AnfieldIndex

Lucas Leiva | The Brazilian Against The World (Stats analysis)

Lucas Leiva, the player Liverpool fans love, and others love to hate. Recently though, the unBrazilian Brazilian has become a bit of a legend to Liverpool fans, and has become a pivotal part of Liverpool’s midfield.

When Rafa Benitez signed £5 million rated Lucas in the summer of 2007, he was known more as an attacking midfielder. Sure enough Lucas soon became the first Brazilian to score a goal for Liverpool. In his second season Lucas became increasingly unpopular and found it hard competing with Liverpool heroes such as Steven Gerrard, Xabi Alonso and Javier Mascherano.

Fast forward two years and Lucas has become one of the first names on the team sheet and is one of the best defensive, or holding, midfielders in not just the Premier League but also the world. This is largely due to Rafa Benitez overseeing his transition from attacking to defensive midfielder. The 2010/11 season was by far the best Lucas has had in a Liverpool short and the fans acknowledged this by voting him as the Standard Chartered Player of the Season. Lucas also had the most tackles of any player in any of the top four European leagues for the 10/11 season.

6 Guns, the 6 best out of the top 8.

To see just how good Lucas is, we decide to compare him to 7 other Premier League players who play a similar role to him in the midfield. The 7 we chose are John Obi Mikel from Chelsea, Alexandre Song from Arsenal, Michael Carrick for Manchester United, Scotty Parker for Tottenham, Cheick Tioté for Newcastle, Nigel De Jong for Manchester City and Karl Henry from Wolves for good measure. These players offer us a nice spread across the Premier League log. For this article I’ll look at the stats for the 2011/12 season so far.

The stats (does not include gameweek 12) for the 8 holding mids of the Premier League.

Stats for the 8 best PL holding mids

So right off the bat you can see that most of them have started eight games or more this season so far except for Carrick and De Jong. This is most likely down to Manchester City having no need for De Jong is their superstar midfield and Alex Ferguson opting for youth rather than experience in his squad. For this reason they’ll be mostly ignored in their comparison and mostly used for perspective on stats for single games.

Newcastle’s Tioté has the most clean sheets with four in their brilliant unbeaten run. Lucas and Song come into a joint second with three clean sheets for Liverpool and Arsenal respectively. Behind them are Henry and Mikel with two a piece in 12 and 8 games respectively. Parker managed 1 clean sheet in eight starts and Carrick got one in his only start of the season. Bottom of the pile is De Jong who hasn’t achieved a clean sheets in three attempts.

Next we’ll look at their passing stats and how creative these midfielders are for their teams.
If we look at chances created, we’ll see that Song comes out on top with 13. The important thing in this statistic is that with Arsenal’s playing style, chances are created from all positions. Lucas comes in second with 10 chances; this will also speaks loads to how much we’ve changed into a squad geared for creating chances and scoring. Behind them are Mikel and Henry with 7, Parker with 6 and Tioté with 5. As I’ve said before, Carrick and De Jong’s stats are null and void in this comparison as it would skew the results.

Passes attempted has Mikel at the top with 643 passes and achieving a 92% completion rate. Lucas is in second place again with 569 attempted passes but his completion rate is a bit lower at 85%. Song comes in third with 559 attempted passes and achieves the same completion rate as Lucas; 85%. Karl Henry managed to get 86% of his 531 passes on target, earning him fourth place. Closely behind Henry is Tioté with 521 passes and an 82% pass completion percentage. With 491 passes and a 90% completion percentage is Scott Parker. I’ll just reiterate this round of results is based on Total attempted passes.

Ok now for the most important part for a defensive midfielder; defence. We’ll now look at two defensive charts. The first one is a line chart which compares Ground 50-50s won, successful tackles, loss of possession and fouls conceded. Then we’ll look at a pie chart detailing how many minutes each player manages before losing possession. Side-note: Carrick and De Jong left out again for reasons explained before.

