3 Oct 2013

'They never score!': LFC Hero slams £27m Reds duo for 'influence' failure. Fair...?

Despite being second in the Premier League table, Liverpool continue to have problems consistently scoring goals from midfield, and this an ongoing issue that Reds boss Brendan Rodgers doesn't seem able to solve. None of the club's central midfielders have scored goals this season, and Anfield legend Ian. St. John has called on Lucas and Jordan Henderson to contribute more to the cause.

Discussing Liverpool's midfield creativity on the 5-Times Podcast this week, St. John observed:

"In our midfield, you’ve got Gerrard who can play anywhere, but the other two [Lucas and Henderson] have got to try and influence the game more.

"They never score! They never look like they’re going to score, and we’ve got to be getting something from that midfield area"

A few Premier League stats:

* This season: Lucas/Gerrard/Henderson = 0 goals.
* 2012-13: Lucas/Gerrard/Henderson = 14 goals combined.
* 2011-12: Lucas/Gerrard/Henderson = 7 goals combined.
* 2011-13: LGH average 10.5 goals combined per season.

Clearly, this is nowhere near good enough.

Due to his position as a defensive midfielder, Lucas always seems to get an automatic pass for having zero creative contribution on the team, but perhaps the club should be expecting a little more? No one expects him to score every week, but would it too much to ask for him to weigh in with an assist every now and again? Is five assists fives years an acceptable return? Is one Premier League goal every four years good enough for Liverpool midfielder, defensive or not?

Jordan Henderson is one of LFC's most improved players, and last season, he grabbed 5 goals and 4 assists for the club, which is a creditable return. However, he has no goals/assists in the last 11 Premier League games, which is just not good enough (IMO), and adds weight to St. John's contention that the club has to be 'getting more from the midfield area'.

After turning things around at LFC, Henderson is increasingly popular with the fanbase, and he's a good player to have in the squad, but creatively, the midfielder is simply not consistent enough, and this really shows when the team is struggling to score (first three games this season, for example).

Which brings us to Steven Gerrard. As is always the case, he also gets an automatic pass because of his status at the club. St. John goes on about midfielders 'never scoring', but ignores the fact that the captain has now gone SEVENTEEN league games without scoring a goal from open play. Gerrard is a legend, but his lack of goals is a concern, especially when he players every single league game.

Consistent goals from midfield is a big problem for Liverpool, but it's nothing new, and this may sound harsh, but Brendan Rodgers has failed to solve the issue. Last summer, for example, Liverpool clearly needed goalscoring midfielders, but Rodgers went out and spent £15m on Joe Allen instead, a midfielder who scores even less often than Lucas (!)

The boss got it right in January 2013 with the superb purchase of Coutinho, but over the summer, Rodgers again singularly failed to address the issue. Yes, the Reds were in for Henrikh Mkhitaryan, but at the end of the day, no proven, consistent goalscoring midfielders ended up at Anfield, and I find it hard to believe that the club couldn't find ONE suitable player over the entire summer.

This is already having a negative impact. As noted earlier, central midfield has contributed ZERO goals in the league so far, but Liverpool's good luck in the first three narrow 1-0 league victories has papered over the cracks.

Nothing is going to magically change; Lucas, Gerrard and Henderson are not suddenly going to start scoring every week, and this will lead to problems for the club over the next few months. Sturridge and Suarez are scoring, but if one or either of them goes through a barren spell, who is going to pick up the slack? Who can be relied upon to score regularly?

With this in mind, Liverpool's top priority in January must surely be the acquisition one or two goalscoring attacking midfielders. And after that, if Gerrard, Henderson, and even Lucas continue to add nothing on the goals front, they should be dropped and replaced with players who will score goals consistently.

That may sound like heresy to some, but there's no room for sentiment. Look at Frank Lampard at Chelsea - he is a club legend, and is widely regarded to be the club's greatest ever player, but he's not an automatic choice every week, and the club's management are not above benching him when it's warranted.

Why should it be any different for Gerrard?

NOTE: Please stick to the Comment Policy (Click to read)


  1. I think Hendo does influence the game a lot but in terms of defense more than in the attacking form here. Hendo will be on a scoring run once he gets to play in the midfield rather than on the wings, BR needs to make Hendo trust himself even more to take the shot for goal. Lucas I think should be shipped out to Rafa if he comes asking and as I said earlier should be replaced with Lars Bender, that guy is a beast and will become one of the best soon enough.

  2. Iniesta hardly scores either. John Terry has more club goals than him...doesn't make him gack. Stats show only so much, Hendo has now moved into a right wing back position, should he be banging them in from there ??? Lucas spends 80% of his time in front of a back four religously so that both wing backs can bomb on.....and then he gets questioned with assists and goals...understand the system then comment.
    To a point Hendo could of added a few this season and he will be dissappointed he didn't but the form he is showing I am well impressed with. At least he is progressing big time which can only lead to more goals and assists in the future.

  3. I think his lack of a goal is getting to Hendo, messing with his confidence or something. In pre-season he was shooting well, he did get a goal against Notts county, he just needs to relax and be confident. He has a decent conversion rate - just needs to shoot more. Interesting stat: accross all comps took 46 each year over the past 3 years.
    Gerrard looks like he has a bit of a confidence issue too, again, he comes to terms with his age, and what he can / can't do, he will improve.
    Lucas doesn't shoot much, but would be nice if he tried. Either way if he contributes assists, or 2nd assists, this is welcome.
    The bigger problem lies with the team that isn't shooting as much (bar stoke), this seems to be improving with Suarez back, and hopefully will get more shots with Coutinho and Johnson back - more shots should lead to more goals.

