As expected, Aston Villa’s FA Cup semi-final win over Liverpool has brought up the sad fact that English midfield legend Steven Gerrard will not get his final appearance for the Reds in a Wembley final this May.
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Still, given Gerrard’s performance again this weekend as his Liverpool side lost limply to a Villa team who simply wanted it more and outclassed their opponents in almost every department for 90 minutes, it’s probably for the best that the 24-year-old bows out quietly.
Back in the side for the first time since his foolish red card in the recent defeat at home to Manchester United, Gerrard reminded us all that he is a fading force at this level, and why it is that manager Brendan Rodgers has tried to phase him out slowly this season. If anything, the hype surrounding the player’s chance at a final appearance in a Wembley FA Cup final on his 35th birthday clouded the manager’s judgement in deciding whether or not he should feature at all in this game.
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We are now spared the question of ‘can this be Gerrard’s final?’ on the 30th of May – the fact is, it probably couldn’t and wouldn’t be, though that wouldn’t stop Rodgers from being under immense pressure to field his veteran skipper in what would be a hugely risky move against a quality Arsenal side. It is best that Liverpool’s season effectively ends now, with the Reds now able to prepare for a new era without a player who has been a hinderance as much as a blessing in so much of his Anfield career.
Besides, the question of whether Gerrard can have his final seems irrelevant when it’s already happened – the midfielder has already provided us with one of the great finals in this competition’s history with his heroics against West Ham United back in 2006. At his peak, that was what Gerrard could do for Liverpool, and he single-handedly won that game when it looked lost – there would surely be no repeat of that this season.
For this season, it is perhaps time to turn our heads to the future in the form of Aston Villa’s captain fantastic in the form of Fabian Delph, who outshone Gerrard in every area and scored a crucial winner to cap a fine display in which he led by example. Wherever his future lies, presumably at a bigger club, he could make himself a legend for Villa in the final against Arsenal and is one to look out for for England for the next few years.