Liverpool Club Focus – Lucas inspires impressive Reds

Liverpool extended their unbeaten run in the Premier League to eight games following a well-deserved 1-1 draw against table-toppers Manchester City. The Anfield outfit, who collected maximum points from Stamford Bridge last weekend, created enough chances to record a convincing win over Roberto Mancini’s in-form side, but goalkeeper Joe Hart made some phenomenal saves to earn City a point.

The result meant that the Reds have collected just 11 points from a possible 21 at Anfield so far this term, which will concern manager Kenny Dalglish. But claiming a respectable draw against a side which had previously scored 43 league goals this season will give Liverpool belief and confidence ahead of their upcoming fixtures.

Dalglish’s top-four hopefuls will face Fulham, QPR, Aston Villa, Wigan, Blackburn and Newcastle before the year is out and that run of winnable games will give the Reds a chance to catch up to teams such as Chelsea, Newcastle and Tottenham, who are currently ahead of them in the table. The three home games will also hand Liverpool an opportunity to turn their form around at Anfield.

One man who played a significant role for the Merseysiders against City, and will continue to do so for the remainder of the season, is Brazilian midfield general Lucas Leiva. The former Gremio star, who faced much criticism during his first few years in England, has been a key player for Liverpool over the last couple of seasons. In fact, the tough-tackling Lucas is now one of the first names on the team-sheet. Summer signings Charlie Adam and Jose Enrique are the only outfield players to have racked up more minutes than Lucas in the Premier League so far this campaign.

Lucas was exceptional in the holding role on Sunday evening. The Brazilian kept the midfield ticking over by completing 92% of his 75 attempted passes and he also impressed by how often he broke up an opposition attack. The 24-year-old made six interceptions against City and he also made 11 successful tackles – more than any other player on the pitch. Lucas has made more tackles, interceptions and passes than any of his team-mates this season.

Given how influential Lucas has been for Liverpool this term, Dalglish could select him to play at Stamford Bridge in the Carling Cup quarter-final clash this week. The manager had previously hinted that he would select a younger team for the game, but with the Reds in good form and in the hunt for a trophy, the Scot is likely to call upon a number of his experienced stars to help carry the Merseysiders into the next round.

Although getting back into the top-four is a bigger priority, Dalglish will undoubtedly be desperate to guide Liverpool to what would be their first trophy since 2006. But in order to do that, the Reds will first have to get past Chelsea and then possibly the likes of Manchester United and Arsenal. Given Liverpool’s recent good form against the top sides, reaching Wembley remains a real possibility.

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