Gerrard and ‘Lamps’ nail the old myth

Steven Gerrard celebrates his opener for England

Steven Gerrard celebrates his opener for England

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Frank Lampard rolled the ball sideways to Steven Gerrard on the edge of the penalty area and the England captain duly clipped the ball past Moldovan goalkeeper Stanislav Namasco.

It was Gerrard’s 20th goal for his country and 15 of them have come in the 57 matches he has started alongside Lampard.

Apologies for the dry statistics on a night when England defeated Moldova 4-0 at Wembley, but it is important to nail the myth that Gerrard and Lampard cannot play together.

Yes, they can and not just because Gary Lineker was prompted to tweet ‘who said Lampard and Gerrard can’t play together?’ within seconds of Gerrard’s goal rippling the Moldovan net.

As an English double act Gerrard and Lampard might not be viewed as affectionately as Morecambe and Wise, but when it comes to longevity in football terms there is not much to beat them. In a week when new FA chairman Greg Dyke underlined the dearth of English talent the sight of the Liverpool and Chelsea stars was good news and bad news.

Bad in that England are desperate for a new hub of creative midfield talent to replace men with so many miles on the clock.

Good in that England’s remaining matches in World Cup Qualifying Group H will require composure and experience if they are to be negotiated successfully.

In short, the road to Rio appears to rest on the success of Gerrard and Lampard, a soap opera which has been going for more than a decade.

Gerrard is 33 with 105 caps and 20 goals to his name. Lampard is 35 with 99 caps and 29 goals. The debate during that time has been endless. They can play together. They can’t play together. One can hold when the other attacks. Neither has the instinct to defend, leaving the team vulnerable against the top sides, or so the critics argue.

We really have heard it all, dissected every nuance of two of the finest midfield players to grace the English game in the Premier League era.

The most pertinent fact of all is that they are still here, running the show at Wembley after all these years, even if it was against a Moldovan side lacking any ambition.

They give England solidity yet they may need more if they are to negotiate the real danger of Ukraine on Tuesday and Montenegro and Poland at Wembley next month.

That is where Jack Wilshere comes in. The 21-year-old Arsenal man’s ninth cap for his country was not his best. But forget the goals from Gerrard and Ricky Lambert and the two from Danny Welbeck, that cameo when Wilshere surged past defenders into the Moldovan penalty area to bring a fine save from Namasco was reminiscent of Paul Gascoigne.

That is the quality England will need before, during and after Rio.

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