Let’s look at the first chart:

Defensive stats compared

Firstly you’ll notice that most of Lucas’ stats sit a bit higher up that the rest, except for loss of possession and fouls conceded. If you think about it, those two stats are really ones we’ll want Lucas’ stats to be lower than the rest. Also, this chart is not based on the % of each stat but rather by how many tackles, 50-50′s the player won.

Let’s start off with ground 50-50s; clearly Lucas is the best in the league at 50-50 challenges on the ground by a good country mile. Lucas managed to win 60% of his 138 50-50 challenges which is quite a feat. Only players that get close are Parker and Tioté with Parker getting 57% of his 110 50-50s right and Tioté winning 42% of his 149 50-50s. Karl Henry is by far the worst with 50-50s, only attempting 76 of them and only winning 57% of them. Mikel isn’t far off the bottom though; he managed to win 58% of his 89 50-50s. Song tries more 50-50s, 103 of them, but only wins 50% of them.

The best tackler in the league? You guessed it; Lucas. Now his successful tackle percentage may not reflect that fact but if you take into account of tackles attempted and the amount won, then weigh it up against the rest you’ll see that he does it best with 40+ successful tackles in 10 games, as opposed to Karl Henry who has started more games than Lucas but hasn’t even managed 10 successful tackles. Indeed Henry averages a tackle attempt a game. To put that in perspective, Carrick started one game and already managed 12 attempted tackles.

Now on to fouls conceded. For me this is probably one of Lucas’ only weak points. That said, in perspective with the other players, he isn’t actually that bad. In this respect Scott Parker has conceded the least amount of fouls. Worst is Alex Song, who has been a bit of a naughty boy, but so has most of the Arsenal squad.

This brings us to loss of possession. Now brace yourselves ‘cause this is something quite special. Lucas has lost possession only three, yes 3, times in 10 league games. Now again to put this into perspective, Carrick started one match and lost possession as many times as Lucas. Mikel and Song are the closest to him with 8 and 9 respectively. Next up is Karl Henry with 11, Parker with 12 and Tioté with 15.

Let’s take a look now at the pie chart detailing the amount of minutes per loss of possession these players are averaging.

Minutes per Loss of Possession

Well the chart really speaks for itself if you look at the amount of minutes Lucas is averaging per loss of possession. The closest to him is Karl Henry with 95.2 minutes per loss of possession, which means there are 193.1 minutes between Lucas’ average and the next best average, quite spectacular to be honest. Mikel is third best with 92.2 minutes per possession loss. 3.8 minutes behind him is Song, who is averaging 88.4 minutes before losing possession. Parker manages to keep the ball for 59.2 and last but not least is Tioté who can only manage 54 minutes, without giving the ball away, in 9 games.

As Liverpool fans we don’t need to be told that Lucas is the best holding midfielder in the league, heck we believe he’s the best in the world. For others though, a bit of proof will go a long way to convince his critics, and I think we’ve seen in this article that Lucas really is a world class midfielder that offers a lot going forward and even more in defence. Only question now is; how long before Lucas gets his own Kop song? He surely deserves it after the stick he’s had to live through in his early Liverpool career. Lucas, Lucas LEIVA!

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About the Author

Chris Vermeulen
Big Liverpool fan from Cape Town, South Africa. Currently studying journalism and enjoying the chance to write about LFC.

57 Comments

  1. Jevon

    November 21, 2011 at 8:58 pm

    To Queens “we will rock you”

    Buddy youre a Redman, hardman,
    playing for our team,
    gonna be the best man one day,

    Youve got blood on your face,
    your tackling is great,
    Spraying through balls all over the place.

    Lucas, Lucas, Leiva!
    Lucas, Lucas, Leiva!

    • Eugene K

      November 22, 2011 at 10:22 am

      “Youve got blood on your face,
      your tackling is great,
      Spraying through balls all over the place.”

      Instead of “great”, how about “your tackling is “Ace”?
      Similar meaning, better rhyme =)

      YNWA!

