Lucas – He doesn’t pass it forward, does he?

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The longest myth going about Lucas, has been that he only plays the simple pass, and this is mainly sideways, or  back-wards. This brief post is aimed to demonstrate he really doesn’t, and I have taken 3 randomly selected games from this season which Lucas featured in to help explain.

I will show his passing statistics for those games (from Opta AnfieldIndex stats), as well as the chalk boards (from The Guardian).

The 3 games were totally selected at random. But it is nice to have a mix of home/away and wins/losses. Any percentages in brackets (xx%) are the percentage of passes that were forward/backwards/sideways/attacking half. These percentages are not pass completion.

Note: The Opta Stats and Chalkboard passes don’t always match up, but they are 99% the same. Also, the Chalk-Boards are embedded (not image files) so may take a few moments to load up).


V Blackburn Rovers (H) – 24/10/2011

Pass completion – 85%
Total passes – 55
Total forward – 40 (73% of passes)
Total backwards – 3 (5%)
Total sideways – 12 (22%)
Attacking half passes – 39 (70%)


Of the randomly selected matches, without doubt his best “attacking” performance. A large percentage of his passes were in the attacking half, and nearly 3/4’s were forwards. This game wont alone wont dispel the myth, but it isn’t a bad start.


by Guardian Chalkboards



V Everton (H) – 16/01/2011

Pass completion – 84%
Total passes – 50
Total forward – 25 (50%)
Total backwards – 9 (18%)
Total sideways – 18 (36%)
Attacking half passes – 24 (48%)


Not quiet as “attacking” as it was against Blackburn (a game we won), but in a Derby, it is a very, very different game. We drew 2-2 this time. Lucas was clearly, much deeper (look where his passes were being made from in the main) when compared with above. This is likely why less of his passes were not forwards. But still, half of them were, and half of them (nearly) were in the attacking half.


by Guardian Chalkboards



V West Ham (A) – 27/02/2011

Pass completion – 85%
Total passes – 67
Total forward – 46 (69%)
Total backwards – 5 (7%)
Total sideways – 16 (24%)
Attacking half passes – 34(50%)


A game which we lost, but Lucas still maintained his excellent pass completion again. Also, most of his passes were forward, yet again, dispelling the myth. Another interesting random stat for you, he never was caught in possession of the ball. The whole game. (So, the only time he surrendered possession, was with one of his uncompleted passes. A rarity).


by Guardian Chalkboards


So, there you have it…

Lucas doesn’t just pass it side-ways. He retains ball possession brilliantly, he is constantly looking for the forward pass, and while now seen as a “defensive” midfielder, a lot of his work can come in the attacking half.

His role in the team will be key going forward. No, he isn’t there to unlock a defence with a killer pass, but he does  constantly keep the ball moving, and rarely gives it away. If he can find Gerrard, Mereiles, Johnson, Kelly, or whoever, he can then allow them to do what they do. If the ball is moving constantly (and successfully), it makes it a lot easier for the creative players.

So Lucas doesn’t just pass it sideways and backwards, does he.


This will be updated for the full season to date, when the AnfieldIndex update comes with accumulative statistics, and hopefully the “full season stats” will show similar to what I have shown here. And if you want to investigate yourselves, check the Guardian Chalkboards out.

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  1. I mean I have come across some articles on other sites (not giving any names) which pretend to be stat-based and just overload the article with every stat they can lay their hands on. Here the stats are used to primarily to back Neal’s argument which is what I liked.

  2. Thanks for the comments guys. It seems even Lucas himself has read it (he sent a tweet to @AnfieldIndex saying “nice one!!”

  3. The “problem” with Lucas is not where he passes the ball, it is what he does AFTER the pass. He almost never moves forward, or more actually move at all! So after the pass, he is not playable, not in a position to get the ball back. So in turn he really does not help his teammates, and his creative contributions onwards to an established defense is nonexisting. The classic Liverpool “pass and run” does not apply, he passes… And then… nothing! That is why Liverpool will never win the leage, when he is considered “good enough”. I really think he is a defensive brilliant player, but this alone does not win the title!

  4. That is absolute rubbish, Hennig. Complete and utter tosh.

    1. Lucas’ movement is fantastic and one of the best thing about him is that he is ALWAYS available for a pass.

    2. He is a DEFENSIVE midfielder, he stays further back whilst the other players bomb on. Name one a top team who don’t have a player like this in their team. Can’t? That’s because there isn’t one.

    Our pass and move game suffers when Lucas doesn’t play because he acts as a pivot and a player who always moves the ball on. If there was no player in his position then we’d be playing in straight lines.

    I’m genuinely flabbergasted by your comment and hope it is some sort of a wind-up because I thought fans with your opinion had disappeared by now.

    • Totally agree with Matt on this one. Lucas has been excellent for a long time now and one of the reasons of creating this blog earlier this year in March was to try and identify the areas where Lucas is excellent and is excelling. It’s a known fact that Lucas has won or at least attempted the most tackles in the league so far this season and was also ahead last season.

      In terms of passing he’s just fine, in fact you can now see confidence in him that he lacked a few years ago. No longer is he afraid of making that long pass in the fear that fans will get on his back. Instead Lucas now goes for it and if he gives it away he’ll work extremely hard to win it back and the fans know this now which is why none of them ever criticise him, well until I read the comment here.

  5. Henning, give us a specific example of when this happened. I am a season ticket holder at Anfield and one of the most impressive things about Lucas is how good his movement is around the central midfield area when he does not have the ball. I would go as far as to say that the exact opposite of your observation is true.

    Great post Neal. Very jealous of the Lucas comment.


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