As we talked about briefly prior to news of Oussama Assaidi's signing, Liverpool's midfield is, depending on your opinion, potentially one of the areas in which depth and quality are not in short supply. The addition of Joe Allen certainly boosts the overall level, but the return of Lucas and the ability to count on Steven Gerrard's fitness to start the year has given Brendan Rodgers a dynamic and talented set of midfield options.
One of the most exciting aspects of the captain's return to full fitness ahead of tomorrow's opener is where and how Rodgers sees him fitting--"The manager has spoken to me about what role he sees me filling and I still think he sees me as an attacking midfielder. I still think I can play a dynamic energy-type game. I'm prepared to adapt and I'll do whatever the manager wants, but I can still play the same way. I think people want me to say I can't play the same way any more, that I have to go deeper to control the game from deep and play a slower game, but believe me, it's not happening, not yet.”
Many will point to the performances Gerrard gave in support of Fernando Torres during the 2008-2009 season as some of his best, and it's hard to disagree with the sentiment that he's at his best when he's given a bit more license to push forward to link up with the forward line. As he notes in the article, there aren't many years left of him being able to do so, but to read that ahead of tomorrow he's feeling fit and capable of influencing a match on the front foot is encouraging stuff.
We've already seen evidence of Rodgers' intent with the player, as he's set Gerrard in front of two deeper-lying central midfielders, and in two straight matches--albeit with less of a pedal to the medal approach against Leverkusen--he's forged an effective understanding with the forward line, most notably Luis Suarez. Fitness will once again be the biggest question, but if he can manage to keep himself off the injury list, I think another season with Steven Gerrard in an attacking role is something we can all look forward to.