What is our midfield solution?

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By Paul Culff

Sunday’s game against QPR has to be labeled a big game! Two weeks ago, we headed into our festive fixtures within touching distance of the top 4 with a run of games that were all winnable. Taking 10-12 points did not seem so impossible against Villa (H), Fulham (H), Stoke (A) and QPR (A). Now we enter the final fixture of 2012 almost being a must win. A loss to QPR, who only have one other win all season against Fulham at Loftus Road (and we all know how awful Fulham are away from home), will certainly have the Brendan Rodgers skeptics out in force. I want to be patient with Rodgers but a loss on Sunday will certainly test that patience. Our consistency is killing any progress we make and his ability to get the players up for game after game must be questioned as we can’t seem to string a few good performances together. I would have expected the boys to be fully up for the Stoke game after the Fulham win but they were far from it.

Let’s talk about team makeup, primarily the midfield, especially as the January window approaches. I don’t think it is any secret that our front line needs reinforcements and hopefully it doesn’t stop with Daniel Sturridge as I’m unsure he has the goals needed in him. But what about the midfield and I include wingers in this conversation? 4 months ago, our midfield seemed stacked with options, even more so that we have seen some of the younger players come through. However I find the midfield to be a questionable area, especially finding the right mix. Just look at the names – Gerrard, Lucas, Sterling, Suso, Shelvey, Henderson, Cole, Assaidi, Sahin, Allen and Downing. This midfield seems to match the way our season has gone. There is promise but no consistency. They blow hot and cold week in week out. We can’t find the right mix or balance.  I found the game against Stoke to be frustrating. I thought Shelvey didn’t offer too much and BR continues to persist with him. I have seen Suso show glimpses of being able to pass and move and interchange nicely with Suarez but BR doesn’t persist with him. I was sure we would see more of Sahin over the festive period but he has been rarely included (despite a broken nose and my understanding that he is still available to play) and wasn’t even on the team sheet on Boxing Day. I would love to see Sahin get a run of games. Assaidi now looks set for the African Cup of Nations despite not having played recently for us. In the small game time he has been given, he has at least shown invention, more so than Joe Cole and likewise Stewart Downing.  I know Jordan Henderson has his detractors too but surely he needs more game time to prove himself.

I am just struggling to understand the vision of our midfield. BR clearly has his favorites and it worries me if he is satisfied. There are definitely players across the squad that simply warm the bench.  These players seem to include Sahin, Assaidi, Coates, Henderson etc. These players surely have promise but must question how the inconsistent Shelvey, Cole and Downing get game time ahead of them. It’s also worrying when our left back (Enrique) gets some games at left midfield and is seemingly able to perform better there than some of the regulars.

Our defense and ability to track back is an issue but that is best saved for another article. My concern is finding the right combinations in midfield and do we have the right balance? During the summer, I felt that our midfield options were stacked and we didn’t need reinforcements. Now I find myself wanting creative midfield reinforcements to provide us with the quality we need. We have players to fill the midfield, but we lack the creativity and quality of a Juan Mata or Santi Cazorla. The trouble is attracting players of that caliber that seek Champions League football but there have to be options out there.

It seems that we have too many options with no solution. I have recently found myself asking, what is the solution in midfield?” I’ll be interested to hear your thoughts.





  1. Totally agree. But I would add another concern that we completely lack (and have for years) devastating pace to threaten teams with. That in my opinion needs to be looked at

  2. I still feel Gerrard should be played more forward as he don’t have the legs but great player who can assist & score goals,then play sahin in midfield to supply the ball in & around the box with Allen when he finds form again,with Lucas patroling as he does now he’s getting match fit

  3. i think it will be better if rodgers play sahin with lucas and gerrard. sahin have been lack of oportunities. he deserve a chance to play. #YNWA

  4. I feel Lucas has to start. This is the only guaranteed starter as far as I am concerned. After this we need to be inventive and go for something different.

    This would be my Mid/Att.

    Lucas CDM
    Sahin CM
    Suso CAM
    Sterling LAM
    Gerrard RAM
    Suarez CF

    Sahin with Lucas would give us more Solidity in the Centre and Sahin would get forward more than Allen. I would swap Suso with Gerrard. Gerrard has played there before with good effect and Suso is wasted on the right. He is the perfect No.10 IMO and has a great eye for a pass. If it doesn’t work just swap them around.

  5. Totally agree! I’m a Scottish Liverpool fan that now lives in the U.S. so I get to watch all the Liverpool games and rematch them as they are repeated on the fox soccer channel.
    I do not see why Shelvy is played so often he just looks lost out there. He telegraphs every pass and looks so uncomfortable on the ball.
    Gerrard needs to play further up and BR needs to realise he is not a holding midfielder behind Jonjo!

  6. Getting rid of Lucas would be a good start he adds nothing going forward and in the 180 minutes he was on the pitch v Villa , West Ham and Stoke we conceded 8 goals so he does not sure up the defence or protect the back four .

  7. The solution will not come from the players you mention – excepting Stevie G the only class player out of those.
    Henderson and Downing were never good enough and wont be. Sahin, Suso, Allen etc are too lightweight. Lucas contributes nothing going forward, doesn’t create enough. None of them have a finish in them. An “Alonso” type is needed that can control a game.

    Gerrard is the only one able to play the killer pass that can win a game.

    We are ordinary and not improving, in 50 years of being a red, this is the worst squad I’ve seen. We play too much in our own half and not at all in the final third.

  8. the problem with Brendan is he only has one style and he hardly changes his style which is ridiculous maybe he is warming the bench for rafa’s return because i didnt see why he couldnt have played Coates in the defence as we look lightweight and i dont see why Jole cole was brought on as he is Mr Inconsistent,Suso should be tried as a super sub playing behind the striker rather than on the wings with his ability to run at defence when tired and making the final pass,Sahin should be restored to the midfield and put Joe Allen on the bench..we need to buy Demba Ba as he will bang in goals for us with Sturride and Tom Ince

  9. Although the back four seemed bad against Stoke, they did not have the support of the midfield and at times they were completely exposed. I believe Sahin should start ahead of Shelvey. He has class and also has an eye for goal. My midfield: Allen, Lucas, Gerard, Sahin. Henderson on the bench ahead of Shelvey.

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