Anfield was blessed by good news today as it emerged that captain Steven Gerrard has set an initial date for a return to action. The midfielder, who has been out since he underwent groin surgery in March, said he expects to be ready to return to the team on September 18, when Liverpool play Tottenham at White Hart Lane.
When fit, Gerrard is one of the best players in the Premier League, and a key player in the heart of the Liverpool midfield. The 31-year-old suffered a season-ending injury on March 6 in a 3-1 victory over Manchester United, but was expected to be able to return for the 2011 season opener. Liverpool have coped surprisingly well without him, a testament to the solid depth of strong players throughout the squad.
That said, Gerrard will instantly improve the team. As the Reds' only true attacking option from the midfield, he opens up significantly more options in regards to tactics, formation and squad selection. For now, it is unclear how Liverpool plan to incorporate him, but it is unlikely they stray too far from the formations that have brought in seven points so far this season.
Most recently, the Reds put out a hybrid 4-2-3-1 formation, with youngster Jordan Henderson, flanked by Dirk Kuyt and Stewart Downing and backed up by Charlie Adam and Lucas, supporting the lone striker Luis Suarez. It wouldn't be surprising to see manager Kenny Dalglish return to that option for the time being, with Henderson moving to the right side and Gerrard slotting in as the central attacking midfielder.
Whichever players Liverpool send out in the next few games, Steven Gerrard drastically changes the dynamics of the squad. He offers a big improvement to an already strong looking team. Liverpool are lucky to have him back.
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