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The FA Cup Fourth Round

Adaptation the key to Gerrard resurgence

TEAMtalk's Pete Hall hails Steven Gerrard for the way he has adapted his game to ensure he delivers the goods for both club and country.

Last Updated: 07/02/13 at 18:38 Post Comment

Steven Gerrard: Has adapted his game to brilliant effect

Steven Gerrard: Has adapted his game to brilliant effect

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Earlier on in the season I put together a piece for TEAMtalk on players who had underperformed in the Premier League in the opening stages of this campaign, and first on the list was Liverpool captain Steven Gerrard.

As a Manchester United fan I enjoyed nothing more than putting Gerrard's name in the heart of the midfield, and felt it was thoroughly deserved after being England's stand-out player in yet another European Championship catastrophe.

Even the most avid Gerrard fan must admit, as Liverpool stuttered in Brendan Rodgers' initiation to life on Merseyside, the England centurion was as culpable as any as bitter rivals Everton sat six points above the Reds after nine games.

However, much to my annoyance, the inexhaustible Gerrard has found another level to his game.

He has adapted his weary legs in the same way Ryan Giggs and Paul Scholes have, and from a deeper role, is arguably having one of the most effective seasons of his illustrious career.

Leading England out at Wembley against Brazil shows just how highly he is still regarded in the game, and he was effective without being spectacular in the centre of the park.

In a much more understated role than he has been used to throughout his England career, he allowed Jack Wilshere to create chances in a more advanced position, and without stealing any headlines, dictated the pace of the Three Lions' attack.

Having recently been voted England's Player of the Year - thoroughly deserved for his exploits in Poland and Ukraine - his selection was almost mandatory for this high-profile friendly.

However, along with the majesty of the evergreen Frank Lampard - whose winner against Brazil was right out of the top drawer - his selection is fully justified by the contribution he is still making at his boyhood club in the twilight years of his career.

After their early-season stumble, Liverpool's form has lacked consistency and often been a case of two steps forward, one step back.

Although draws at Arsenal and Manchester City are hardly signs that they have turned the corner, their flamboyant attacking displays in those two thrilling draws, albeit whilst simultaneously forgetting the art of basic defending, have opened a few cynics' eyes as to what they are capable of.

Much of the credit for the recent improvement has gone to the January acquisition of Daniel Sturridge, who has surprised sceptics with four goals already alongside the prolific Luis Suarez.

As a result, Gerrard's talismanic resurgence has gone somewhat below the radar, but with nine Premier League assists, he has equalled his highest-ever assists count in a Premier League campaign - and we're only in February!

At this stage of last season's injury-ravaged campaign he didn't have any assists to his name, and to produce such a tally, from a deeper position, shows the sheer ability of the man.

He has spent the majority of his career being a box-to-box midfielder, and built a reputation on arriving late and firing piledrivers from all angles into the back of the net, as his exploits at the Etihad proved.

Today the England skipper continues to add to the scoring charts, having weighed in with six league goals this season, which considering his more reserved role is pretty impressive.

Even with Lucas in the side, Gerrard still hasn't committed himself too far forward, allowing the ever-improving Jordan Henderson, Raheem Sterling or Stewart Downing to do his running in the attacking third, and playing within his limits he has flourished.

He is also capable of taking on such responsibility for England, with Roy Hodgson putting much faith in younger talent, and overseeing a smooth qualification campaign for the World Cup in Brazil.

With a completion rate of 77.99% from an astonishing 268 attempted long passes, Gerrard has shown that in the latter stages of his career he can still contribute without over-exerting himself and is capitalising on the vision he has for those long-range balls.

One of the most loyal players of his generation, many questioned the ambition that the once Chelsea-bound midfielder possesses, as a player of such ability should really have more silverware to his name.

However at 32, and the way he is playing, Brendan Rodgers' Liverpool masterplan has a great chance of being executed with such a pivotal icon at the heart of it.

Both Liverpool and England are teams in transition, but at this rate Gerrard looks sets to be around for years to come, and in this new-found deeper role he can hopefully dictate a path to success for club and country.

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