Liverpool’s central midfield has been a point of concern for me so far this season and I would like to share my thoughts with you and hear what you think. I know I will upset a few people with my line of thinking but here it goes:
Liverpool have been playing Lucas, Gerrard and Henderson in tandem for large parts of the season. We missed Lucas last season due to injury but now that we have him back, something is not quite the same. Could it be because Lucas himself is not the same player he was before his injury or is Gerrard the player to blame?
I feel it is the later in my opinion. Lucas has been played next to Gerrard in our midfield with the younger and more energetic Jordan Henderson being asked to push ahead of those two. Gerrard is clearly not the same player he was say five years ago and that is expected due to age, but now with Gerrard having lost his legs he is not helping Lucas out as much as he is supposed to. When Gerrard does decide to go forward, he is too slow in getting back and thus exposing Lucas to do all the midfield battles by himself.
If you had Henderson rather playing alongside Lucas then I think we would have a better combination as Henderson still has the legs to go from box to box. I feel it is unfair that some fans are blaming Lucas for not playing well this season, when in fact the blame should be on Gerrard; Captain Fantastic simply has to start producing more next to Lucas or else he must be pushed further forward up the field.
Lucas has recently been recalled back into the Brazil national squad for their upcoming friendlies and that is testament of the work he has put in. Lucas will have to compete against the likes of Ramires, Paulinho and Luis Gustavo to get into that Brazilian side but there is no doubting that he is capable of doing so.
So where to now for Lucas and the setup of the Liverpool midfield? I can not see Rodgers dropping Gerrard anytime soon so it is a question of whether Rodgers will continue deploying Gerrard alongside Lucas or bring in Henderson to play alongside Lucas. Another option may be to bring in Joe Allen to help Lucas in the middle of the park and then give Gerrard or Henderson more freedom.
My next biggest fear is if Lucas gets injured again. Rodgers did not go out and buy a defensive midfielder this summer and thus we have no like for like replacement for Lucas. Let us hope Lucas remains fit until the January transfer window as I am sure Rodgers is going to strengthen our central midfield then.