Injury and insult often go hand in hand and it looks like the two companions have teamed up again where Liverpool’s standout Capital One Cup performer is concerned, handing Manchester City more good news ahead of the clubs’ immediate Anfield rematch.
According to Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp, who was addressing the media on Tuesday lunchtime ahead of Wednesday evening’s Premier League showdown, a muscle problem looks like keeping Lucas Leiva from any involvement.
Injury compounds insult in this instance, after the Brazilian was brave enough to step up from 12 yards in the final only to see his shot saved.
But anyone who saw the Reds’ makeshift centre-half’s performance in the 120 minutes leading up to that split second when Willy Caballero stretched to thwart him, will know that Lucas was arguably the player on the losing side who can feel most bitter about the result.
It was a big call from Klopp to drop the defensive midfielder back into the heart of defence in a game of such magnitude, though aside from Sergio Aguero slipping the noose on a couple of occasions, Lucas ensured the German’s decision was vindicated.
The Brazilian’s reading of the game and positional awareness was superb. For the league rematch Klopp now has Dejan Lovren and possibly Martin Skrtel ready to make comebacks, as well as Kolo Toure to call upon, but it was up there with the best defensive display of the campaign by a Reds player so Lucas should have retained his spot.
As Liverpool’s goal difference attests, the benchmark hasn’t been set nearly high enough by the regular mix of first-choice centre-halves in the top flight, meaning Aguero and Co can cash in on Wednesday.
Manuel Pellegrini’s League Cup winners are 9/5 outsiders to clinch a vital three points in a bid to keep pace in the title race and this looks a decent price in Liverpool’s defensively-uncertain circumstances.
After Simon Mignolet managed to keep him at bay with two superb reaction stops at Wembley, Aguero will have revenge in mind on Merseyside and looks ripe as a 4/1-deadlock breaker against whatever rusty central pairing he’s up against.
All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.