      • Chris Vermeulen

        November 22, 2011 at 11:33 am

        and instead of ‘blood on your face’ it should be ‘mud on your face’

  2. Jevon

    November 21, 2011 at 8:59 pm

    with stamping and clapping….

    • osman

      November 21, 2011 at 9:08 pm

      i can already imagine the kop stampeding that out, the whole of anfield will shake with that.

      • AnfieldIndex

        November 21, 2011 at 9:12 pm

        I’d love for this song to hit off…

  3. Chris Vermeulen

    November 21, 2011 at 9:00 pm

    Haha yeah Jevon, that’s the one I had in mind.

    • AnfieldIndex

      November 21, 2011 at 9:07 pm

      That’s a great song and it’s a good article Chris. These comparisons are hard work aren’t they?

      • Chris Vermeulen

        November 21, 2011 at 9:11 pm

        Haha yeah they are, but I can’t remember my central mid one being this hard.

        • AnfieldIndex

          November 21, 2011 at 9:13 pm

          Maybe the graphs mate… LOL

          • Chris Vermeulen

            November 21, 2011 at 9:14 pm

            Haha they’re trickier than they look

  4. wd red

    November 21, 2011 at 9:28 pm

    great stats. I’d like to know how often he is fouled as I bet thats quite high

    • Chris Vermeulen

      November 21, 2011 at 9:55 pm

      wd he won 8 fouls this season so far, not as much as you’d expect, there are probably a few times where the ref didn’t see it as a foul though.

  5. Dubstevo

    November 21, 2011 at 9:59 pm

    Great article Chris, but 1 quick question. Maybe I’m missing something, but how does Karl Henry have 12 starts when the stats do not include game week 12? Stevo

    • Chris Vermeulen

      November 21, 2011 at 10:02 pm

      That’s a good point, I think the stats updated for the Saturday games and I got them on Sunday morning. They lost too Everton though so I don’t think it counts lol. Thanks for pointing it out.

      • Dubstevo

        November 21, 2011 at 10:20 pm

        Thanks for the update. I didn’t want to give anyone an excuse to rubbish the article. Well put together. Well done. Stevo

        • Chris Vermeulen

          November 21, 2011 at 10:43 pm

          No worries, criticism will only help me for future articles.

  6. Voland

    November 21, 2011 at 10:18 pm

    Well done Chris, I hope this will go some way to silence the so-called critics who fail to understand the immense contribution of Lucas Leiva to the team.

    • Chris Vermeulen

      November 21, 2011 at 10:20 pm

      Thank you very much. Yeah hopefully he will get some of the recognition he deserves from his critics.

  7. Kuks

    November 21, 2011 at 10:24 pm

    Well written :)
    Just a small criticism: Your first chart would have been a lot better if you made it as bar graphs as they would be easier for people to compare rather than line graphs.

    • Chris Vermeulen

      November 21, 2011 at 10:26 pm

      Thanks. Yeah you’re probably right, it is my first time using graphs in these articles so now I know better for next time.

      • AnfieldIndex

        November 21, 2011 at 10:32 pm

        Live and Learn… live and learn. I made the same mistakes mate… it’s all good. The second & third time you use graphs it will be much better!

        • Chris Vermeulen

          November 21, 2011 at 10:40 pm

          Yeah, just grateful for the comments, will help me a lot in the future

          • Ady

            November 22, 2011 at 3:06 am

            keep up the good work Chrissy boy. uve just made yourself a regular :)

  8. Livmad

    November 22, 2011 at 2:41 am

    Such a great player and top playmaker, very skillful and full of praise. Top european clubs are queuing for him this coming january transfer. Single-handedly won games for Liverpool everytime. With him around, Liverpool will top PL and UCL this season.

    • Ashfah Hussain

      November 22, 2011 at 6:50 am

      Lain macam bunyi.

  9. Pingback: Bellamy Knew He Wouldn’t Last With Rafa, and Other Tuesday Notes - The Offside - Liverpool blog

  10. Ashfah Hussain

    November 22, 2011 at 6:49 am

    What a joke!

