15 Mar 2014

Don't read this, Lucas: BR delivers some bad news for LFC's 'valuable' Brazilian star

Liverpool midfielder Lucas Leiva returns to the squad for this weekend's game with Manchester United, but have the Reds missed him whilst he's been out injured? Brendan Rodgers doesn't think so, which suggests that the Brazilian's days as an automatic starter are numbered.

In his pre-Manchester United press conference on Friday, Rodgers engaged in the following verbatim exchange with a journalist:

Journo: "Have you missed them [Lucas and Sakho] as much as you thought you would, or not, as the case may be?"

Rodgers: "What do you think?"

Journo: "When Lucas was out, the atmosphere was that you might miss him more, but the evidence [that LFC have missed Lucas] isn't there".

Rodgers. "There You go. We put Steven Gerrard in the position, and he's been brilliant. He moved there just before Lucas got injured, and he's shown that he can dictate the tempo of a game from there".

"Lucas is very valuable player for us in our squad, and if he's called upon to play, or come off the bench between now and the end of the season, we will use him".

Rodgers has basically confirmed here that Liverpool haven't missed Lucas, and that his place in the team is now occupied by Steven Gerrard.

Am I wrong?

Instead of answering the question directly (and therefore giving the press direct quotes to use), Rodgers engineered a fairly unambiguous answer by omission. Pretty clever, really.

Is it fair to suggest that Liverpool haven't missed Lucas, though? Below is a comparison between LFC's last 8 games without the Brazilian, and the 8 games immediately prior to his injury:


* P8 W6 D1 L1 F23 A9 GD:14 CS:3
* 75% win rate. 88% unbeaten.
* 2.8 goals scored per game.
* 1.1 goals conceded per game.


* P8 W5 D1 L2 F18 A10 GD:8 CS:3
* 62% win rate. 75% unbeaten.
* 2.2 goals scored per game.
* 1.2 goals conceded per game.

With Lucas out of the team, the stats show that Liverpool have scored more; conceded less; achieved better goal difference; won more games, and lost fewer.

Of course, it's a team game, but when considering the question 'Have Liverpool missed Lucas?', the answer is clearly NO. The margins are small, but several specific aspects of the team seem to have improved over the last 8 games.

As such, with Gerrard firmly ensconced in the DM role, I suspect Lucas - and Sakho - will be warming the bench for most of the last two months of the season, something both will find immensely frustrating considering their world cup ambitions.

At this stage, Joe Allen may even be slightly ahead of Lucas in the pecking order, and I'd imagine the Welshman has more chance of featuring in this Sunday's game against Man Utd.

As for Sakho - Liverpool kept a clean-sheet or first time in FIVE games against Southampton, so I sincerely doubt Rodgers will drop Agger or Skrtel to accommodate him.

In any event, neither Lucas nor Sakho will be match-fit, so keeping them on the bench for a titanic match with Man Utd is undoubtedly the right decision.



  1. Sakho is raw at the moment but I'd rather have him that Agger...Agger is a liability, he is a very poor defender that is on borrowed time at Anfield

  2. Lucas will come in handy between now and end of season, specifically thinking of the city/chelsea games. As for Sakho think he'll be 1st choice by end of season if not defo next season. Thought he was just getting up to speed before injury.

    All good though, with an healthy competition for places especially with champs league next year and hopefully a few quality additions,

    Wouldn't mind the Adriano rumour being true, think he'd give some good pace and experience down the left flank.

  3. Chelski f**ked up! Come on Liverpool! Now we pounce!!!!

  4. I would say when journalist was answering only Lucas was in question. He was not mentioning Sakho. I don't tink Sakho will be benchwarmer.

  5. Your perspective is too narrow. You are manufacturing a story based on supposition. Rodgers is very good at mis-direction in press conferences.

  6. Lucas and Sakho will remain on the bench because they've just returned from injury and the team is on fire. If we weren't winning games there would be opportunities for both of them to come straight back in. I think that's pretty obvious and no narrowly selected stats are required to suggest so.

    Allen has started games recently due to tactical decisions and because Coutinho has been average. It makes sense to start Allen against United, but if don't control the game, he is pretty much useless.

    When we have the ball everything is fine but when we lose it or do not consistently control it, Gerrard is a defensive liability, people just refuse to see it. That's the only reason I still think that Lucas has a way in.

  7. F**king oath. Someone originally told me that he WAS officiating. I immediately felt down about the match. NOT ANYMORE. GET IIIIIIIIIN!!!

  8. Hoping we really take the game to Utd. We've often played like cowards there in the past.

  9. I think once Sakho is back to full fitness he needs to be starting. Before he got injured he was putting in some really solid performances and Agger seems a shadow of his former self. I still think Lucas is a solid player for me but I shudder at the thought of him and Gerrard both playing holding. Its so immobile. Bringing him on to seal victories and using him in rotation seems the best option at this stage of the season.

  10. I agree. I think once Sakho is fit again he will replace Agger. Unless Agger can up his game then he will be replaced. Doesnt seem the same player anymore. His confidence feels really low for me.

  11. It is clear to see that Lucas will no longer be an automatic starter with Gerrard now playing the deeper role.

  12. If Andrea Pirlo can come to the conclusion that Gerrard "has all the qualities to play a deeper role." who is 34 now and has been playing this role for many a year, then I would think a fellow pro footballer knows what he is talking about.

    Maybe you are being to generous with your claim about Gerrard ;-)

  13. I think you are right. But I can also see it forcing Lucas to raise his game. Which isn't a bad thing at all..

  14. Great position for the club to be in, that a Brazil international can be left on the bench. It's a sign to me that we actually never needed another central midfielder despite protests from the fans. I think Lucas will only get a chance if we have to manage an injury or significant change in tactics. When we're playing this well that's how it should be. Hard on the player, but a sign of just how well the team is playing.

  15. Jamie, normally enjoy your stats as they look to add a degree of objectivity / data to avoid simple opinion conflicts. However on this occasion have to say they have limited relevance: You cannot take those particular set of 8 matches and that games that included Chelsea & Man City can be compared with those without. Those two games skew your whole point. Even allowing for we should have got something from City game (I disagree about the Chelsea game - I think they edged it). What's your thoughts on Johnson? I think something looks awfully wrong with him and sincerely would take Cissoko & Flanno as full backs in this game. (Also do Rooney & Mata play in the same role?)

  16. Time will tell on that one but serie A is slower than EPL not sure Pirlo himself would be the same player in England.

  17. That is true of almost all football stats plus they can only look backwards. IMO they should be treated with the same degree of qusetioning skepticism applied to every other aspect of football.

  18. It is not about Pirlo playing in England, it is about Pirlo saying that Gerrard has all the qualities to fulfill the role.