While Fernando Torres grabs all the headlines following his two goals in the victory over Chelsea, ask Liverpool fans who their man of the match was on Sunday and the unanimous vote would be a much less glamorous name.
That name would be Lucas Leiva.
Yes, Lucas Leiva, the much maligned midfielder.
The same Lucas Leiva who has grown into a hard-working, tough-tackling midfielder who has been arguably Liverpool’s most improved and most consistent performer over the past 18 months. Sunday’s performance was a coming of age for the Brazilian.
I wrote in the match report that the midfield of Lucas and Steven Gerrard resembled some of the old Mascherano-Alonso partnership at times on Sunday. Lucas broke up play, hassled and harassed, not allowing Chelsea‘s midfield any time on the ball. Allowing Gerrard the time and space to spray passes out wide. Time and again in the second half it was Lucas who put a foot in just when it was needed.
Take a look at our tackling stats from midfield:
[table id=43 /]
Lucas made more tackles than anyone else on the pitch – and 12 more than his Chelsea counterpart John Obi Mikel (who made just 2, 1 successful).
His pass completion of 89% is also impressive. He only made 27 passes, while Gerrard made 43, thus showing the destructive – creative combination the two of them deployed so effectively.
Video Compilation – Lucas vs Chelsea credit to Youtube user ElAlonso
On Saturday night I sent a ‘Tweet’ to @LucasLeiva87 (the real Lucas, not the admittedly funny parody account), wishing him the best of luck for Sunday. Sadly, some arrogant supposed Liverpool supporter replied to suggest that we should instead be telling him to “p**s off back to Brazil”. This enraged me, how can anyone call themselves a Red with such an attitude is disgusting. Especially when the player himself can see those comments. Not even Christian Poulsen deserves such derision.
I’ve always had a lot of sympathy for Lucas. Signed from Gremio as a 20 year-old attacking midfielder, he entered a completely new world – different culture, both on and off the pitch – and was asked to play a role he wasn’t familiar with. As a youngster in a foreign country. As much as he may have struggled, you could never say he didn’t give 100%, so criticism should always have been with a pretext.
He rolled his sleeves up, said all the right things and slowly but surely has shown those critics he is fit enough to wear the Liverbird on his chest. Consistency has arrived to his game and he deserves praise for it.
So much so that now he would be one of the first names on my teamsheet.
He seems like a bloody nice guy to boot. After the game he tweeted “Anfield was amazing today, thanks all the Reds supporters. This victory will give the team a lot of confidence to keep going. Well done reds”.
Well done Lucas lad, you showed many a critic, especially the Twitter idiot. Keep proving ’em wrong and real supporters will keep backing you.
Lucas Leiva is boss.