Hands up – who misses Lucas Leiva? He picked up an anterior cruciate ligament injury in a clash with Chelsea’s Juan Mata during the Liverpool’s 2-0 victory over the Blues and has been in convalescence ever since. Since there’s very little chance that he will appear for the Reds again this season, Liverpool’s chances of catching the last remaining Champions League slot seem to be dwindling.
It’s fair to say that his absence has been widely felt around Anfield and that the Reds miss his organisational skills at the heart of their midfield.
Without Lucas in tow, Liverpool’s midfield looks ill-disciplined and unruly. Charlie Adam doesn’t provide the same competitive edge and is favoured instead for his range of passing. Steven Gerrard is played further up the pitch in order to tap into his attacking potential. Without him in the side opposition players are afforded so much more time and space.
His presence alone congested the midfield and made it difficult for other teams to break Liverpool down. Nowadays it’s all too easy for opposing teams to fire in balls behind the midfield and start off attacks.
The fact that I’m talking about Lucas in such glowing terms is in itself revealing. It’s not like he fulfils a particularly explosive or camera-grabbing role. Instead he’s quietly effective. He wins the ball back, keeps it short but positive in his passing and keeps Liverpool ticking over. This subtle style of play is the reason why it took a while for fans to start to properly appreciate Lucas.
Liverpool’s difficulties without him are a testament to his skill, persistence and near unrivalled ability in his area of the pitch.
They say that absence makes the heart grow fonder, but I think in Lucas’ case, the Reds are genuinely struggling without him. He provides the midfield with shape and structure and allows Adam and Gerrard a chance to get forward and focus on attacking.
Though Adam has had a mixed debut Liverpool season, he was at his best when he was playing alongside the brilliant Brazilian. He just seems to inspire those around him to up their games.
It seems trite to suggest that Liverpool miss Lucas. It was obvious that he’d be a huge loss the moment he was ruled out for an extended period of time. Yet would anybody have been able to guess exactly how badly the Reds were going to miss him?
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