By Dave Davis – @DaveD0106
“You’re not going to play as well as you’d like in every single game so when you’re not flying or playing as well as you can, it’s important to find a way to win and keep going right until the end and we managed to do that.” – Jordan Henderson
The words he used are quite apt considering the captain has found himself lambasted in various quarters this season.
Common complaints have included the number of sideways passes and the fact the 28-year-old occupies a role many believe should be Virgil van Dijk’s. Liverpool’s captain has had his struggles this season, but his current form is being cruelly ignored.
After returning from England’s World Cup exertions, it was always going to take time for the former Sunderland man to be fully up to speed. Henderson’s first full ninety minutes in the Premier League didn’t come until six games in, whilst an injury in October didn’t help at all.
Away defeats in Europe to Napoli and PSG seem to have been laid at the feet of the skipper too, despite others also disappointing. When he struggles the England international can look cumbersome and will play the easy ball sideways or backwards. Detractors seem to be focused on previous games as opposed to the present though.
Henderson was Liverpool’s man of the match against Crystal Palace and was rightly awarded the official accolade. A 93% pass accuracy, 82 passes forward, three tackles won and 10 recoveries illustrate the importance of a player who hasn’t just hit form overnight.
In the last six Premier League games, it was only against Arsenal where the former Sunderland man didn’t play the full 90 minutes. Against Palace, many heralded Henderson’s full passing range and ability to stretch a team wide who sat behind the ball. December’s analysis tells a fuller story.
The Under Pressure Podcast illustrated how the skippers pass percentage to a forward was up from 11 to 19, whilst average passes into the box went up to five from a little under two.
For all the talk and quite rightly of Fabinho’s recent form, Henderson appears to have been glossed over in recent times. For many reds, Steven Gerrard’s replacement as captain will never be good enough, despite being Jurgen Klopp’s choice throughout his time at Anfield.
December has seen a return to form for the player though. Those who disagree may well carry another agenda.