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Arsenal vs. Liverpool: Lucas Leiva back in contention for midfield role

After missing out on Brendan Rodgers’ squad for the first two games of the season, Lucas Leiva could return against Arsenal, reports claim.

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Monday, April 13, 2015: Liverpool's Lucas Leiva applauds the supporters after the Premier League match against Newcastle United at Anfield. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Lucas Leiva could be handed a role in Liverpool’s Monday night clash with top-four rivals Arsenal, reports claim.

James Pearce of the Liverpool Echo suggests that, following injury to Jordan Henderson, the Brazilian is “set to earn a recall to the Liverpool squad.”

This is despite being omitted from Brendan Rodgers’ match-day squad for the opening two games of the season.

Lucas has been heavily linked with a move away from Merseyside—including a loan switch to Besiktas—but this situation may change his stance.

“Henderson’s foot injury, which is expected to rule the captain out of the showdown in the capital, has opened the door for Lucas to fight his way back into Rodgers’ plans,” Pearce continues.

“Besiktas made an approach last week to take the 28-year-old on an initial season-long loan but Liverpool have informed the Turkish outfit they are currently unwilling to sanction a deal.

“The Reds would be prepared to listen to permanent offers for Lucas prior to the transfer deadline on September 1 but are unlikely to allow the club’s longest-serving player to leave on loan.”

Lucas is one of Liverpool’s longest-serving players, after joining from Gremio in a deal worth £5 million in 2005.

The 28-year-old was one of Rodgers’ reported options for this season’s vice-captaincy, owing to his loyalty, experience and dressing-room presence.

“Lucas still harbours hopes of staying put and regaining his place in Rodgers’ side and Henderson’s absence could present him with that opportunity,” Pearce explained.

“Whether he will start at the Emirates or be among the substitutes is unclear.”

STOKE-ON-TRENT, ENGLAND - Sunday, August 9, 2015: Liverpool's substitutes Emre Can and Roberto Firmino warm-up before the Premier League match against Stoke City at the Britannia Stadium. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Emre Can is most likely to take Henderson’s place in the Liverpool midfield on Monday night, having replaced the captain when he was forced off the field against AFC Bournemouth.

But Lucas is Liverpool’s only specialist defensive midfielder, and his abilities may be required to stifled the playmaking of Mesut Ozil in north London.

West Ham United’s 16-year-old midfielder Reece Oxford highlighted the benefits of such an approach on the opening day of the season.

Also in contention for a starting role at the Emirates Stadium is £29 million forward Roberto Firmino.

Pearce suggests that Firmino could take the place of Jordon Ibe or Adam Lallana.

Including Lucas and Firmino would represented a much-changed midfield setup, but with Rodgers looking to “dominate the space” on Monday night, a different approach may be necessary.

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