LUCAS LEIVA has a New Year’s resolution – to bring back the Anfield fear factor in 2013. The Liverpool midfielder admits that improving their form in L4 is vital after a dismal 12 months on home turf.
Out of 19 league games at Anfield in 2012, only six were won with seven defeats as the Reds took just 24 points out of a possible 57.
Fans had to endure the likes of Wigan, West Brom, Fulham and Aston Villa walking away with the spoils and Lucas insists it’s time to put that right – starting against Sunderland tonight.
“This year we have to be stronger at home,” said Lucas.
“If we want to climb the table and have a successful season then we have to be getting a lot more points at Anfield.
“We need to make Anfield a much tougher place for teams to come so that opponents who go there fear playing against us.
“That’s the way it used to be and we need to get back to that.
“Let’s start the year with a good win against Sunderland and then ensure we build on that.
“We have to make the most of our home matches. If we do that then 2013 will be a better year for the club.”
On a personal level Lucas was glad to see the back of 2012. He was forced to sit and watch the second half of last season as he recovered from surgery to repair damage to the anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee.
The 25-year-old’s dedication to his rehabilitation programme saw him make his comeback two months ahead of schedule on the pre-season tour of North America.
However, just five minutes into the second league game of Brendan Rodgers’ Anfield reign he was forced off with a torn thigh muscle, which ruled him out for a further three months.
Lucas returned to action against Southampton at the start of December and has since clocked up five starts and a substitute appearance.
“2012 was a really difficult year for me having spent so much time out injured,” he said. “In five years at Liverpool I didn’t really have any problems at all. Then in the past year I had two serious injuries. But that’s in the past and the positive thing for me is that I finished 2012 playing matches.
“I feel fit and strong and now I want to start 2013 in a good way by being involved and helping the team. I hope I can stay fit this year and play a lot of games.
“I’m really looking forward to it. With no more injuries, I’m hoping this will be a perfect year for me.”
December was a month of contrasting emotions for the Reds with league wins over Southampton, West Ham, Fulham and QPR sandwiched by defeats to Aston Villa and Stoke City.
Consistency continues to elude Rodgers’ side but Lucas insists the quality is there to launch a push up the Premier League over the coming months.
“It’s hard to explain why we have performed so much better in some games than others,” he said.
“But we have to take the positives out of the recent run of matches. We have proved that we can perform and that we’re able to win games.
“It’s just a question of keeping our focus and approaching every game in that way.
“If we do that in the second half of the season then we will be in a better position. We have a lot of good players here. The reason so many players have committed themselves to the club is because they really believe we are improving and can take the club back to where it belongs.”
A top four finish remains an achievable target but the former Gremio midfielder believes the Reds shouldn’t burden themselves with discussions about the possibility of Champions League qualification.
“I don’t think we should be talking about the top four at the moment,” he added.
“We’re still a lot of points behind and there are a lot of teams between us and the top four.
“Let’s find a consistency first and then see what happens. We can’t afford to look any further ahead than playing Sunderland.”
The Black Cats haven’t won at Anfield since 1983 but they are unbeaten in the past three meetings between the clubs.
Martin O’Neill’s side have climbed away from the drop zone after a run of three victories in their past five league games, including the scalp of champions Manchester City.
Lucas wants Liverpool to maintain the standards they set in the first half of last Sunday’s 3-0 thrashing of QPR.
“From the first minute we were better than them,” he said.
“QPR may be low on confidence but we didn’t allow them to settle. We controlled the game from the start and we took our chances.
“That’s the way we have to start every game. We need to try to keep playing the same way against Sunderland. It will be a hard game as they beat Man City but we want to start a new year with three points.”