Liverpool have without doubt been the best team in the Premier League this season, shown by the requirement of just two wins to clinch the title with nine games still to play. One player who has been a key factor in such a dominating campaign is the captain, Jordan Henderson.
Following a string of fine performances prior to the unpredictable halt to the season, the Reds’ skipper had gained substantial momentum in the running for PFA Player of The Year, a title currently held by teammate Virgil van Dijk.
Among the usual Henderson critics, the thought of him claiming the accolade has raised eyebrows. However, make no mistake about it, the Englishman is a worthy candidate and would be a deserving winner of the prestigious prize.
Judging his season so far purely on statistics, the 29-year-old has achieved a greater total of goal contributions only twice before in his Premier League career, playing 35 games or more in both campaigns. In 2014/15, the England international racked up six goals and nine assists having started 36 times, while he currently sits on three goals and five assists, starting 22 games so far this campaign.
Breaking down the two campaigns though, it is clear the former Sunderland man has improved simply from the numbers. In comparison to the six goals scored with use of only his right foot in 2014/15, this campaign has season him score with each of his left foot, right and his head, a sign of his development in ability to finish.
Looking closer, statistics from the Premier League state that Henderson has created eight big chances already this season but finished on nine altogether six years ago.
Further to the attacking impressions he has had on the side though, there has also been significant contributions defensively too. Liverpool’s No.14 has recovered the ball successfully on 148 occasions for his side and won a resounding 102 duels.
Realistically, for anyone watching the Premier League this season, it is clearly to see the improvement of a player who was said to have been offered to Fulham under Brendan Rodgers’ management.
His delivery has been first class, while his ability to spray the ball around the park has been stunning to see. For many a year Henderson has been regarded as a player that can only play the ball from side to side, but this is simply not true. This season alone, his vision has been superb and the execution of his passing not much different.
Truth be told though, one of the main considerations for Henderson claiming PFA Player of The Year must be his leadership. When you acknowledge some of the greatest Premier League outfits of the past, one noticeable factor in the sides winning is a leader — even Leicester City had a great talisman in Wes Morgan during their remarkable triumph.
The departure of Steven Gerrard left a major hole at the club — not only did Liverpool lose a great player, but they lost his aura, his gravitas. Since his departure, though, Henderson has thrived and become one of the most effective captains around, having learned from the best.
After suffering major disappointment last season, losing the league by just one point having already accumulated 97, could easily have shaken the Reds and had a negative impact this season.
If anything, though, it appears to have motivated the side even more. Many will point to the management and rightly so, although Henderson’s leadership has played a significant role in Liverpool’s rise to the top.
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