Lucas Leiva better than Nathaniel Clyne and Nemanja Matic in key defensive area

Liverpool's Lucas Leiva emerges as the Premier League's best player in this key defensive area.

Liverpool will be without the services of Lucas Leiva for their upcoming fixtures, after he sustained a thigh injury in the Reds' recent 0-0 draw with Everton. This injury saw the Brazilian miss the Reds' hotly contested clash with Tottenham at Anfield. The hosts were notably weaker in defense against Spurs; perhaps a direct consequence of his absence.

Lucas has been a key performer for the Merseyside outfit throughout their recent unbeaten streak; a period spanning nine league games. He has been outstanding since returning to the team as the holding-midfielder in Brendan Rodgers' new found 3-5-2 system, providing the perfect protection for the club's three-man defense.  

  PositionTeamAppearancesTackles per GameMinutes Played
Lucas Leiva MF Liverpool 14 4.07 1,006
Nathaniel Clyne DF Southampton 23 3.87 2,067
Nemanja Matic MF Chelsea 24 3.83 2,160
Pablo Zabaleta DF Man City 18 3.72 1,596
Martin Kelly DF C. Palace 22 3.59 1,853

The Brazilian midfielder has quickly emerged as the Premier League leader in one key defensive area - tackles made per game. Based on this statistic he has been more prolific than Southampton full-back Nathaniel Clyne and - widely regarded as the top flight's best defensive midfielder - Chelsea's Nemanja Matic, although both trail closely behind.

Lucas had allegedly been a target for Inter Milan in the January transfer window but Rodgers made it clear that he wanted to keep him, according to a report from Sky Sports. It's fair to say the decision has paid off, especially considering the only Premier League defeat they have suffered in the last two months - 3-0 vs Manchester United in December - came when the Brazilian was not in the team.

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