- Premier League
Lucas Leiva calls for fortress Anfield
Lucas Leiva has called on Liverpool to bring the fear factor back to Anfield in 2013, starting against Sunderland in the Premier League on Wednesday night.
Brendan Rodgers' side are looking to improve their home form in the New Year after consistently dropping points on their own patch during 2012. Liverpool won six out of 19 league games at Anfield in the last calendar year under Rodgers and his predecessor Kenny Dalglish, collecting 24 points from a possible 57.
Rodgers has made plans for a more successful future by dipping into the transfer market, with a £12 million deal for Chelsea striker Daniel Sturridge set to be completed, and the £4 million purchase of Blackpool midfielder Tom Ince expected to follow.
And Lucas feels the time is right to start making Anfield the fortress it was during the club's greatest times in the 1970s and '80s.
"This year, we have to be stronger at home," the Brazilian midfielder told the Liverpool Echo. "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."
Lucas is hoping for a personally satisfying New Year after spending most of 2012 on the treatment table. He missed the second half of last season with anterior cruciate knee ligament damage sustained during a League Cup victory at Chelsea in November 2011.
The 25-year-old fought back to full fitness to join the pre-season tour of North America but then tore a thigh muscle during a Premier League match against Manchester City in August, and was ruled out for a further three months.
He described 2012 as "a really difficult year", but since making his comeback in the 1-0 win over Southampton on December 1, he has managed five starts and one substitute appearance.
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."