    • Jamie

      November 22, 2011 at 7:37 am

      What’s a joke? Great article, keep up the good work

      • Chris Vermeulen

        November 22, 2011 at 7:45 am

        Haha I was still thinking about hot to reply to that, but thanks Jamie definitely will.

  11. Dan

    November 22, 2011 at 8:03 am

    The loss of possession stat seems borked, unless I’m missing something and “loss of possession” doesn’t mean loss of possession. It’d be wrong for all players if it did.

    How can players without 100% pass accuracy in most games average more than 90 minutes between losses of possession? If the stat is for “dispossession,” being shoved off the ball, it’d be clearer to call it that.

    • Chris Vermeulen

      November 22, 2011 at 8:22 am

      Hi Dan, first off I don’t think there are a hell of a lot of players out there who manage a 100% pass accuracy, and then the loss of possession stat is probably for dispossession but on EPLIndex stats it’s called loss of possession, so I just went with that ’cause there are a lot of stats to work through and it’s easy to get confused when you’re writing it up.

      Maybe Gags will take the change under consideration to change it at the source?

  12. Morton

    November 22, 2011 at 9:02 am

    Great article! Love the comparisons throughout and the graphs were a great visual aid.
    Just a thought but maybe you should have looked at Barry for Man City, as he seems to be their most defensive midfielder, in replacement for De Jong.
    Still a great article though.

    • Chris Vermeulen

      November 22, 2011 at 9:11 am

      Thanks, yeah we decided on De Jong because he plays in a more similar role to Lucas, firstly because ManCity don’t really have holding mids in their style of play and Barry is more of a almost box-to-box midfielder for them. I think when the De Jong does play he stays more defensive.

  13. ferryman

    November 22, 2011 at 9:42 am

    I´m trying to like Lucas but it´s difficult when he gives away 3 free kicks in dangerous position within the first few minutes in the game against the chavs.

    Chris didn´t mention that according to these stats, Lucas has the 2nd worst pass completion rate of them all with 85%. He has 60% ground win, 47% aerial win, 75% tackle success, 2.2 interceptions per game and 18 fouls conceded, which are all quite average in this group. Also, he´s dribbled past 11 times. Far more than Karl Henry (!) and Mikel.

  14. Deaththekid

    November 22, 2011 at 12:41 pm

    Chris, you are just confusing the readers including yourself with all these numbers. These stats do not prove anything. What these numbers prove is that lucas is not bad at intercepting and tackling. Thats all. Nothing suggesting him being a world class player. He never keeps the ball for long as he does not even know much in football besides tackling. So every time he intercepts a ball he just pass it immediately to someone else as he lacks any intelligence to do something worthy while in possession. This would explain the low number of defensive errors and loss of possession. You can`t make errors or lose possession if you have already passed the ball away ,right? His passes are nothing extraordinary: sideways, backwards or forward but to team mates a couple of meters away. He can`t cross a ball. He does not know how to dribble. He can`t score goals as his shots are poor, weak and lack any accuracy. He does not create any real chances for his team mates. All these suggest that he is an overrated average player whose skills are easily replacable and does not make him merit an automatic starting place in the team. All he brings to the table at the end of the day is a not bad defensive cover for the back 4. His game can be summarised in one line: “Take the ball and pass it fast to someone nearby before losing it” We don`t need that kind of player in our midfield, lets play him as a defender if he is so great at defending…

    • Ash

      November 22, 2011 at 2:19 pm

      You’re a nonce, keep spouting these myths to disparage a player who plays for the club you support. Passes backwards and sideways, blah blah blah, grow a brain you xxxxx. This same site dismissed that passes backwards and sideways myth. XXXXX like you, Redman and Ferryman will never learn. Does not create any chances? Yet he’s created 10 this season? How does that fxxxxxxx work.
      Go support Manure you stupid xxxx (edited by AI)

