Regular readers will have known an every touch compilation of Lucas' return to action against Southampton was inevitable from the moment the midfielder's name appeared on the teamsheet, and on this occasion we're more than happy doing what's expected.
Despite a handful of misplaced efforts out to the right flank, Lucas' return saw him complete the most passes of any player on either side while his 88% completion rate was second only to Daniel Agger amongst starters. So, just like old times. Though perhaps with an added dose of terror for every minute past the 60th he remained on the pitch.
In any case, returning to action against Southampton after a three month layoff on the back of a nearly nine month absence, he certainly didn't seem to have lost the ability to out-jump opponents who were taller than him. His unmatched ability to read the game similarly appeared undiminished, too. Composure on the ball? Check. Always seeming to know where he wants to go before he takes possession? Check. Knowing when to take the odd professional foul to stop a dangerous break from developing? Check.
Tactically, his inclusion also led to a slight shift in Liverpool's approach when they built possession, as he often dropped deep between Agger and Skrtel as a third centre back when Liverpool regained the ball. It allowed Glen Johnson and Jose Enrique to spend much of the match playing as wingbacks, and it will be interesting to see if this approach becomes a regular feature of Liverpool's play even against higher ranked opponents.
Even if there appears a bit of understandable rust left to knock off, it would be difficult to argue that Liverpool isn't still a vastly improved side with the short of match fitness version of Lucas on display on Sunday than they are without him. About the only real concern now for Brendan Rodgers may be trying to avoid overplaying him in the coming weeks.Video by PolarBro via his DailyMotion channel