Brendan Rodgers' general refusal to ever substitute Steven Gerrard at a meaningful point in the midfielder's game was a running joke carried over from last season when Gerrard found himself in the statistically improbable position of having played a career-high number of matches prior to ending his season early for a light spot of surgery. It was a moment of tragicomic proportions when it was Gerrard who made the quick decision to sub himself off ten minutes after the re-start against West Ham, motioning to Brendan Rodgers that he was clearly done for the day due to potential injury.
“We just need to assess that in the next day or so," Rodgers said after the match. “It was definitely his hamstring. Hopefully it's just a strain and we'll see where we're at in the next 48 hours. He was outstanding in his performance, the quality of his passing, but when he went to get that pass he felt a little tweak.”
The Telegraph reported that Gerrard underwent tests on Sunday and that the results are not looking spectacular that he'll see out the remainder of the calendar year or even return in time for the third round of the FA Cup. A month spent on the sidelines for any player is not welcome news during the bottleneck of matches that makes up December and the first week of January, but it also forces Brendan Rodgers into a position he has so far been unwilling to consider on his own.
Many have been crying out for a taste of a midfield comprised of Lucas Leiva, Joe Allen, and Jordan Henderson, and after Gerrard's substitution that's exactly what they got. Liverpool really took the game in hand following Lucas' introduction, and with Allen's performance throughout the whole match showing strong signs of the Allen of old, Gerrard's temporary relegation to the physio room could offer a chance to explore more of this midfield threesome.
Still, losing your captain during a run of games that will see the club play three teams in the top six isn't an ideal situation, nor is it terribly reassuring that Rodgers felt Gerrard could play three matches in one week in the first place. There will be inevitable conversation about whether or not this could have been avoided in the first place, but like with any injury in any position it's a chance for other players to show their quality, stake a claim on the starting eleven, and give Rodgers a bit of a selection headache when Gerrard returns to full fitness.