LFC Midfield 2011/12 and the Steven Gerrard Conundrum

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By Paul Culff

So this article is being written on the assumption that the Jordan Henderson deal will go through as publicized heavily in the media. The rest of the midfield roster will remain as per the end of season 2010/11.

Clearly our midfield is currently overstocked, especially the central midfield area. With many of our roster returning from injury or with a point to prove, some decisions have to be made and I am interested to hear people thoughts on the possible midfield shape for the 2011/12 season. With Jordan Henderson, our midfield stocks will look something like this (and this is not including those reserve team players on the fringe of the first team squad or out on loan)

  • Steven Gerrard
  • Raul Meireles
  • Lucas Leiva
  • Jordan Henderson
  • Maxi Rodriguez
  • Jay Spearing
  • Jonjo Shelvey
  • Dirk Kuyt (if not classified as an attacker)
  • Joe Cole
  • Milan Jovanovic
  • Christian Poulsen

This list is clearly stacked with Central Midfielders and I do assume that we will be buying some wide players but how would we line up if this is what we had.

Let’s start with the 4-4-2 or possibly a 4-4-1-1. I would expect Lucas Leiva and Raul Meireles to play centrally with Steven Gerrard and possibly Dirk Kuyt providing the width. Jay Spearing would provide cover in the middle of the park, most likely taking a place on the bench. Jonjo Shelvey and Jordan Henderson are a little more versatile and attacking. It is for this reason that they would be more likely to be injected before Spearing since they can provide width and also more creativity.

Now let’s look at a possible 5 man midfield. Player of the year Lucas Leiva would most likely play the defensive holding midfielder (in the Mascherano mould). I would expect Meireles and Henderson to play in front of him with Gerrard wide right and Kuyt wide left (with the option to switch). Spearing, Shelvey and possibly Maxi to provide back up from the bench.

What about a 4-3-3? In this instance it is probably important to look at our front men as well. I would certainly have Carroll playing as a central striker with Kuyt to his right and Suarez on the left. Behind them it might make more sense to have Gerrard play centrally due to his work ethic, possibly Henderson on the right and Maxi on the left. Lucas and Meireles on the bench with Spearing and Shelvey possibly missing out.

All these scenarios don’t have a place for Joe Cole, Milan Jovanovic or Christian Poulsen as I expect them to be sold and if not, there are better players ahead of them. Maxi Rodriguez would also seem to suffer slightly as I am not sure where he fits into Kenny’s plans. That’s not to say he doesn’t deserve a place but I’m not sure where he would fit, especially if we sign specialist wide men. Shelvey and Spearing would also become more of a backup bench option if we reinforce the squad.  This way they can gain more first team experience or could possibly get loaned out?

Now the Steven Gerrard conundrum is almost debate for another article. The debate is certainly not if he makes the lineup since he is our talisman and one of the greatest to wear the shirt. The question is where to best utilize him? Does he play centrally or does he play wide? Alternatively, does he play in the whole just behind the striker in a 4-4-1-1 formation. His versatility, skill and work rate make him an option in all three areas but what is his best position? It should be noted that he did score many goals from a wide position as he has freedom to move and this is also where he has excelled for England over the years.

Obviously formation and positioning may depend on the opposition but I wonder how Kenny will accommodate to overload of “Central” midfielders. I will be interested to hear your thoughts…..


–  Culffy



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    1. I would love Adam in the squad and use him as an impact substitute when needed. I’m not sure Adam should start.

  1. Take in mind that we are likely to play a 433 next season. Jovanovic, Cole and Poulsen are all gone by the end of the summer. Kuyt might be used as a striker along with Suarez and Carroll up front or else as a backup striker. That means we would have 6 midfielders. Of which Shelvey is still learning and spearing is a lightweight.

  2. I personally think we’ll buy a winger and play more of a 433! Gerrard Lucas Meireles being the 3! Henderson Spearing Shelvey as back up then Suarez Carroll new wide man as front 3!

  3. Honestly withouto ut and out wingers i dont think Carroll would start as much next season. With however, i’d want a 433

    Suarez Carroll Kuyt/Mata/Young/Johnson/Whoever we get

    Gerrard Lucas Meireles

    Gives Stevie and Raul a chance to get forward if Lucas holds.
    I assume we would rotate Henderson and Adam (if we get them) with Raul, and Spearing for Lucas cover. Whoever we do get, we will finally have decent depth for midfield. Now just to find 2 wingers, a left back and center back and forward cover and we should have a top 4 team.

