Liverpool have seven games of the season remaining. Up until now they’ve bagged 84 goals over the 31 matches played this season. That’s an average of almost three goals per match. More than half of them, 47, have come from Luis Suarez with 26 and Daniel Sturridge on 21. This has been all too well. Lovely to watch, deserving of the praise and confirming the side is now in a place to challenge the very best.
However, that’s all done now. Brendan Rodgers’ men have arrived at the business end of the season in a position that is theirs for the taking and the Premiership title a real possibility. The saying goes that there’s no game more important than the next one and this applies to Liverpool this weekend with the visit to Anfield of Tottenham Hotspurs. Can Liverpool come out on top? I certainly believe so. In fact, if I go against the expression and look at the remaining fixtures, I don’t see any games that the team can’t win. Even the main protagonists Manchester City and Chelsea should not be a cause for alarm. True grit or bottle, yes. Alarm or submit, certainly not.
This is the time for the entire squad to show what they’re made of. Courage is what is needed at this stage of the season. With this statement, I’m not just referring to Joe Allen, Raheem Sterling or Martin Skrtel. Not that any of those named are showing anything less right now. I’m talking about Brendan Rodgers. I’m loathe to criticise a man who has done wonders for the club. He’s restored some pride and metal into a flagging side. He’s turned a bunch of wannabe’s into a real group of contenders and this is wherein lies my point. He has a group of contenders.
Liverpool Football Club have a squad of players. To cover injuries, to enable competition for places and to allow for practical as well as tactical selection. With that in mind, I’m baffled as to why Rodgers is insisting on playing Gerrard when he’s one yellow card away from a two match ban. Yes he scored against Sunderland in the week and he is, after all, the team’s source of back bone, drive and a kick up the backside when required. That said, the club has a squad of players and I think Rodgers needs to show the courage to use it.
The next game may well be the most important but it’s not the deciding game of the season and I don’t feel there’s much point in Rodgers’ indulgence. Dare to be brave yes, but foolhardy? I’m not sure if playing Gerrard is what you could call brave. I’m leaning more toward foolhardy. If he’s that vital an ingredient then surely we need to avoid the One day feast and one day famine scenario, to coin one of my mother’s favorite expressions. There’s more food in the cupboard! Looking at the squad, there is another player who could do a job in Gerrard’s position and isn’t getting a look in.
Enter Lucas Leiva. Gerrard is, after all playing in his position and I don’t think many a Liverpool supporter would say Lucas has done a bad job. For the last three seasons or so, he’s become an integral part of the team, let alone the squad and I think it’s about time Rodgers showed a bit more faith in the Brazilian and kept Gerrard in reserve for the next game or two. I believe the squad has sufficient depth – just about on account of Lucas – to be able to turn Tottenham and West Ham over without Gerrard. Man City? Debatable. What I’m beginning to not believe, is that the manager is brave enough to stick his neck out and make that call.
Should Gerrard pick up a yellow card against Tottenham, and let’s not delude ourselves, it’s not beyond the realms of possibility, then it’ll be fair to say that the manager has undone himself. Is Iago Aspas an able replacement for Luis Suarez or Daniel Sturridge? Probably not and that’s definitely an area of the squad that needs a good understudy and reason for not playing him. Is Lucas an able replacement for Steven Gerrard. I’d say yes. Certainly a better replacement for Gerrard than Aspas is for either of the front two.
Come on Brendan. Show us what you’re made of. The team is not a one trick pony and I’m sure you’re of the same belief. Let’s use the depth of the squad. It may not be as strong as some of our rivals, but there’s strength there nonetheless.
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