The loss of Lucas early in yesterday's draw at Everton clearly disrupted the flow of Liverpool's approach. With the Brazilian excelling in a holding role and partnering well with Jordan Henderson, Brendan Rodgers' eleven had found far more balance than they'd had earlier in the season, and Lucas' presence was a significant part of that improvement.
So it was losing him rather than adding Joe Allen that caused problems for Liverpool, and while Allen improved as the match wore on--which you'd expect for a player who's found minutes limited due to injury and the form of Henderson and Lucas--he couldn't quite replicate the excellent, assured displays produced by the club's best (and only) holding midfielder.
Allen isn't entirely unfamiliar with having to fill in for Lucas, of course, as he spent his first few months on Merseyside doing just that, often to great effect. It's a spell many are hoping he manages to replicate if Lucas' injury rules him out longer term, and the Welshman is confident that he's capable of doing just that:
"When you are on the bench you always know there's that chance that someone might pick up an injury and you need to come on. From a personal point of view, it was great to be involved in such a big game. But at the same time you feel gutted for your team-mate who has come off. Injuries have been an issue for me this season. Thankfully, I've never had any serious ones in my time here.
"But my season has been broken up by minor injuries and each time it takes you a little while to get back to the level you want to be at. It's been frustrating but hopefully I can stay fit now and help us finish the season strongly. I'm confident that if I stay fit and get myself in this team I can help and show what I can do. We will give everything to get into the top four. We have ground to make up and work to do but it starts in our next game against Spurs."
It's fitting that Allen would make his return ahead of the Spurs match given that he's traditionally done very well against the North London side, and he made his mark again in the reverse fixture this season by winning a penalty that gave Liverpool a comfortable 2-0 lead. It led to criticism from virtuous Spurs supporters whose sensibilities were offended by what they perceived to be a dive, particularly in light of comments the midfielder made in the build-up about the need to be more cynical.
On Tuesday it would be nice if some degree of cynicism returned, as Liverpool will need Allen--assuming he will start rather than dropping Steven Gerrard deeper or bringing Emre Can forward--to have a good showing against a solid Spurs midfield. With two points dropped yesterday, a win is vital for Liverpool's slim top four hopes.