There is no doubt that during the 1990s and 2000s, Steven Gerrard, Frank Lampard and Paul Scholes were amongst the most important English midfielders in the English Premier League. But who was best out of those three? And how do you arrive at such a decision?
Fans of the teams that the players represented will, of course, be biased, but we can look at the career statistics from all three players to help us come to a more analytical conclusion.
Former Manchester United man Scholesey bagged an incredible 11 Premier League titles, three FA Cups, two League Cups, two UEFA Champions League crowns and one FIFA Club World Cup, while Chelsea legend Frank Lampard helped Chelsea to win three Premier League titles, four FA Cups, two League Cups, one UEFA Champions League and one UEFA Europa League.
Steven Gerrard failed to win a Premier League title with Liverpool but did pick up two FA Cups, three League Cups, one UEFA Champions League, one UEFA Cup and one UEFA Super Cup during his time at Anfield. In terms of pure trophies, Paul Scholes comes out on top but of course, he did play for the most dominant team in English football over the last 25 years.
World and UEFA Team awards
When it comes to World XI nominations, Gerrard and Lampard and come out on top with eight nods each compared to Scholes’ two, while Gerrard made the final cut on three occasions, ahead of Lampard on one and Scholes on zero.
Steven Gerrard was included in three UEFA Team of the Years, something that Lamps and Scholes failed to achieve and the Liverpool man was also unique amongst the three having been voted UEFA player of the year in 2005. He also came third in the Ballon d’Or awards that year. (Lampard second in 2005)
Goals and assists
According to Premier League statistics, Stevie G netted 120 times and provided 92 assists in his 504 league appearances for Liverpool, while Scholes made five fewer appearances than the Liverpool man, scoring 107 goals and conjuring up 55 assists. However, it is the former Chelsea man who comes out on top in this category, with 177 goals and 102 assists in 609 Premier League appearances.
Gerrard completed more tackles than the other two, with a higher overall success rate. He also comes out on top in terms of interceptions, clearances, recoveries and duels won – and was far superior in the air.
Paul Scholes was an important but understated cog in a well-oiled United team and while the parts around him were often replaced, the Salford-born maestro? was an ever-present during the clubs most successful era. In contrast, Gerrard often stood out as the driving force behind a Liverpool team that struggled to reach their previous heights of success. His overall influence on the Merseyside team was, therefore, more tangible as illustrated by his performance in their Champions League win over AC Milan in Istanbul.
Frank Lampard joined a Chelsea side that was lagging behind their Premier League rivals but by the time he left, they were established as one of Europe’s top teams. There is no doubt that he played a major role in that transition, a fact cemented by the club’s unwillingness to replace him during their most spendthrift years.
All three players had their own strengths and weakness but of the three, it is midfield engine Steven Gerrard just gets the nod thanks to his box-to-box ability, overall influence and superior defensive stats.