Premier League: Jordan Henderson reaffirms his worth for Liverpool as inspired Reds extend lead

If fans check their agendas and biases against players, they will have the pleasure of witnessing each and every one of Liverpool’s moving parts at play. Jordan Henderson, like it or not, is one of the most integral sprockets in this Liverpool juggernaut.

Srijandeep Das October 28, 2019 14:53:46 IST
Premier League: Jordan Henderson reaffirms his worth for Liverpool as inspired Reds extend lead
  • Jordan Henderson is one of the most integral sprockets in this Liverpool juggernaut.

  • Trent Alexander Arnold became the player with most key passes this Premier League season with 37.

  • Henderson was the right-sided prong of Liverpool's midfield counter-press, aiding and abetting Trent Alexander Arnold attacking prowess.

Liverpool defeated Tottenham Hotspur who were out to upset the applecart so much so they almost succeeded in dousing it with gasoline at Anfield. Liverpool skipper Jordan Henderson snuck in at the far post in the 52nd minute, while Mauricio Pochettino's Spurs had the ponderousness of a person asking around for a lighter in the second half.

Premier League Jordan Henderson reaffirms his worth for Liverpool as inspired Reds extend lead

Mohamed Salah, right, celebrates with Jordan Henderson after scoring his side's second goal against Tottenham Hotspur. AP

Mohamed Salah’s 75th-minute penalty completed the comeback. Harry Kane’s early 42nd-second effort was cancelled out, and the match ended 2-1 in favour of the title contenders, who now have a six-point lead over Manchester City. This win also meant that the Merseyside club have matched their best-ever start in the opening 10 Premier League games.

Here, we look at some of the talking points of the match that induced much anxiety by the nature of its to-and-fro-ness:

Don’t write off Jordan Henderson

‘Rache’ is the German word for revenge. It is derived from the Old Norse word 'rakkí,' a name that was given to hunting dogs used in the British in the Middle Ages before the Norman conquest. The Rakki was a scenthound used in a hunting-party to run down or bring a game to bay. That word was Tottenham’s first-half gameplan in a nutshell.

For most parts of the first-half, Jurgen Klopp glowered like the bearded Odin would have due to the impudence and threat of Tottenham’s pack mentality, especially because he felt like he was being given a taste of his own bitter medicine.

Pochettino appealed to the pride of his players in the pre-match conversation. He asked them to remember the Champions League final loss that forever resigned their legacy as runners-up just a few months ago. Thus, Tottenham came out of the blocks like an angry hell-hound. They siphoned their attacks through the middle.

Most neutrals and rivals fans aren’t sure as to what Jordan Henderson adds to the Liverpool midfield, despite being the figurative knees that helped Liverpool gallop to a historic 2018-19 season. But what’s interesting is that they are far outnumbered by Liverpool fans.

Admittedly, the Liverpool captain had been on an uninspiring run of form. Stats support this claim: According to Opta, football’s premier data gathering resource, Henderson has averaged only above second-choice goalkeeper Adrian in terms of helping his team moving the ball into the forward positions.

Joel Matip, Virgil van Dijk, Trent Alexander Arnold, and Andrew Robertson, defenders all, rank above the midfielder, alarmingly, the one who has been assigned to play the role of a midfield shuttler. This statistic is further underpinned by the fact that no other Liverpool midfielder has lost possession more often than the man who lifted the club’s sixth European Championship.

Column inches leading up to this integral match postured whether Henderson will better serve the cause as a non-playing captain on the back of the encouraging performances of Alex Oxlade Chamberlain and Naby Keita. Considering that Tottenham statistically pose most threat in the league on the turnover of possession, with a chunk of their goals coming on counters, the assertion was not entirely misplaced.

With all this in mind, Klopp obstinately started with Henderson. Because he, more than anyone, knew that when the chips are down, it is his skipper who puffs his chest out. Liverpool needed someone to wrestle the game down to the mat and to count it out.

Tottenham had their tail up as Harry Kane stooped to head in a rebound off the crossbar from a Heung Son Min shot as early as the first minute. What followed was a footballing equivalent of a grappling session, with both teams gaining and conceding a head-lock. Liverpool went back into the dressing room with a goal deficit but it was not because of fo a lack of effort.

When the breakthrough came, the home team notched up nine shots on goal, with 76 percent possession. Tottenham’s ability to maintain their energy levels has been susceptible this season, with them throwing away winning leads in the Premier League (Leicester City) and in Europe (Olympiakos).

Jurgen Klopp noted after the game: “The counter-press was exceptional, it was back. We wanted to be really strong in that department. It was clear we might be dominant but then you lose balls, and the counter-press was really good."

When the goal came, it was Henderson’s astute diagonal run in the box, that met Fabinho’s lofted pass. The jubilation was clear in the skipper’s celebration. Veins popping across the sinews of his neck and face, and his shout climbed above the Anfield roar. It was his first goal at Anfield in five years, and the timing couldn’t have been sweeter.

The wind in Liverpool’s collective chest proved to be much more than Tottenham’s over the course of the match. and

Bend it like Trent Alexander Arnold, pass it like Fabinho

Trent Alexander Arnold became the player with most key passes this Premier League season with 37. The man who is second on that list? Manchester City’s midfield maestro, Kevin de Bruyne. Point to note is that the former is a defender while the latter is considered a generational playmaker.

The 21-year-old was mocked across social media for his Guinness World Record induction for the most assist by a defender in a Premier League season claim, earlier in the month. Jurgen Klopp and the analytical team will point out that Henderson’s presence has a big part to play in that.

It was the combined movement that ultimately unsettled Tottenham’s backline, making them drop deeper. It was the very same reason Fabinho found space and time on the ball to channel the spirit of Xabi Alonso, picking out lofted forward passes at will. This ultimately resulted in Tottenham getting caught in the counter on the 74th minute - Serge Aurier ill-matched with the brute power and pace of a Sadio Mane chasing down an aerial ball was brought down by the Frenchman for the penalty.

If fans check their agendas and biases against players, they will have the pleasure of witnessing each and every one of Liverpool’s moving parts at play. Jordan Henderson, like it or not, is one of the most integral sprockets in this Liverpool juggernaut.

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