Liverpool defensive midfielder Lucas Leiva was imperious as his side beat top four rivals West Ham United 2-0 at Anfield.
The Reds entered the match keen to keep up the pressure on the top four and maintain their impressive recent run of form.
After a tense first half, Philippe Coutinho and Raheem Sterling combined to break the deadlock before Daniel Sturridge marked his return from injury with the Reds’ second goal of the afternoon.
The England international striker will rightfully receive the plaudits for an impressive comeback cameo, yet it was Brazilian ace Lucas Leiva who gave the Merseysiders the platform to assert their domination.
|Touches||Accurate Passes||Tackles Won||Effective Clearances||Ball Recoveries||Fouls||Mins Played|
As per the table provided by Opta Stats, the former Gremio midfielder was heavily involved in possession and protected the defence with calmness and authority.
Over the 90 minutes, he demanded the ball and racked up a whopping 103 touches and 73 accurate passes – the most by any player on the pitch.
His ability to marshal the middle third of the pitch and protect the defence was evident, illustrated by his six tackles, four clearances and five ball recoveries.
At the beginning of the campaign, the Reds looked slow, unbalanced and appeared laboured without the high pressing which served them so well last season.
It wasn’t any coincidence to notice that the Anfield outfit’s form has picked up dramatically since Leiva regained his place in the XI, demonstrating his importance to the team.
The victory means last season’s Premier League runners-up leapfrog the Hammers and move in to seventh spot, four points behind Southampton in fourth.