UK & Ireland Football

Gerrard v Lampard: Who is top dog at club level?

Players Under The Microscope RSS / / 18 March 2009 / 1 Comments

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We've heard time and time again about how these two can't play together for England but noone doubts their individual performances at club level. But which of the two has been, and will be, most important to their team as the season draws to a close, asks Andrew Atherley.

Steven Gerrard and Frank Lampard have been compared against each other for years, particularly when they play alongside each other for England. But it will be their individual performances at club level over the next couple of months that might help to decide the destiny of the season's big prizes.

Both are talismanic players for their club teams, with many parallels to be drawn from their statistics, yet there are differences that could prove important as the season builds to a climax.
This season there is hardly anything between them on Premier League figures - both have scored 10 goals, though Lampard arguably has a slight edge as he has one more assist (seven to Gerrard's six) and has scored one less penalty. Last season the balance was in Gerrard's favour, as he scored 11 Premier League goals to Lampard's 10. The Liverpool captain also had more assists (11 to Lampard's eight) and he was less reliant than Lampard on penalties for goals.

That is the only recent season in which Gerrard has got the better of Lampard, however. Overall, in the past five seasons (including the current one), Lampard has outscored Gerrard by one-third (60 goals to 45) and has a similarly superior number of assists (49 to 35)

Gerrard is improving, however, and for those who think Rafa Benitez does not get the best out of his star midfielder, the scoring figures are instructive. Gerrard scored five and four goals in the two seasons before Benitez took charge, but since then his lowest total was seven in 2004/05 and this is the third season in the last four that he has reached double figures.

Judged from that perspective, Benitez's ploy of pushing Gerrard forward in support of the main striker has been a success, particularly since the arrival of Fernando Torres. Gerrard's 11 goals last season was his best total ever and he is on course to better that this season.

Yet Gerrard, like his team, has contradictory elements, performing more consistently in Europe than domestically. While he has scored in five Champions League games against top-quality opposition this season, he has found the net only twice against top-half teams in the Premier League (Everton and Manchester United).

Lampard, too, scores most of his league goals against teams from the bottom half of the table (both he and Gerrard score around two-thirds of their league goals against such opposition). Unlike Gerrard, he does not have a great scoring record in Europe (one goal this season), so there is something of the flat-track bully about him. Even on his record in the past couple of seasons, which has seen a slight drop from Chelsea's title-winning campaigns, Lampard is around a [2.7] chance to score in games against bottom-half opponents, so he is well worth considering in those circumstances.

In their remaining nine league games, both Gerrard and Lampard will face four teams currently in the bottom half of the table, so their chances of adding to their goals tallies are roughly similar. That is interesting in the context of the Top English Goalscorer market, which has Wayne Rooney as [4.3] favourite, followed by Lampard at [6.6], the out-of-form Gabriel Agbonlahor at [7.0] and Gerrard at [7.2].

Rooney's case was advanced in this column when he was [11.5] but he looks on the skinny side now, given that he has five English players ahead of him in the scoring charts. His four-year average is 13.5 goals and there is a reasonable chance that one of those five players will pass that figure, which would make it difficult for Rooney to end up as the winner. Lampard's four-year average is 12.5 and he is well placed to surpass that, though it is a slight concern that he has scored only twice in the league since the turn of the year and just once since Guus Hiddink's arrival.

Gerrard will have to set a personal best to be Top English Goalscorer and does not have such solid claims as Lampard. Gerrard's chance may be compromised by Benitez's rotation policy, especially if the Champions League becomes the main focus for Liverpool.

How the two players finish the season will be important for their clubs, even though there is long-standing evidence that Gerrard's importance to Liverpool is overstated. Liverpool miss him less than might be expected - in previous seasons their points average hardly varied whether he played or not, though his absences have had more of a negative impact this season.

Lampard is more important to Chelsea - having been almost an ever-present for so many seasons, his absences last season undoubtedly hurt the Blues. They averaged 2.32 points per game when he started, which would have given them the title by a point if it had been replicated across the whole season. On the few occasions when he was absent, their average points per game dropped to 2.08.

The most striking affirmation of Lampard's importance is Chelsea's incredible strike-rate when he scores - 45 wins out of 49, with no defeats, in the past five seasons. That's a win rate of 93% with an average of 2.84 points per game every time his name is on the scoresheet, while Gerrard's comparable figures are 76% and 2.44 (high, but significantly below Lampard's).

As long as both players stay fit, then, Lampard might give the edge to Chelsea in the pursuit of Manchester United or at least in the battle for a Top 2 Finish, a market in which Chelsea are [1.77] and Liverpool are [2.24]. Any absence at this stage would probably hurt Chelsea more than Liverpool, but on the known variables Chelsea have to be the pick for a Top 2 Finish.
The Champions League might be a different matter, given that Liverpool and Gerrard clearly raise their game in that arena. Again, there is little to choose between the sides with Chelsea [6.8] third favourites in the Winner market and Liverpool next on [7.6], and Friday's quarter-final/semi-final draw could be crucial.

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Comments (1)

  1. moha | 15 February 2010

    gerrarad is one of the best and the best melfealder in inglesh foot ball comblet player

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