Has the Time Come for Liverpool to Look Beyond Lucas Leiva?

Max Munton@thisisanfieldLiverpool CorrespondentDecember 13, 2013

LONDON, ENGLAND - NOVEMBER 02:  Lucas Leiva of Liverpool and Santi Cazorla of Arsenal battle for the ball during the Barclays Premier League match between Arsenal and Liverpool at Emirates Stadium on November 2, 2013 in London, England.  (Photo by Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images)
Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images

The central midfield partnership of Steven Gerrard and Lucas Leiva has been a regular fixture for Liverpool this season, but there are signs that it is beginning to crack. 

By the time Gerrard pulled his hamstring against West Ham last weekend, Lucas looked to have lost his starting berth alongside the Liverpool captain. 

After an injury-troubled first year at the club, Brendan Rodgers has turned his trust back to his prodigy from Swansea City, Joe Allen, to replace the underperforming Lucas.


The Decline of Lucas

Much has been made of Liverpool’s troublesome midfield problems this campaign, but whilst Gerrard’s form has improved and proved the critics wrong, Lucas’ has continued to decline.

Furthermore, it would be fair to say that Lucas hasn’t been the same player since returning from long-term injury just over a year ago. 

In 2013/14, according to Squawka, Lucas has a performance score of 252 from his 12 appearances, a pass-accuracy record of 91 percent and has created six chances.

Not bad.

But look closer at Lucas’ game and there are an alarming number of faults appearing.

His positioning in midfield is leaving gaping holes between Liverpool’s defence and midfield for attackers to exploit.

His lack of pace is proving a struggle to himself and his teammates as he constantly readjusts himself to cope with the dynamic shift between defence and attack.

Squawka’s statistics also reveal that Lucas wins just 45 percent of duels on the pitch, has had just one shot all season and earned himself five yellow cards in the process.

On the visit to league-leaders Arsenal last month, Lucas was nowhere to be seen, as Santi Cazorla and Aaron Ramsey strolled through Liverpool’s midfield to score the Gunners’ winners. 

It is no surprise, then, that Rodgers has looked to Allen to step up to fix Liverpool’s midfield frailties.

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - DECEMBER 07:  Joe Allen of Liverpool competes with Mohamed Diame of West Ham United during the Barclays Premier League match between Liverpool and West Ham United at Anfield on December 7, 2013 in Liverpool, England.  (Photo by Clive
Clive Brunskill/Getty Images


The Rise Of Allen

Allen provides a quicker, more exciting option alongside Gerrard in midfield.

He has formed a good, intelligent understanding with the 33-year-old in recent games.

Allen's and Gerrard’s games compliment each other. Allen has the legs to chase balls over the pitch and become the catalyst between midfield and attack, allowing Gerrard to attend to more defensive duties.

Gerrard now has the freedom to pick up the ball deep in his own half, and instead of striding forward looking for playmaking options himself, can play a short ball off to Allen, ten years his younger, to continue the play. 


Last Chance Saloon

Gerrard’s injury almost certainly means Lucas has another shot at showing Rodgers he is worthy of a first-team place at Liverpool and to be part of the Northern Irishman’s future plans.

If Lucas is to have a future at Anfield, the time to step up and show his capabilities is now.

Unfortunately for the Brazilian, Liverpool’s hardest run of games this season is about to begin, and it is just before the January transfer window when Rodgers may ultimately look to replace him.


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