April 27th, the Battle of Anfield saw Chelsea launching an assault on Liverpool in a quest to derail the Reds’ title quest.
With the sides tied, and Chelsea proving impossible to break down, Liverpool’s Steven Gerrard fell and his slip proved fatal as the Kop faithful were forced to wait another year for Premier League glory. Liverpool tried and tried again to get themselves back into the game but with all their slick passing and much praised style of play, they could not break down Chelsea.
Which is why the signing of Rickie Lambert for Liverpool is very shrewd business on the part of Brendan Rodgers. Liverpool rely on the goals of Luis Suarez and Daniel Sturridge to earn three points, but last season when teams played aggressively against them, they struggled to break teams down. Rickie Lambert will give Rodgers a Plan B when Plan A doesn’t work.
Rickie Lambert fits the bill as a traditional No. 9. At 6’ 2” he is a difficult striker for centre halves to deal with. He is good in the air and can cause defence’s problems with his physical stature. But he is much more than a target man.
When Mauricio Pochettino came to Southampton, Lambert played in a team that was heavily praised for the football – their slick passing and smooth style, very like Liverpool. He linked up with the likes of Adam Lallana and Jay Rodriguez effortlessly and oozed class while doing so.
Lambert will fit into the Liverpool mould if needed. With the Champions League meaning a hectic calender for Liverpool, they cannot put Luis Suarez or Daniel Sturridge through a 50 or 60 game season. Lambert will be able to fill in without causing a complete tactical shift in how Liverpool play.
Many will claim he is too old, but looking back at Lambert’s career he has gotten better with age. He made his debut in the Premier League two seasons ago with Southampton his first season saw him score 15 goals, the following saw him fire in 14. Add to that the 10 assists he got last season, he is still a powerful force.
We know he will not start over Suarez or Sturridge, but as a man to spring from the bench, there are few better than Lambert. He knows exactly where the back of the net is, and add to the fact he has become a bit of a free kick specialist with his wicked left foot, a goal from Lambert is more than likely. He may even be able to strip penalty taking duties for the Gerrard, Lambert’s penalty record from the last 34 times he has visited the spot stands at 34 and 0.
The Rickie Lambert Story is one of the truly great football stories, battling in the lower leagues before joining Southampton in League One, and firing the side to back to back promotions to get to the Premier League. He scored on his very first Premier League appearance becoming one the select few players to score in all four divisions.
In the following season he made his international debut for England aged 31. When Roy Hodgson sprung Lambert from the bench, he scored with his first touch what proved to be the winning goal. A real modern day Roy of the Rovers.
And now he has joined his boyhood club, and while many strikers careers would be slowing down with age, the 32-year-old just keeps getting bigger and better. Lambert, we can assume, will be the first of many signings at Anfield, but at a bargain £4 million he may very well prove to be one of the most important.
Steve Neville, Pundit Arena.