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Watch: Emre Can vs. Bolton

Emre Can was in the midst of another solid, mostly positive night at centre half against Bolton in the FA Cup. Then he was pushed up into midfield and everything changed. Time to take another look.

Alex Livesey/Getty Images

The night started out a fairly quiet one for Emre Can, who lined up at centre half as he so often has of late for Liverpool’s fourth round FA Cup replay against Bolton. He hasn’t always looked perfectly comfortable there, but his physicality and calmness on the ball has been more benefit than hinderance since Liverpool switched to playing a back three and Can started getting minutes in it.

It was mostly more of the same, then, against Bolton. Calmness on the ball to beat Wanders’ high pressing, and few well spotting through balls—not all of which came off—and a few solid challenges to go with a few times when, if one were being a stickler, there might have been reason to question his positioning. Overall, though, it was a good night at the back for Emre Can. Perhaps even a very good night.

Then Bolton scored and Liverpool went all out for the win, Can shifted forward into midfield and all of a sudden the force driving the Reds forward, setting a base for right at the edge of the Bolton area. A well struck shot was deflected wide. An even better one grazed the ‘keeper’s fingertips and crashed off the bar. Then he played Raheem Sterling in with a mesmerizing, brilliant pass over a stunned Bolton backline.

As impressive as those individual moments were, though, maybe the most noteworthy part of Can’s performance late on in midfield was the central role he took up in a Liverpool midfield with Steven Gerrard in it. Even as his legs have tired, when Liverpool have needed a late goal this season it has typically been the captain trying to do the job Can did against Bolton. Mostly, this year, it hasn’t led to results.

Last night, as the minutes ticked away and Liverpool desperately pushed for an equalizer and then the winner, it was Emre Can who took over Liverpool’s midfield and not Steven Gerrard. That, more even than the shots and the pass and the two late goals his presence helped to create, is what was most impressive and most noteworthy about Emre Can’s performance against Bolton.

Video by LFCTikiTaka

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