      • Deaththekid

        November 24, 2011 at 10:31 am

        Get off your high horse ash! Posting insults won`t make me take back what I said or change the club I support…lucas may be a good player for you and many other people but I just don`t think he is good enough. He may provide the added security of an additional man patrolling in front of the back four and intercepting balls and breaking up the opponents play but there is a price to pay for that. Its kind of similar to an “opportunity cost” in economics. This added security he provides to us means another player more creative is forced to play out of position or is benched. Henderson is a central midfielder with the 3rd most amount of chances created last season. But in order to accomodate lucas he is forced to play in the right where he can`t play that well. When gerrard will come back charlie adam may be forced to sit on the bench because of lucas. These two , adam and hendo were in the top ten of players with the most chances created in the epl last season. Benching them or playing them out of position to accomodate lucas will reduce our total number of chances created per match and hence our probability of scoring and winning. Try putting less insults, using your brain a little more for a change and writing some more facts or arguments we can debate on next time bro…

    • SMcCarthy

      November 22, 2011 at 2:43 pm

      Well done Chris – nice article mate.

      Whether Lucas is “world class” or not is a matter of opinion. In fact, the term “world class” is open to debate also. Chris is entitled to his opinion as are you. Football after all, is a game of opinions.

      We need to remember we are analysing the stats of a defensive midfielder here. A specialist position, and it is a type of position in the team that doesn’t get the plaudits it deserves. Just because Lucas doesn’t do a million step-overs a game, and play 60 yard Hollywood passes that split the opposition in half, doesn’t mean his position is any less important.

      A couple of things to note about your response: “he never keeps the ball for long” he doesn’t need to keep the ball for long, he’s a defensive midfielder, his job is to keep the ball, play a simple pass, and keep the game ticking over by keeping us in possession. The ball, and the retention of the ball is one of the most important things in football. Would we expect Mascherano, Busquets or Makelele when he was playing to hold onto the ball and dribble around a few players? No.

      “his passes are nothing extraordinary” again see my reply above. Makelele is the player who invented the defensive midfielder’s position. His passes were nothing extraordinary – he gave the ball to his midfield partner who was more creative than him. So does this make Malelele a bad player?

      “his shots are poor, weak and lack any accuracy” Again it is not Lucas’s job in the team to get forward and score goals. In fact, he will be given specific instructions by Kenny NOT to get forward, to stay put and provide a shield in front of the two central defenders. This also allows the two full backs to get forward, knowing Lucas can come across and cover for them. Lucas’s cover allows others to play. That is his essence. Xabi Alonso: considered a fantastic defensive midfielder (all though a different style of defensive midfielder) has scored a total of 35 goals over 13 seasons in his career. That’s only 2.6 goals per season and a goal every 13.2 games. Are his shots poor, weak and lack any accuracy? Is he a bad player because he’s only scored 2.6 goals per season? To note: Lucas has scored 14 goals in 7 seasons – 2 goals per season – hardly criminal compared to Alonso’s.

      “He doesn’t create any real chances for his team mates” again this is not his job in the team. By your rationale then, Luis Suarez is a terrible player because he can’t defend, can’t tackle or is poor defensively, Jaime Carragher is the worst player in history because he can’t shoot, can’t pass, doesn’t score goals and doesn’t hold onto the ball long enough. Hey that Messi – he can’t tackle, can’t head the ball and doesn’t know how to defend – brutal player.

      Your criteria for judging Lucas is not valid. Judge him on what he’s supposed to be good at as a defensive midfielder. You would judge Suarez on scoring goals and creating chances but not on defending and tackling. The same applies for Lucas. Not every player can do everything, if that was the case then we’d have 11 players on the field all shooting, dribbling and playing Hollywood passes all over the place. It’s not about individuals – it’s about a team – and how each component fits into that team determines whether or not as a unit that team can function well enough to be successful. To be more than the sum of it’s parts you might say.

      • AnfieldIndex

        November 22, 2011 at 3:22 pm

        Wow – now that is a response and how! Excellent response Stephen. Agree with all of it.

