Friday, August 28, 2009

Gerrard to be back in his central mid-field role

Rafa Benitez is considering moving Steven Gerrard back into central midfield as he strives to kick-start both Liverpool and their skipper’s season this afternoon.

Benitez’s side travel to pointless Bolton Wanderers aiming to bounce back from the shock 3-1 home defeat against Aston Villa on Monday night.

Gerrard was among several poor performers on the evening for Liverpool, with the England international responsible for giving away the penalty from which Villa scored their third.

With the Anfield outfit chasing the game, the 29-year-old dropped into a more conventional central midfield role as Benitez sought more creativity from the middle of the park.

And the Liverpool manager may start with Gerrard in that position at the Reebok Stadium as he contemplates a change in his team’s approach.

“I was asked on Monday if teams had worked out our tactics,” said Benitez. “But the most common system in England is 4-4-2, most teams use that. So most teams are using the same tactics against each other, and still lots of goals are scored.

“But we have to change something if it’s necessary. We’re trying to do this. We have to work together and push harder, and I’m sure we will start winning games again.

“Moving Steven back into central midfield is an option, we have done that in a few games. The other day, because we needed different movements in the middle and attack we put him there.

“It’s an option we have, but I still have confidence in Lucas and Javier Mascherano.”

Benitez accepts that Gerrard has so far this season been below the exceptionally high standards he has set himself in recent years.

“We have seen Steven playing really well for a while now,” said the Liverpool manager. “He is one of our big names, a key player. He will continue to be that.

“He will know that he has played a couple of games that are not up to his best level.

“But because he so often plays really well, people maybe can see the difference.

“I know he will be ready now. The players are not stupid, they know when they are not playing well and not up to their best standard. He knows, everybody knows here, that we have to improve.”

However, Benitez does not believe Gerrard has been affected by the summer court case and acquittal following a nightclub incident in December.

“For Steven that has not been a problem,” said the Spaniard. “I was not naming any particular player when I was critical after the defeat by Villa.

“But it is clear that everyone has to improve, we have analysed things and we have talked to all the players.”

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