A deep look at the rivalry between Steven Gerrard and Frank Lampard

Steven Gerrard and Frank Lampard were linked together throughout their brilliant careers, but who was the better player and why?
Chelsea's Frank Lampard (L) greets Liver
Chelsea's Frank Lampard (L) greets Liver / ODD ANDERSEN/GettyImages

Every great player in sports needs their own counterpart. A player or athlete that pushes them to be better. Someone they will always be compared with even if the endless debate becomes cumbersome. Jordan and Lebron. Cristiano Ronaldo and Leo Messi. Henry and Shearer. The list could go on and on.

However, from 2001-2014 the rivalry and discussion surrounding two of the greatest English midfielders of all-time, Steven Gerrard and Frank Lampard, took center stage more often than not.

They were both club legends at Liverpool and Chelsea respectively and they both had success bringing silverware to their sides.

I'm going to take an in-depth look to see who was the best of the two and what made this argument so compelling for not only Chelsea, Liverpool or England fans, but football fans in general.

The Credentials

Lampard scored 211 goals along with 146 assists during his 13 seasons playing for the Blues. The club won 11 trophies during his time, including 3 Premier League titles and 1 Champions League.

Gerrard netted 186 goals with 154 assists for the Reds in his 17 seasons at Anfield. Gerrard and the Reds secured 9 trophies during his time including a Champions League and 2 FA Cups.

Stevie made all 114 of his England caps as a Liverpool player which is the most won by a player for a single team. Lampard made 106 England runouts and is the leading appearance maker among Chelsea players for England all-time.

Steven Gerrard, Frank Lampard
Moldova v England - FIFA 2014 World Cup Qualifier / Michael Regan/GettyImages

While John Terry was the unquestioned captain at Chelsea, Lampard did sport the armband more than enough in his own right. However, he failed to hit the summit that Gerrard did as Liverpool's inspirational Captain and leader.

The credentials are close, however, despite Lamps playing in a typically more well-rounded team with bigger stars, he only managed two more trophies than Gerrard .

The Conundrum

While at a glance, one might assume the Gerrard vs. Lampard debate was redundant as they were similar players. That is not the case at all.

While both men were hugely influential for their respective sides, they went about the business in different ways. Gerrard was a box-to-box machine that was as gifted getting stuck into a tackle as he was letting a belter fly from 25 yards.

Lampard was a more attack-minded midfielder, almost a hybrid CM/CAM role as he never fully embraced the 10 role. However, his tremendous timing on his attacking runs meant he was never far away from elite level scoring chances.

Gerrard was a dynamic midfielder that could do anything the team needed him to do on that day. It's part of what made him such a great leader both through his actions but also through his clear passion.

Seven times in his career did Stevie record double-digit goals in all comps, whereas Lampard achieved that feat 11 times, including ten consecutive seasons.

However, what sets Gerrard apart from Lampard is his all-round game as well as being the focal point more often than not for Liverpool while Lamps could rely on a bevy of other superstars on any given day.

Both players were gifted passers of the ball but Gerrard's unlimited range pushes him just ahead once again.

The duo could never quite mesh for the Three Lions

You would guess that having two generational midfielders, not even counting Pau Scholes, England would have been running through international football.

As it were, while they did have their nuanced differences, at their core, they wanted to have the same kind of impact going forward. Gerrard loved to carry the ball forward while Lampard would bomb forward looking for the pass. Their link-up never synced up in the timing or responsibility departments.

Typically, one of the two or Scholes would be asked to play out of position a bit wider or further forward to alleviate some of the cluster in the center of the park.

In a way, all three men hampered each other through their own gifts and abilities. It was a case of needing a team and not a collection of superstars, which is not unlike what we are seeing from England at Euro 2024 so far.

It goes beyond the numbers...

There is no denying that Frank Lampard is a Chelsea legend and he is still beloved today if you were to talk to most Blues fans. He was a big player for the club during one of their most sustained periods of success.

Having said that, his impact beyond the box score falls short of what we know Gerrard offered, and in a sense, still offers Liverpool.

Gerrard, while one of the best players in the club's history, also let his mark through his unrivaled leadership, love of the city and club while also showing up in the biggest moments when he was needed most. AC Milan. West Ham. Olympiakos. City. United. If you know, you know, and the list goes on and on.

He was able to lift some Liverpool teams that had no business reaching the heights they did but they got there because of Gerrard.

Steven Gerrard
British Royalty Attend FA Cup Final / Anwar Hussein Collection/GettyImages

When he got to play with top players like Xabi Alonso, Fernando Torres, Luis Suarez, Dirk Kuyt and more, he was able to elevate himself and them to new levels. For example, Torres had his best 3 seasons as a pro when he was linked up with Gerrard at Anfield.

The Verdict

As we comb through the numbers, results, videos, opinions and more, there is usually one answer that comes up. While Lampard was an all-time great, he does not quite reach the Steven Gerrard class.

Gerrard was one of the most complete footballers any fan or coach could have hoped for. Defensive skills, work rate, scoring and creating chances, leadership, passion and love for the club and fans, working with a tougher environment for fiscal reasons all lend themselves to the credence that Gerrard is the better of the two.

He could impact a match in so many ways without taking a single shot. That cannot be said for Lampard on a consistent basis during his career.

In the end, while they had two amazing careers, Liverpool were lucky enough to be graced by one of the best players of his time, let alone midfielders.

That's it, I have solved the debate! But really, this worthy discussion will go on but I hope I brought you all closer to the right side of history in the debate.