        • SMcCarthy

          November 22, 2011 at 3:46 pm

          Cheers mate. All the Lucas baiting that goes on is really uncalled for. The lad does a fantastic job for the team. He’s only young – get’s his head down, does his job and never complains. He has a first class attitude. Wasn’t he our player of the year last year as well? Some of our senior players could have done with some of his attitude and commitment last year that’s for sure. Unfortunately, I don’t think he can ever win with some people.

          People seem to forget that he came over and was asked to play a position that was alien to him. He was an attacking midfielder for Gremio. And look how he’s adapted. We should get behind him not complain about what he can’t do. What about what he can do.

      • Chris Vermeulen

        November 22, 2011 at 3:54 pm

        Thanks for the support Stephen, and as Gags said; excellent response. As you’d imagine I’d rather not get involved in such negativity.

      • Deaththekid

        November 22, 2011 at 4:39 pm

        I get your point. Then lets judge him purely on the defensive aspect of his game…

        Here is a list of the 15 best players in the league who have WON the most number of tackles last season.

        source:http://www.telegraph.co.uk/sport/football/rankings/4949054/Premier-League-Statistics.html

        1st Lucas 111
        2nd Vaughan 104
        3rd Parker 093
        4th Clichy 090
        5th Alcaraz 087
        6th Murphy 084
        7th Mulumbu 083
        8th Salgado 082
        9th Holden 081
        10th Kompany 080
        11th Song 079
        12th Diame 078
        13th Muamba 074
        14th De jong 072
        15th Coker 072

        Lucas is the one who won the most tackles. Now below is another list but this time it shows the number of tackles they LOST.

        1st lucas 61
        3rd Vaughan 37
        12th Parker 28
        41th Clichy 21
        2nd Alcaraz 42
        7th Murphy 33
        19th Mulumbu 25
        45th Salgado 21
        4th Holden 36
        50th+kompany 20(less than that maybe)
        20th Song 24
        9th Diame 30
        5th Muamba 34
        30th De jong 23
        10th Coker 30

        Again lucas top the list. He may have won more tackles than anyone but he also lost more than anyone else.

        Now lets do a little math with it…

        Assuming that
        Tackles won + Tackles lost = Total Tackles

        Then accuracy = tackles won / total tackles X 100

        Therefore lucas accuracy = 111 / 172 x 100
        = 64.5 %

        After doing the same math with all the 15 players above, here is the new ranking…

        1. Clichy 81.1%
        2. Kompany 80.0%
        3. Salgado 79.6%
        4. Parker 76.9%
        5. Mulumbu 76.9%
        6. Song 76.7%
        7. De jong 75.8%
        8. Vaughan 73.8%
        9. Diame 72.2%
        10. Murphy 71.8%
        11. Coker 70.6%
        12. Holden 69.2%
        13. Muamba 68.5%
        14. Alcraz 67.3%
        15. Lucas 64.5%

        Conclusion: Lucas was considered the best defensive midfielder in the league last season because he won the most tackles. However the untold truth was that he also lost more tackles than anyone else. He is in fact LEAST ACCURATE TACKLER although he outscored others in terms of quantity won.

        As for the suarez and messi comment you should try seeing things that way:

        Attackers need only attack most of the time. Whether they are good or bad at defense is irrelevant as you don`t need to defend when you play up, do you?

        Defenders job is primarily to defend . Again they don`t need to know how to attack since they will most of the time have to stay at the back, don`t they?

        However midfielder especially central midfielders occupy a crucial position in the team. They need to provide the link from the defense up to the strikers. They need to not only attack or help with the attack but also help in defense as well. Lucas game is too one sided, he can only defend.

        • AnfieldIndex

          November 23, 2011 at 6:00 pm

          Well all I can say is respect to you for coming back with some stats and a well reasoned argument.

        • SMcCarthy

          November 24, 2011 at 4:45 pm

          I take your point about the tackles, however, they are last years stats. Furthermore, he is being judged on the list with players like Kompany, Salgado, Clichy etc that aren’t actually midfielders. I think a fairer and more scientific comparison would be to put him up against other defensive midfielders. You said let’s judge him on a purely defensive point: that’s what the above excellent article has all ready done. And not just on one point, as opposed to your reply whereby you only judged Lucas on solely one aspect of his defensive game, tackles, from last year. The article all ready provides a complete stats run down of Lucas’s peers from this year. And they compare favourably to any other defensive midfielder on the table.

