Over the last couple of seasons, Liverpool have been fortunate enough to have a variety of defensive midfielders who have stepped up and helped Liverpool in their own way.
Since Brendan Rodgers took over the reins at Anfield from Kenny Dalglish, he had brought along with him Joe Allen for around £15 million. With such a high price for Joe Allen, it is no wonder that Liverpool fans put him under the microscope.
Joe Allen started his debut season with a bang. He hit the ground running. Liverpool fans were soon won over as they were quite impressed with his ball skills, sleek passing and hardwork. Things started well for Allen, his passing accuracy was 92.875%. Then in October 2012 there was a dip in form to 86%. He never recovered. This coincided with his shoulder injury that he had sustained.
On top of that Joe Allen had become a father at the end of August. As every parent knows, once you have a baby, you will have many sleepless nights that will leave you tired and hence performing under par. Despite his difficulties, Allen is still able to command some impressive results. In the season 2012-13, he only had 11.93% of back passes; Henderson completed 19% and Gerrard 15%.
Perhaps the most misconception about Allen is that he only does short passes. Contrary to that belief, Allen can also deliver long passes. His long passes are the second best in the league at 89%. What Allen loves to do is to receive the ball quickly and distribute quickly to his fellow teammates. For this to happen, his fellow teammates need to be close to him. Joe Allen continued playing despite his shoulder injury. As a result his form dipped and he only went for his shoulder surgery in March 2013.
His sacrifices on the pitch should not go unnoticed and every effort should be brought to Joe Allen to be fit once again for Liverpool. Joe Allen has only recently started to train with the team and has yet to start a game this season.
Jordan Henderson is another player who recently took the defensive midfielder role in place of Lucas who was suspended for one match.
Jordan Henderson arrived from Sunderland with much fanfare during King Kenny’s second spell at the club. He was signed for £16 million in 2011. Many fans were shocked at how much Liverpool were paying for an average British player. What Liverpool have found out is that he was not a winger, nor is he a full-back, or a wing-back. Henderson is a central midfielder. On top of that Liverpool found out that he is very hardworking and very versatile. Whenever he is called upon for whatever role he always gives 100%.
Jordan Henderson has become more like Kuyt and Lucas. He will always do his job well no matter what role he has been given. He is the type of players which managers dream of having.
In his first season with Liverpool, you can’t really blame Henderson for his poor performance. He played out of position as he was just following his manager’s instructions. When Brendan Rodgers took over, the Liverpooll manager almost shipped Henderson out to Fulham. But Henderson dug in and worked hard for a place in the team.
Henderson was given a chance on the right, with Lucas in the center and Gerrard on the right. His energy means he can press the opposition high up the pitch, and thus the team can win the ball higher up the pitch, a vital ingredient in an offensive style of play.
Such as the improvements that Henderson had made so far, his name is always on the manager’s list. Of course there is always room for improvement as Henderson is still young.
Another midfielder worth looking at is Lucas Livia. This is a young man which most fans cannot decide whether to love him or hate him. His career was temporarily interrupted when he was sidelined due to an injury he sustained in November when he suffered an anterior cruciate ligament damage to his knee during a Carling Cup victory at Stamford Bridge.
Off the pitch he continued to work hard at regaining his fitness. Pretty soon he worked his way back into Brendan Rodger’s team and has also always been first on the team sheet.
One of Lucas’ strengths is undoubtedly his knack to put in tackles against the opponent players. In the 2012/13 season, he had won an amazing 90 tackles and only having lost just 30 tackles.
Lucas generally operates in his own half and around the circle center. His passing accuracy is quite an achievement too. Having won the ball, he will pass immediately to his fellow teammates. His passing accuracy is 87.60% in his own half and 84.10% in the opponent’s half.
It is also at this point to understand how a tackle works. A tackle is defined as – “where a player connects with the ball in a ground challenge where he successfully takes the ball away from the man in possession.”
A Tackle Won is deemed to be where the tackler or one of his team-mates regains possession as a result of the challenge, or that the ball goes out of play and is “safe”. A Tackle Lost is where a tackle is made but the ball goes to an opposition player.
Despite his strengths, he too has some weakness as well. Lucas Leiva is perhaps one of the clumsiest players in the Premier League. Too often he sends players to the turf because his tackling ability is not up to scratch. Lucas has committed the second highest number of fouls in the Premier League for a defensive midfielder, averaging two fouls per game. He is also successfully dribbled around 1.5 times per game on average. The more fouls he commits, the more set pieces Liverpool need to defend. This current season he has already accumulated enough yellow cards to warrant a suspension.
Lucas also has a lack of creativity. He hardly ventures out into the final third of the opponents half. He has provided 0 assists. So far he has only 1 attempt at goal this season.
So which of the above player makes a better defensive midfielder? Only time will tell.
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