It's been a strange season in the midfield for Lucas, who has at times looked close to his pre-injury form and at others looked off the pace and unable to keep up. The form and effort level of Steven Gerrard likely has something to do with it, as does the continued rehabilitation of a holding midfielder once among the best in the country. There's no questioning, however, that we're yet to see the best of Lucas on a consistent basis, as his performances have included a mixture of both the good and the bad, with the latter more evident as a match wears on and no cover is available.
There's also no question that he's one of the leaders in this Liverpool squad by virtue of the length of his tenure; in Wednesday's starting eleven, Lucas was the second longest-serving player in the squad behind Gerrard, and his role is now one as a leader at a club that's undergone plenty of turnover since he first arrived in 2007.
"Sunderland is a big game for us after two defeats and the game against Southampton. We lost at home and we didn't perform well. We have to get those three points back and get back on track. We know how difficult the Premier League is and we have to make sure that we get points away from home as well. Out of the last six points in the league, we have only picked up one, so it's important to win. Sunderland are fighting to get back into winning ways as well, so it will be an interesting game for both sides and I hope we can win and get the three points. We want to get back towards the top of the table again."
The message applies both generally and individually; with Saturday's results, this is a time for Liverpool to gain ground, and with Lucas apparently once again in need of convincing a section of the fanbase, a strong performance and three points tomorrow would go some ways toward bringing back the optimism around both player and club. Sunderland will no doubt provide a test, but it's also an opportunity to for all involved on the Liverpool end of things--Lucas included--to work their way forward after a difficult week.