          Another point, tackles are just one aspect, and a very important one, of a defensive midfielders game. One of the most important attributes, and one which is not quantifiable is positioning, and I’d be hard pressed to find another defensive midfield player who has a better positional sense as Lucas. Tell me what is the point of having a defensive midfielder running up the pitch like a headless chicken and leaving no cover behind. You only have to look at the England performances over the last number of years with Lampard and Gerrard in the same team to see what happens when you ask an attacking midfielder to a defensive midfielders job.

          Attackers attack yes – but they also defend – but we don’t judge them on their defensive abilities.

          Defenders defend yes – but they also attack – well the modern full backs do – so we judge attacking (most full backs are these days) full backs on their role in the team – defending, crossing, dribbling and creating chances.

          Again it’s the same for Lucas – he is not just a midfielder – his is a specialised position – defensive midfielder – so if Kenny asks him to play the position of defensive midfielder then is it fair to judge him on the role of attacking midfielder? He’s never been asked to play that role for us – so how do we know he’s good or bad at it? He gets the ball from the defenders and plays it to a more attacking team-mate. Like most defensive midfielders.

          I think we both have different views of what a midfielders role is. As from your other comment above to Ash you are saying Lucas is taking the place of someone who is more creative like Henderson/Gerrard/Adam etc. Then by that rationale if Lucas is out of the team we would have a centre midfield pairing of possibly Henderson and Adam. I’m sorry but I have to completely disagree with that. A pairing of Henderson and Adam I dont think would have a chance against some of the more powerful midfields at the top clubs. Likewise I’d worry for a midfield pairing of Gerrard and Henderson. Its all well and good creating chances but who of those two are going to defend in front of the back four against a rampaging attacking of Silva/Nasri/Aguero/Dzeko against Man City. Add Yaya Toure and De Jong into that midfield and Henderson/Adam etc would be overrun. I’d put Lucas in there in a heartbeat though.

          “central midfielders occupy a crucial position in the team. They need to provide the link from the defense up to the strikers”. Attacking midfielders maybe. Busquets collects the ball from the back four & just gives it to Xavi or Iniesta. Mascherano when he played for us was terrible at forward passes – he done the same as Busquets for us. Are you saying these 2 players should have been swapped for more forward thinking players?

          Maybe it’s not Lucas you have the problem with but its the defensive midfielders position you dont like? However, that’s the way the game is played these days. In an ideal world we’d all have brilliant central midfield players who can do absolutely everything. But teams dont play like that. Most play 2 central midfielders – one who can attack and can’t defend much – and one who can defend but can’t attack much. In my opinion centre midfield is broken up into 2 distinct and completely different positions. Attacking midfielder and defensive midfielder. It’s like chalk and cheese. For me comparing these 2 positions is like judging a defender against a striker in the chances created department. It’s an unfair comparison. It would seem you feel they are the one position. This is where we have to respectively agree to disagree.

          • Deaththekid

            November 26, 2011 at 6:59 am

            I`m glad to be discussing football matters with you bro.I think you raised some pretty good arguments there: “Maybe it’s not Lucas you have the problem with but its the defensive midfielders position you dont like?” I have to admit you are spot on here. I never looked at things that way. I still believe deep inside that this is a position we don`t need but I guess you are right, times have changed and whether I want it or not, this position is gaining more and more tactical significance nowadays. I also get your point about one central midfield having to do more offensive work and the other having to do more of a defensive work. Maybe its a good strategy if you are a newly promoted team and that you just want to limit the damage when you play against a top 4 side but don`t you think its a negative way of playing for a team like liverpool? Isn`t it kinda trying to play it safe by having an additional player covering the back 4? As the saying goes “the best defense is a good offense”, right? If we keep attacking without giving them the time to breathe, I believe they will be more preoccupied in defending than in trying to attack. Anyway if we need a defensive midfield then so be it but I would still prefer a better all round player to occupy this place. Someone in the mold of gerrard or alonso although I know these kind of players are not easy to find. But with money and a good scouting nothing is impossible, and we`ve got both now.