  4. This is still assuming we don’t sign any wingers, which we are bound to by the end of the window. Lets see what the window yields and then decide on our best formation!

  5. its hard to figure
    maybe a 5-1-2-1-1…with lucas holding, stevie and henderson infront and the width provided by playing wingbacks high up??

  6. I certainly would not have Gerrard play in a wide role at his age, and his work ethic and array of passing is more suited for a central midfield role. I personally believe a luxury of midfielders is not a burden but rather gives us a chance to expand the possibilities.

    We all know that when King Kenny came in everyone had more freedom, and in some instances when Kuyt, Carroll, and Suarez where on the field you would see them exchanging from CF to RW to LW. This means that no matter what, Gerrard will play almost every position in front of the defense at some point.

    I think if we get Henderson he would start on the bench, and that spectacular wide man we get (possibly Mata, Young, or Perotti) would get the spot over Kuyt. My hope for the front 6 would be Gerrard, Meireles, Lucas, Suarez, Carroll, and a new wide man.

  7. I think we need to be realistic in regards to players who deserve to get a squad number if they are not off loaded in the summer. To compete in the premiership we need to have better quality on the bench than we’ve had in the last 4-5 years. I am not sure whether Henderson will be ready to slot into the team next season, Joe Cole should definitely be off loaded…I’m a great fan of his but his liverpool career hasn’t taken off and I do not think it ever will. I would fancy playing SG in a wider position if we do not buy a world class winger. Lucas should be one of the first names on the team list with the holding role he played so well last season. Meireles could play the central mid role effectively and he seem to enjoy it. Suarez could play off Carroll up front with kuyt interchanging with SG in the wide mid field roles. We can start any new players that come in on the bench.

  8. Joe Cole, Milan Jovanovic & Christian Poulsen wont be around next term. Jonjo Shelvey will return to the reserves as will Jay Spearing unless needed in an emergency. Gerard has only a couple more years if and it’s a big if he gets over his groin problems.

  9. Some people might find this strange but I believe that Stevie will actually move more into a defensive midfield position. Breaking up attacks and starting off attacking moves. As he gets older he is not going to be able to cover the amount of ground he used to. Lucus should be the one to miss out. Meireless and Stevie in the middle with hopefully new wide players.

  10. id rather play a 4-3-3
    with mereiles, lucas, and gerrard, and then suarez, carroll, and hopefully juan mata, or someone else thats as good. i dont want this piece of crap jordan henderson. pacheco needs to start playing instead of buying a piece of crap

  11. I’m a little surprised at what I’ve read. For me, it’s obvious that Raul will be a bit part player next season. If we play 4-3-3, our midfield could be Gerrard, Lucas and Henderson. If we play a 4 in midfield, Stevie or Henderson could play on the right with Dirk either dropping to the bench or filling another position. Very strong midfields either way. Meireles is more of a luxury midfielder for me who has less impact. I would like N’Zogbia and Enrique brought in as well. This would give us a challenging for trophies side. All the numpties that mention wingers like Mata and others who have no PL experience are clueless.

  12. I think Gerrard will be the same as the past two years. He’ll pretend he is playing well, and we’ll pretending he is doing well.

  13. why not play 4-2-2-2….the brazilian way..instead of fullback, start with wingback…n d width is provided by them..with Lucas play as the holding midfielder..Gerrard as the deep-lying playmaker..as we know he can both tackle and make long passes..both Henderson and Meireles playing in the midfield…each taking turn to go forward and also allow them the freedom to roam, hence providing the additional width as well…Carroll as the target man with Suarez…this formation will force the opposing team to attack down the flank, hence freeing up the space in middle of the park for our midfield to take advantage..if the opposing team decide to crowd the midfield from fear being over run in the middle, this will free up the wingbacks….this position will allow us to play positional passing football on the ground and also the wingback can whip in some delicious crosses for Carroll…YNWA

    1. i actually completely agree with this. And if we sign someone like Juan Manuel Vargas as a LWB then this formation would be awesome

      Carragher Agger/Skrtel

      Johnson Meireles Lucas Vargas/Enrique/Coentrao

      Gerrard Henderson/Adam




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