For an oh-so-brief spell, Liverpool found a way to midfield using a glorious triumvirate comprised of Lucas Leiva, Jordan Henderson, and Joe Allen. With Allen's subsequent injury and Steven Gerrard's own return from the physio room, Brendan Rodgers decided that away at Stoke on a rainy Sunday was the best time to introduce the captain in the holding midfielder role. At best the choice left fans scratching their heads, but Rodgers seemed confident about it.
"I just feel he's someone who fits the profile of that role," Rodgers explained. "He does it a bit more with England and I think that in the period we had real success with playing with a controlling player and two guys pressing and playing in the corridor central.
"I just feel that position is perfect for him. He's got the personality to play it. When you play in that controlling role, you need someone who can get on the ball."
There's some concern that Gerrard's positional sense is somewhat lacking for what the position entails, and the captain playing so deeply caused a shuffling elsewhere in the midfield that did not benefit either Lucas or Henderson, with the latter having one of his more unfortunate days out ever in red. Still, Rodgers was pleased with Gerrard's execution of the role.
"He gives us great variety with his passing, you saw a couple of times from deep where some might make a short pass but he opened the game up for us and stretched the game with his vision and quality," the manager continued. "And I also thought he showed great leadership as well, he was sliding across, blocking lines of pass, he was dropping in, he was making headers.
"So I think at this stage of his career — I spoke a lot to him on it — it was just about the timing of him playing the role. You saw him today and I thought he played it really well."
Rodgers previously tipped Gerrard to potentially become a centre back as his career winds down, and pressed for options given the players available to him, Rodgers can't be faulted for trying something new with the captain. But given the team's defensive frailties against a Stoke side that still managed to put three into the back of the net, Rodgers might want to consider how yesterday's midfield experiment may have expedited the goal scoring.