      • GMan

        November 22, 2011 at 5:17 pm

        I remember when he came to Liverpool as an attacking midfielder. He was unlucky to come into the team when we had some great midfielders. On top of that Benitez never played him in his preferred position. I think we have to all take our hats off to Lucas and the way he has adapted his play. You have to remember he captained the Brazil U20 team. He had serious credentials when he came to us. He knows how to handle pressure. He plays well in big games and doesn’t really make mistakes. I for one am glad he stayed with us. He will get serious offers come the end of the season from other clubs. After the stick he took from fans and the press, him still being here shows his commitment to the cause. Benitez also deserves credit, he always played him even when fans and media berated him.

        Lucas Leiva I salute you.

        YNWA

  15. Redman

    November 22, 2011 at 1:13 pm

    Totally agree with deaththekid, just because he has so called brilliant stats he’s a great player… I don’t think so! We need more from a player in our midfield, scott Parker is a far better player for one! Lucas has gone from very poor to average and would not get in any of the top 5 clubs midfields!

    • BEngel

      November 23, 2011 at 5:32 am

      Parker a much better player?? The opinion of someone who doesn’t really watch a great deal of football and chooses to recycle what they hear on sky sports news, or Harry Redknapp tv as it is fast becoming.

    • 4pool

      December 14, 2011 at 9:35 pm

      Hmmm. Parker or Lucas. And Lucas wouldn’t get into any of the other top 5 clubs.

      Let me see. Which midfielder starts for Brazils national side playing 20 matches and captained the U23′s and U20′s for them by age 24 and which has made 10 total appearances for England by age 31.

      I think Lucas would make a lot of teams midfields and probably be their Captain to boot.

  16. Pablo

    November 22, 2011 at 1:22 pm

    “This is largely due to Rafa Benitez overseeing his transition from attacking to defensive midfielder.”

    I love Rafa (great job btw picking up LL for 5m) but the man himself would admit that this is nonsense. Rather, its largely due to Lucas’ natural talent and extreme dedication to making it in the PL. More than just a class player, he is clearly blessed with tremendous mental strength. Even when he was getting stick from all and sundry, the great thing about this lad is that he never attempted to hide – he just got on with it regardless. Great as he is now, its frightening to think how good he will be in a couple of seasons…

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  18. bri5x

    November 22, 2011 at 7:04 pm

    Heard a great song for lucas coming back from old trafford on the coach 2 seasons ago.to the song “ love is in the air”.very similar to the suarez song.no lyrics just der der der building up to the chorus then “lucas leiva der,der,der,der,der,lucas leivaaaa” sounds awsome when repeated over and over.hope my silly attempt at explaining it does the trick

  19. Markus

    November 22, 2011 at 7:14 pm

    “Standard Chartered Player of the Season” … omg

  20. TedzReds

    November 23, 2011 at 4:27 am

    Chris, great writing. I always believe that a holding midfield is essential to our success as a football club. We had Mascherano who people gave him more credit because he is more combative, eccentric and express himself on the field. Lucas on the contrary is calmer, low profiled and just do the job type of player. Nevertheless, his contribution to Liverpool is amazing. We are not the same team without him. Intercepting important passes to our defence area and covering for both our defenders is in my opinion his greatest strength. He is an excellent tackle and made Adam’s and Gerrard’s life as attacking midfield musch easier. So I have no doubt about his contribution and totally agree with you, that he’ll be a great player and excellent servant to our great club. Two thumbs up for your article. Cheers from Indonesia. YNWA

  21. kopstar

    November 23, 2011 at 5:06 am

    He already has a song and has done for a couple of years sung by those that have always had faith in him coming through.

    To the tune of Love is in the air.

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