Steven Gerrard and Specializing in Dead Ball Situations

Clive Brunskill

Much has been made of the Liverpool captain's struggles at various times this season, but he's unquestionably been one of the Premier League's best when it comes to having an influence from set pieces and the penalty spot.

It is widely known that I am not a fan of using numbers in any situation ever. I don't mind if other people do, especially if it's done very well and in a manner easily understood by someone with a pre-K knowledge of math(s), but I'm not prone to rushing to the statistics to prove a point. Probably because I don't ever really have a point to prove unless it has to do with Jordan Henderson's hair or Philippe Coutinho hugging Daniel Sturridge. Then we can just look at pictures and feel happy.

But I dusted off my abacus this afternoon as I went over Liverpool's results this season, and while it's not going to be much of a surprise to anyone with a pulse, I was blown away by just how important set pieces and dead-ball situations have been to Steven Gerrard's attacking statistics this season. He's scored six goals and has eight assists in the Premier League this season, with almost none of them accounted for in open play.

He added two assists to his tally yesterday, both of which were finished off by Martin Skrtel, and in his last Anfield outing he scored his sixth goal on a corner from Luis Suarez. Prior to that point, he'd scored four times from the penalty spot--against Aston Villa, Stoke City, Newcastle, and Crystal Palace--and once on a free kick against Hull City. His delivery from corners and free kicks has been on another level, finding each of Skrtel and Mamadou Sakho earlier in the season, and linking up with Luis Suarez and Daniel Sturridge as well.

Much has changed about Steven Gerrard, and it's easy to see that he's not the same type of player he once was--the goals aren't coming from open play, and the slide rule passes that spring a forward into space have become few and far between. Were he failing to influence matches in other ways, this would be cause for serious concern. He still is, though, even if his forays deeper in central midfield have produced mixed results, and while we don't always do a great job of finding reasons to celebrate the captain, this is certainly one of those things.

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