  4. Iniesta is FAR more of a goal threat than our midfielders. His assists are off the scale pretty much every season, and he creates panic in the opposing defence with his cute passes and through balls. If our midfielders replicated or came anywhere near to his creative output, we wouldn't care about them not scoring many

  5. Yes...Iniesta has had a full career and yet has only scored 50 club goals in the best team the world has ever seen...do the maths on how many goals a season.....So to complain about an out and out defensive midfielder and a 21 yr old not scoring enough is acting like a Stevie Wonder. So to say Iniesta is a goal threat....50 club goals says not so much...Messi's done that in one season. !!! Should he labelled over that.

  6. Don't think its fair to expect more goals, if he was further up the field tryin to get goals and we conceded a goal or goals from it then u would have another article about him being persistently out of position, mascherano only managed 2 goals in his whole time and a don't imagine many assists!

  7. Some people are just never happy unless they are moaning about something. For gods sake get a life LFC are currently second in the league.

  8. You're missing the point. Iniesta has scores of assists, and also makes the Barca attack tick- he is the one with the ball at his feet usually, threading balls through , and often his pass is the one which breaks the defence down, even if another square pass is finished for the goal. meaning no assist is recorded.

  9. Actually, continuous improvement and being critical even when things are going well is a long-established principle of LFC success. One of the main reasons LFC were so successful in 70s and 80s in the club never being satisfied, and always pushing for improvement. So many LFC players have confirmed this over the years, and even this week, Mark Lawrenson wrote:

    "I remember after Liverpool had won the title in 1983. Joe Fagan brought in Gary Gillespie that summer and I remember thinking, ‘Goodness me, are we that bad?’ But it kept us on our toes.

    That's the point. The club didn't just bask in glory; it looked at ways to improve and become better, and that is precisely what I'm talking about in this article.

    Yes, Lucas and Henderson are good players, but they're not consistently delivering in some major areas. If you want LFC to remain in the CL wilderness for years to come, then ignore the obvious areas for improvement.

    There's no room for sentimentality - if players aren't consistently doing the business, they need to make way. It's that simple.

  10. Mike that is exactly my point. Stats can show one thing...but fans know differently. I will give you an example. Look at Suarez's second goal against Sunderland last weekend. Have a look at the run Henderson makes for it. He runs the full length of the pitch and ends up attracting two defenders towards him and because of that Suarez is left unmarked in the box for an easy tap in.
    Now Henderson gets no credit at all for that goal, but if doesn't make that run, Suarez is easily marked. Stats don't show that, which is why I made the point about Iniesta. Stats show one thing, but we know the story....really. !!!

  11. Lucas has to be one of the most ineffective defensive midfielders when it comes to going on the attack which is really strange seeing that he was an attacking midfielder at Gremio.

    He is a great little player but the wow factor is non existent. Some competition for his place will be much welcomed.

  12. "Acting like Stevie Wonder"- an odd choice of phrase.
    Are you trying to accuse Mike of being superstitious or saying that he has the capacity to progress beyond the limits of the Motown sound and in doing so, expand the boundaries of funk and soul?
    If so, based on Mike Aitcherson's comment, I agree.

  13. In other news looks like Johnson, Allen, and Cissoko will be back against New Castle.

  14. The Dark Joe Allen9:02 pm, October 03, 2013

    Midfield is an hold back. Our midfield needs reform.

    Or, we can be a struggling 6th place team over and over again forever. We need a proper LB as well for ones in a life, and couple more players. It's time that our standards rise up after the long down-fall we suffered and were too nice at, and got too used to it's sustain.

  15. The difference between Lampard and Chelsea and us is we don't have the quality there to replace them, Chelsea most certainly do.

  16. Then why do people complain if Sturridge shoots instead of passing?

  17. It comes down to decision making. Shooting when a pass is the better option is ok every now and then, when this happens almost all of the time it causes friction, undermines teammates, and leads to fewer goals. You can see players get frustrated by this, and retaliate, shooting instead of passing to sturridge, even though that would be the best option.

    Glad to see he set up Suarez on both occasions as it was the best option, and added to the lead.

  18. JK,

    Great post. Feel exactly the same as indicated in prior post over the last two weeks. What about Moses at mid and insert Ibe on the wing?

  19. I have to agree with the article. We had an opportunity this summer to address this issue, as for me, this area in the team has been lacking goals for sometime. Hendos has had his chances but seems to hit the post or hit it wide and seems to lack composure in front of goal at times. Lucas can always chip in with more. As for Gerrard I can't see why we don't play him further forward at times? He's bound to notch!

  20. I agree with the Henderson part but disagree with the Lucas.

    Henderson goes much further forward and should be able to supply some assists at the very least.

    The only time Lucas is going to have a real chance to score is on corners. He's not moving high up the pitch. He's not going to shoot from distance. In my book, Lucas is considered more defender than midfielder. The same expectations that we place on our defense to score goals should be the same for Lucas.

    With that in mind, I think we should consider anything Lucas scores to be a bonus.