There’s been debate for a while among Liverpool fans about if the central midfield partnership of Brazilian Lucas and Argentine captain Javier Mascherano really works. Yesterdays game against Manchester United went a long way to proving it does, but only when the right tactics are employed.
In most games this season we’ve seen both Lucas and Mascherano held back in deep defensive midfield roles, rarely given the freedom to break forward and try to create something for the forward players or go for goal themselves. Even the odd time that Mascherano has got forward it’s normally only for an unlikely long range shot which goes wide or is rounded up by the opposition keeper with relative ease. This is the major problem with playing both players in a defensive role, it doesn’t just restrict them, it restricts the rest of the team and our number of chances on goal.
Against Manchester United it was a different story, both Lucas and Mascherano were given the freedom to move forward and try and set something up. I don’t know whether it was because the pressure was on for a result or whether Rafa just thought it was time for a change but it worked. Both players had brilliant games, with many claiming the much-criticised Lucas was the man-of-the-match against our bitter rivals. I’ve got to say I partly agree, he made some good forward runs, creating chances and even set up David N’gog’s stoppage time goal. At the same time neither player ignored their defensive duties. They knew that against a team as strong going forward as Manchester United they’d have to be on the ball and they’d have to be back supporting Carragher and Agger.
So, will we see this again, or will Rafa opt to tell them both to stay deep? Well, I fully expect both Lucas and Mascherano to be let off their leash again in upcoming fixtures. Against United both proved they can be in the right position at the right time, they won’t stray to far forward and leave us exposed at the back. It shows how much both want to be in the squad, they played with a level of dedication that is synonymous with Liverpool F.C of yesteryear and long may it continue into the future.