Lucas Leiva must start for Liverpool

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Liverpool's recent upturn in fortune has coincided with the reintroduction of their Brazilian play-breaker, Lucas Leiva.

The midfielder has been through it all since joining Liverpool from Gremio in 2007. His first couple of seasons saw him struggle to cement a first-team place and he also became somewhat a scapegoat for whenever his team played poorly as many believed he was too slow and cumbersome for the Premier League. 

He also missed most of the 2011-12 season through injury, just as he was finally starting to show the promise that led Rafael Benitez to bring him to Merseyside in the first place.

Lucas isn't a man who shirks a challenge, though. The holding midfielder isn't your 'typical Brazilian' and most certainly can 'do it on a cold Wednesday night in Stoke' - after all, that appears to be the key debate posed by Premier League fans when debating an oversees players' credentials to play in England.

He came back from injury stronger than ever and, in a complete turn around in fortunes, started to become noted as one of the best midfielders in his position.

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Lucas played a vital role in helping Brendan Rodgers' side to finish second place in the league last season, as well as another since departed South American, of course.

The midfielder isn't blessed with pace or skill but what he does do is read the game like no other. So many times he is two yards ahead of opponents through quick thinking alone. Lucas sees danger before it has developed and often cuts out potentially (probable) Skrtel and Lovren splitting through-balls.

Lucas: Liverpool's Matic

For me, Lucas is to Liverpool what Matic is to Chelsea - a lynchpin. The player that allows the more creative midfielders to go and do their thing and I believe that this has been more evident than ever in the last two games.

Since his reintroduction to the side Liverpool have looked much less porous than in previous encounters. Granted, they're far from the side that they were last season but I believe they are much better with him than without him.

Rodgers has also been able to deploy Steven Gerrard in a more advanced role which saw him put in a man-of-the-match performance away at Leicester, Tuesday night.

The Liverpool manager doesn't seem to know his best eleven since the loss of Luis Suarez to Barcelona and injuries to other key players including Daniel Sturridge.

Rodgers must stick with Lucas

I believe that it is vital that he sticks with Lucas if he wants his side to become hard to beat, even if it means letting go of the dream for his side won't be as scintillating as they were last season.

If Lucas isn't in the side for the trip to Sunderland on Saturday then I can only hope that his replacements selection is vindicated.

One thing is for certain and its that Liverpool fans love a no-nonsense player. A player who doesn't moan when he isn't selected and does a job when he is - just like Lucas, and unlike a certain pragmatic Italian striker.

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Nemanja Matic
Leiva Lucas
Premier League
Steven Gerrard
Brendan Rodgers

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