Back in the groove

Firing again... Liverpool's Steven Gerrard evades a tackle by Sunderland's David Vaughan in a Premier League match at the Anfield Stadium.-AP

With anchorman Lucas Leiva of Brazil fully fit and back in the Liverpool team, Steven Gerrard has been pushed further forward and has more of an opportunity to express himself.

Steven Gerrard has been given a licence to roam following the return of Lucas Leiva and it is no coincidence that the Liverpool captain has produced his best form of the season in recent weeks.

England skipper Gerrard has been mainly employed in a holding midfield role since Brendan Rodgers’ arrival at Anfield last summer after Lucas suffered another knee injury. But with the Brazil anchorman now fully fit, Gerrard has been pushed further forward and has more of an opportunity to express himself.

The goals have flowed for the Reds in recent weeks and the dynamic Gerrard has chipped in with three in his last five games, catching the eye with the sort of inspirational displays that we have become accustomed to over the years.

“I’ve had mixed experiences this season,” Gerrard said. “I’ve passed some unbelievable landmarks for club and country, getting to the 600-game mark and winning my 100th cap for England. “But with the slow start we made and being where we have in the league, it’s been a bit mixed for me.

“There’s my form as well. I’ve played well in some games, but I’ve been disappointed with myself in others and I’m not happy with my goal tally at the moment.

“People’s opinions, perceptions and the way they judge you changes when you get a goal. I think my performances are getting closer to where I want them to be, so if I can add goals to those performances then maybe people will start saying the old Steven Gerrard is back.”

After a disappointing start to the season, Liverpool have produced some promising displays in recent weeks with Luis Suarez particularly impressive.

Although a tilt at the English Premier League title is beyond them, the Merseyside club are still in the Europa League and the FA Cup. And with Daniel Sturridge having arrived at the club in a GBP12 million deal from Chelsea and other signings expected, Gerrard is confident Rodgers’ first season at Anfield can still be a success. “I don’t think the manager’s asked me to do anything different in terms of the way he wants me to perform,” he told ‘Liverpool FC’ magazine.

“But because of certain injuries, situations that have happened to the team and formations that we’ve played, I’ve naturally played a little bit deeper.

“I’ve maybe gone into protection mode rather than playing the old Steven Gerrard way with the shackles off and going for the jugular. When you’re one of the experienced players in the team, the team’s more important than yourself and maybe I’ve sacrificed myself in certain games and tried to protect by playing deeper and be a controller with Joe (Allen).

“But now that Lucas is back he gives me the licence to get forward a lot more so hopefully I can add some goals to my performances.

“I’ve got the buzz that the team’s improving and it’s going to get better. I’m confident that come the end of the season, I will be satisfied with myself and the team because I do believe we can finish the season really strong.”

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