Brendan Rodgers must bring Lucas Leiva in from the cold on a full time basis after the midfielder’s return to the starting XI has coincided with Liverpool’s best run of results all season.
As Steven Gerrard’s role as a moonlighting defensive midfielder becomes more and more untenable, the tough-tackling Brazilian pivote’s performances have shown his manager the way forward.
Against Leicester he showed he has every aspect of playing such a role covered, while suggestions that he lacks the attacking nous to compliment his teammates in that regard are wide of the mark.
Not only did he make twice as many tackles as any other man on the park (as well as four interceptions, six clearances and a blocked shot), but he made his side tick with a game-high 60 passes.
A glance at Liverpool’s results for the matches in which he has featured this season hint at his importance in preventing wins becoming draws and draws becoming losses.
The Anfield club have won 60 per cent of their clashes in which Lucas has either started or entered the fray, losing only twice in that ten-game sample.
Compared to the 11 matches in which he hasn’t been called upon it’s a decent yield, with that tranche of fixtures yielding only two wins and as many draws.
There will be those that suggest that Lucas is too rudimental a player to contribute to the kind of quicksilver football that carried Liverpool to within a whisker of the tile last term.
However, it’s worth remembering he only departed the first team due to knee ligament damage in 2013/14 having started all bar four league games up until January 12.
The Anfield club play Sunderland next and with the Lucas in the line-up prospects of them landing the 7/5 about a home win to nil are all the more promising.
Considering Rodgers’ side are just 53/100 to prevail by any means, the shutout success looks a far more palatable punt – especially against a side who have failed to net in four of their last five road games.