We only have the one game without Lucas, but we've got nothing to do until Saturday so we might as well see what we know. And with Jay Spearing facing three games out, it's the last time we'll get to study this until the end of the month. Spearing was chosen to be first up to fill the hole. I thought I would study this match against Fulham with Lucas's at West Brom, because that involved a somewhat similar opponent away from home. The charts show that Spearing attempted about the same number of passes, completed about the same, won near the same amount of tackles and intercepted about the same amount of passes. However, the difference, which Nate at Oh You Beauty got to earlier today, shows the distinct difference:
As you can see, Spearing is far more stationary than Lucas. However, there are a couple of caveats here. One, Spearing was in a formation with two other central midfielders, which Lucas rarely was. So the space for Spearing to cover is less than Lucas would have to when he only was paired with Adam or Gerrard. Secondly, and this is only speculation, but it's a pretty fair bet that Spearing was told to make things simple and not get too ambitious. This probably led to Spearing being where he thought he was supposed to be and overly cautious to not leave it. Of course, his red card came away from this area.
There's been some hot debating action about the 4-3-3 that Liverpool used on Monday, and how far away it put Suarez and Bellamy from goal. While some have used this as proof that Liverpool should scrap it, I'd still like to see more of it. It was only one game, and I'm still of the opinion it's going to take two guys to do what Lucas did by himself. Whether that's Spearing-Adam, Gerrard when healthy-Adam, Henderson-Adam, I have no idea. But I think that's what it's going to take.Secondly, this was Suarez's first game as the wide part of a front three in forever, and I think after a couple games he'll figure out how to get closer to goal. Thirdly, it's the best system to fit in Andy Carroll. While Carroll may not be the type you should "fit in", and maybe Liverpool don't have time to find out if he's part of the plan right now or not, I think a couple games look-see is worth it. Especially against the upcoming opponents, but then again I've said that before, haven't i?
But Bellamy and Maxi are best in a 4-3-3 or 4-2-3-1, and they're climbing closer and closer to being automatic for the first 11. Obviously, the best is when those two combine with Suarez all by themselves, but that's fine too as long as they have a base of three behind them, because I don't trust any of the central midfield options to be a duo and be sturdy.
Sorry about the centering, every time I try and include one of these charts it sends this alignment loopy.