By Brian Coleman (Twitter: @BCAColeman)
Perhaps no player would more willingly die for their club than Steven Gerrard. Thundering challenges, precise free kicks, calmly taken penalties, and an enthusiasm to rally the troops when the time calls- Gerrard does them all. Gerrard is quite possibly the only world class legend in the Premier League at the time being. A player with numerous international caps (and the England captain’s armband to boot), FA Cups, and the glorious Champions League medal- perhaps this is the year that the Skipper finally claims the elusive Premier League title. But is that all the silverware that Gerrard should collect?
After the two Christmas period losses to City and Chelsea (and the injury to Lucas), Brendan Rodgers made a tactical switch that we may look back on and say could be the reason Liverpool win the league. Dropping Gerrard from his more traditional attacking role into a deeper, defensive role has clearly panned out this calendar year- with Liverpool still unbeaten in 2014. But even more impressive than Liverpool’s current form is how well the team seems to have come together to push on and challenge for the league.
As a 33 year old superstar, Gerrard could easily have told Rodgers off and said he would only play in his traditional attacking role. But that was never going to be for the Stevie G that is serenaded by the Kop game in and game out. He bleeds LFC red and would do whatever it takes to help the team win. Gerrard welcomed his new role, even keeping true holding midfielder Lucas out of the match day squad with his performances. His ability to transition from defensively making brilliant challenges to spraying balls with pinpoint precision into the attack has helped Liverpool climb to the summit of the Premier League. It’s quite possible that Steven Gerrard in his new role is the only reason that Liverpool has been able to go unbeaten in 15 matches.
While the Premier League Player of the Season could easily be handed to Luis Suarez or even Daniel Sturridge given the seasons that the two have put together, I say it’s Gerrard who deserves the accolade most. His 10 assists place him second in the league only to teammate Suarez and his 13 goals have most often come at the most needed times- with Liverpool clawing themselves into the lead or back from the dead. While 10 of his goals have come from the spot, they’ve almost all come under immense pressure. Perhaps none was more pivotal than his 91st minute winner against Fulham. A loss to then bottom of the table Fulham may have ended our hopes of winning the league- but Captain Fantastic stepped up and calmly restored our faith. Gerrard’s two penalties helped to bury United, while two more against West Ham sent us top of the table and controlling our own destiny.
Just as important as his goals has been his defensive work, particularly in the last few weeks at risk of a yellow card accumulation suspension. While Gerrard’s most pointed out flaw tends to be his inability to control himself when going in on strong challenges, he’s made quite the modification in the last few weeks. With the risk of suspension for the City and/or the Chelsea games at home, Gerrard has tended to pull out of challenges that he would otherwise make. However, his defensive ability has seemed to improve as a result, with less missed challenges leading to opposition attacks.
But no moment for Gerrard has encapsulated what this Liverpool run has meant for him than when the final whistle sounded against City at Anfield. To see our 33 year old skipper brought to tears with the realization that four more cup finals will mean an end to our title draught epitomized what this season means to him. Corralling his teammates and urging them on for four more wins (even if what he said was “none of [our] business”) shows that Steven Gerrard is the engine behind Liverpool’s heartbeat this season.
In my opinion, no player in the Premier League deserves the Premier League Player of the Season award more than Steven Gerrard. While our little Uruguayan has been nothing short of magical and our younger Englishman has shown that he is a star in the making- the elder statesmen takes the cake. His drive and determination has willed Liverpool on time and time again. In Istanbul, he made us believe that with just 45 minutes, Liverpool are capable of anything, even the impossible. With no time at all, he clawed us back at Wembley with a screamer. With just 360 minutes left to go, you’ve got to believe that Steven Gerrard will continue to carry Liverpool on to glory.