Of the myriad personnel we've seen play for Liverpool this season, the one constant, at least in league, has been Steven Gerrard. When good, when bad, when average, it's clear that Brendan Rodgers is going to get as much out of his captain as possible, and with a new fitness regime apparently aiding recovery, Gerrard's played every single minute in the Premier League this season.
At times this has seemed more of a stunt than anything else, particularly as the looked lost and incapable of adapting his game--whatever it is beyond fire and brimstone and British Thunder--in a manner that would improve both himself and the side.
That's changed over the past few months, especially with the emergence of Jordan Henderson as a player who's able to do a bit more of the running and harrying that Gerrard's legs (or commitment to defense) simply won't allow. He's been aided by the return of Lucas as well, even if the Brazilian isn't yet to the form that saw him stake a claim as one of the best holding midfielders in world football, and it's all added up to a resurgence in the captain's ability and influence.
Yesterday we saw one of his most stastically impressive days in the passing game, with StatsZone reporting 107/115 passes completed and Squawka close to that number as well at 106/114. By far Liverpool's most involved player in distribution, and showing far more responsibility positionally without sacrificing too much of the dynamism that still makes him one of Liverpool's most exciting players. It might need to be channeled a bit differently nowadays, but he's got the potential to be just as influential if the pieces are in place.
And on Goals on Sunday, the player discussed the need for the few pieces he feels are left to be settled in order for the club to string together a solid run of results:
I think a defender...we've got an injury at the moment to Enrique, we're having to play Glen Johnson left-back, who's been phenomenal for us as well this season at right-back and left-back. We got a young kid doing well--Andre Wisdom. So we may need a little bit more cover defensively and another...maybe a number ten or another attacking-style player who can play out wide as well. That will give us exactly what we need to push for this top four.
Annoying talk of the top four aside--I'm side-eyeing the shit out of you Daniel Sturridge--it's hard to argue with the captain's assessment, especially at the back. A Glen Johnson injury at this point would be an absolute disaster, with Jose Enrique still weeks away and Martin Kelly possibly out until next season. As Gerrard notes, Andre Wisdom's been very good, but beyond him the options are limited--Jack Robinson's not in the mix, Stewart Downing is serviceable but inexperienced, and none of those in the youth/reserve setup have seen any minutes.
As for an adaptable number ten or attacking midfielder, I'm not quite as sure. I think someone who could play now--whether that's Wesley Sneijder, who I'm lukewarm about, or not--would certainly be helpful, but making this the priority with such glaring need right now in defense, it's hard to get too excited about the options, especially if it entails wrapping up a large portion of the wage bill.