsea were there for the taking! I can’t remember seeing a worse Chelsea performance against Liverpool in the last 4-5years.

Nothing was coming off for them and their big players looked jaded. Liverpool needed to capitalize, and the likes of Gerrard needed to turn up and do the business.

That Liverpool played well at times is a testament to excellent performances of Xabi Alonso and Javier Mascherano, the opportunism of Dirk Kuyt and the defensive solidity of Sktl and Carra.

They all did their jobs on the night, but Gerrard was a no-show.

Every player is entitled to a bad game now and then, and Gerrard has been superb for Liverpool at times this season, but when is he going to start doing the business against England’s top teams? When is he going to stop hiding and step up and put in a performance worthy of his inflated reputation?

It’s all well and good doing the business against the poorer teams, but I would trade in his goals and assists against Cardiff, Bolton, Luton and Sunderland for a bigger contribution against Arsenal, Man United and Chelsea.

Gerrard has a chance to redeem himself against Chelsea at Stamford Bridge next week, and he will have to be at his best if Liverpool are to progress.

Another non-performance will surely not be acceptable...?

Having said that, I'm sure there are many fans who gave Gerrard man of the match against Arsenal and again last night. As they say, love is blind.

My team to beat Chelsea would be:

------------------------------ Reina

Finnan -------------- Carra --------- Hyypia ---------- Aurelio

--------------------------- Mascherano

Gerrard -------------------- Alonso ----------------- Babel

--------------------- Crouch ------ Torres


  1. So Gerrard didnt set up Torres great chance forced a great save from Cech and seem to remember the lad banging one into da top corner against the scum a while back.

  2. I mentioned Gerrard's shot against Cech in the article. And as for Gerrard banging one in against Man U - That was in 2003 in the league Cup. Five years have passed since then, and Gerrard's performances against Arsenal, Man U and Chelsea have been repeatedly poor.

  3. What the...? First you say that the system doesn't work against a top team. Then you say Chelsea was there for the taking... What is it that you are saying? If the systems doesn't work, there should never be an opportunity to 'take' a team..derr! You should have stopped at the mention of SG not performing last night.

  4. Chelsea *were* there for the taking, which is why Liverpool should have played 442 and capitalised. Peter Crouch would have been perfect for the game, but Rafa persisted with a formation that does not produce results against the top teams.

    The fact that Chelsea played quite badly makes Gerrard's non-performance even worse.

  5. I don't agree on this one Jaimie.You're right when you say that Gerrard usually goes missing against Arse/Scum/Cska but last night just wasn't the case,I mean he put in a grea pass that tore their defence to set up Torres's golden chance and he himself had a great shot saved by a world-class keeper.Compared with Chelsea's "golden boys"-Lampard,Terry,Drogba,J. Cole... he did more than enough in the CL semi final for us to win the game,but as I said,a combination of Cech being a world class keeper and Fernando having a bad game led to us ending up with a bad result. So to summarize,you might be right about Gerrard's often "absence" in games vs the other "big 3",but you're wrong about last night.

  6. Jaimie, this is what I mean about a fanatical antipathy to Gerrard, We played well last night and nearly won. It's still all to play for at the Bridge. I feel Henry Winter of the Telegraph might be right--1-1 and penalties. Why not? Maybe Chelsea haven't lost much at the Bridge. but they do draw occasionally. I'd back our lads in a penalty shoot out after a 1-1 draw.

    It's a pity you still only want to rehash your anti Gerrard hokum after a good performance last night. By the way, did you miss that Gerrard created Kuyt's goal and scored a pressure penalty against Arsenal in the last round?

  7. Jamie, I think you're right here. Gerrard was, once again, anonymous against Chelsea. I don't think he's ever played well against well, and against most of the top teams he's been non-existent.

    It's clear that the way we play, tactics etc, doesn't bring the best out of him in these games. And he doesn't raise his game for these matches either.