Liverpool’s Record With and Without Lucas

After Lucas Leiva made a very impressive eight tackles, four interceptions and twelve ball recoveries in Liverpool’s 3-1 win at Leicester City, there was lots of online chatter from Kopites suggesting that the Brazilian might finally be returning to something like his best form, which occurred prior to his anterior cruciate ligament injury in 2011.

Tweets like this one were soon doing the rounds after the match:

I’m always wary of reading too much into with/without stats, as there are so many other factors to consider, and the above tweet only covers this season so is a very small sample. Looking at Liverpool’s league form since 2009/10 though, it’s impossible to deny that the team has performed a lot better on the whole when Lucas has played.

I chose Rafa Benitez’ final season as my starting point for this comparison, as it was the first year where Lucas started more than thirteen league games, and so could be said to be an established component of the Liverpool first team.

Here are the figures, and remember they are for the league only.

With Without Lucas

The main thing to notice is that the team earns 0.3 points per game (or eleven across a full season) more when Lucas plays.

It’s surprising to see that there is a greater improvement up front than at the back though, as I would’ve expected the reverse to be true when you consider that Lucas has been the club’s only defensive midfielder for most of this timeframe. Perhaps his team-mates feel they have more freedom to attack when they have Lucas behind them, and they don’t have to worry about tracking back quite so much?

As the above period includes the managerial talents of Benitez, Hodgson and Dalglish, I thought I’d finish with a look at the Rodgers era specifically.

With Without Lucas RODGERS

I didn’t expect to see that Liverpool’s improvement with Lucas would be greater for the Rodgers era than for the last five years as a whole, not least as he played in all six of the Reds’ defeats in 2013/14. But as you can see, that is indeed the case.

If I had more time, I’d look into how many shots Liverpool take and allow with and without Lucas, but I can at least point you in the direction of this site that does have this data for Reds’ players this season (though not including Lucas at present):

As rumours continue to circulate that Lucas has been told he is allowed to leave in January, it seems fair to say that his recent form, plus the figures here, suggest that this might be a mistake on Brendan Rodgers’ part.

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5 thoughts on “Liverpool’s Record With and Without Lucas

  1. I am still turning my head in all directions in disbelieve. Apart of that great run before his injury I think he failed to meet the expectations.

    What isn’t a surprise for me is that the part of defending for which he is responsible is of less improvement. He gives away way too many dangerous fouls in the area outside the GK area. Never feels strong enough. On the other hand his presence allows the likes of Steve to go forward and give more for the attacking options. Not for he is always doing an amazing job back there but simply because if position changed.

    • I agree he seems to give away fouls in dangerous areas, but in terms of fouls/tackles ratio, he’s not too bad

      Though in his position, the location of the foul can be more important than the volume of them.

    • A biased, unfair and inaccurate comment. Where do you expect the most withdrawn, most defensive midfielder to “give away” (have called on him) free kicks, genius? Even Gerrard, when he was deployed as the most withdrawn lone central midfielder committed fouls in the same areas.

      • Wow a triple negative comment. I feel like Lucas misjudging an opponent on the edge of the box.

        I don’t expect any thing from him. A better player doesn’t make those fouls so often, either he does them earlier or he just doesn’t. Alonso didn’t. The Argentinian whose name I don’t like to mention didn’t. So what if even Steve did sometimes foul there? 1st – of course any player does sometimes, it is a question of when and how often. 2nd It’s not Steven position. With all due respect. And the ball he rescued after losing just last game, inside the box was something leading to a penalty if Lucas was to do it.

        Then again, I did say I am in disbelieve. I mean, I am not a native English speaker maybe I am wrong to assume it can be understood as “while I consider Lucas abilities to be not good enough for a player in this position for the club, I do respect the Info the owner of this blog has given – hence – I am in disbelieve”

        But hey
        I am biased (towards what? My own ideas?), unfair (to whom? Lucas is reading here? Man – I love you!!! You are not good enough but when I saw you get injured I almost cried. Sorry that it has nothing to do with what you can give to the team as an opener) and inaccurate (just ? – “I think he failed to meet the expectations.” – I will repeat the important words – I – Think – I – Think – how can someone think inaccurately?)

  2. not that I have changed my mind about his abilities at this stage of his career but Lucas recent form contributes much to the team stability. Can only imagine what Alonso could have been doing there.

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