When it comes to Lucas there are three words that must be stated: Do not sell. Liverpool’s number 21 has been the axis on which points are lost or won. His inclusion in the team has cemented a peak in form and an unbeaten run of 9 games in all competitions. The domino effect takes place when playing the unshakeable midfielder; everyone plays better with him in the side. The crowd surfer at Anfield has definitely earned all praise thrown his way.
Lucas offers an extra layer of protection at the back for Liverpool. His defenders have less work to do because he is busy cutting out balls and snuffing out potential attacks before they materialise. Lucas is unafraid of going in for a tackle or putting himself on the line. He will do that for the team. His stubbornness in this role is what makes him so successful and vital to an overall competent performance. Lucas acts as cover and gives the defence other options as we saw against Chelsea in the Capital One cup. His awareness is sharp and his top priority is to defend. He is disciplined and can read the game well.
What the statistics say
Lucas’ strengths are tackling, intercepting play and passing. During the match against Chelsea at Anfield Lucas’ tackle success rate was 70%, winning 7 of the 10 tackles he attempted. He boasted 100% success rate in the aerial duels he was involved in and achieved an 88% pass accuracy. His fluency in his role tells of a cultured player who is decisive, commanding and unafraid to get stuck in when it matters. Lucas committed no fouls in a game where he was a strong contender as man of the match in a Liverpool shirt.
Lucas paves the way for Gerrard
Brendan Rodgers should be commended for finding a system that works. Bringing Lucas back in gives Gerrard the license to play freely up front in a position where he causes most damage and which brings out his best qualities. In this advanced role, the captain can attack and defend from the front, he can shoot from range or provide the instinctual pass. It was down to misfortune that the captain did not get his name on the score sheet, being denied by the bar after beating Courtois. Lucas filling the gap Gerrard leaves in midfield means the best is brought out of Liverpool’s number 8.
The effect Lucas has had on the team may be up for discussion but the timing seems to be crucial. His emergence and dominance in this role has helped the other new players in the system. Can is growing in confidence and has earned a regular place in the team. Although he can still be inconsistent, he fits in well to Rodgers’ new style of play and has the more experienced Sakho and Skrtel to guide him. He will only get better.
Sakho had a great game against Chelsea, not only in defence but in providing through balls that cut Chelsea’s team wide open. A massive opportunity was presented to Moreno by Sakho in a ball that wasn’t expected by anyone yet the Frenchman had the vision and the ability to reach his man. I see Sakho growing in assurance and getting used to the pace and frenetic nature of defending in the Premier League, a strong bond is developing between him and Martin Skrtel.
Markovic is another player making things happen, instilling faith in the supporters and his manager. Growing in confidence and making those ever so crucial attacking runs he is always a threat going forward and hopefully with Sturridge’s return this can be a deadly duo. He just needs to add goals to his gall but we are definitely starting to understand why Rodgers brought him in.
Coutinho has always held a special place in Liverpool fans’ hearts, yet his skill is still rapidly improving. His speed and quick thinking bewilder opponents and coupled with Sterling- if their form continues to improve- Liverpool’s firepower will increase with ease.
The future is looking brighter and brighter for Liverpool, if only they can convert more chances to goals. Going into the weekend’s FA Cup fixture against Bolton and looking to extend their unbeaten run to 10 games will definitely spur the team on. All is still to play for in current competitions and this is Liverpool’s time to progress. Fingers crossed that Lucas continues to spread his good form onto the rest of the team.
*statistics courtesy of whoscored.com