Liverpool may be on a winning run of form, but things are looking increasingly harder to keep it going.
First Lucas went down for six weeks with a thigh problem, and now the midfield gets even thinner as captain Steven Gerrard will likely miss at least two weeks with a hamstring injury.
Assistant manager Colin Pascoe said Gerrard will go for a scan and the club will wait for those results before announcing a timetable, but ESPN FC is reporting the 34-year-old will likely miss between two and three weeks. Thankfully for the club, that has the sound of a minor problem rather than anything longer term.
“Unfortunately, he felt his hamstring towards the end of the game and he is having a scan this morning and we are just waiting for results to come back,” Pascoe said following the win over Tottenham. “Hopefully the scans won’t show too much but as we’ve not got the results I can’t say too much.”
However, the new injury news will certainly test the resolve of Brendan Rodgers. The Liverpool manager said before the win over Tottenham this week that despite the injury to Lucas, he would not move midfielder Emre Can from his spot in emergency defense because he didn’t want to upset the balance of the team which had rattled off eight unbeaten, now nine with the win over Spurs. However, with the team missing both Lucas and Gerrard in the center of the pitch, his hand may be forced, despite the surprisingly solid play of Can in his new position.
Liverpool is looking at an FA Cup game against Crystal Palace set for this weekend followed by games against top four members Southampton and Manchester City plus one against Burnley as the calendar turns to March. Add in a pair of Europa League games during that time to give them six matches in 19 days, and it seems as though Gerrard could not have gone down at a worse point in the season.
The defensively sound Reds haven’t lost since December 14 when they were hammered 3-0 by Manchester United. During that span, they have kept a whopping five clean sheets and outscored opponents 15-5. Gerrard has missed three games during that unbeaten run, wins over Swansea, West Ham, and Aston Villa. With Gerrard out, Rodgers elected to put Lucas and Jordan Henderson in the middle of the field while Can deputized in defense alongside Martin Skrtel and Mamadou Sakho in a back three. With both Lucas and Gerrard now on the sidelines, Rodgers could recall Can back to the middle while returning the banished Dejan Lovren to the back line (or using one of his many full-backs in that role). He could also leave Can untouched in his new position and put Joe Allen in the middle. Allen hasn’t seen the starting lineup since that big loss to Manchester United, but did come on to play 74 minutes when Lucas went down, his only appearance since.