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Lucas Leiva has often been dismissed as a mediocre battler with little or no star quality, but the much-maligned midfielder’s performance against Chelsea marked him out as an influential part of Liverpool’s recent recovery.
Few players have attracted as much ire as the combative Brazilian who was reportedly close to strolling out the Anfield exit door during the summer with a host of European also-rans touted as a possible destination.
But his performance in the 2-0 victory, for which he would have been a certainty for man-of-the-match unless a certain Fernando Torres had not bagged both goals, would have underlined his importance to manager Roy Hodgson.
He was everything that Liverpool fans expected when he first arrived from Brazilian side Gremio with a burgeoning reputation as an all-action, box-to-box player.
In the heady days of Istanbul and Athens when Liverpool fans considered anything less than a trip to the Champions League final a disappointing campaign, the Kop would regularly belt out: “We have the best midfield in the world.”
It was the formidable midfield combination of Xabi Alonso, Steven Gerrard and later Javier Mascherano that spurred the Anfield faithful into song.