This is a really big year for Jordan Henderson and for Liverpool in general. Liverpool made a decent enough start by claiming the three points against Ronald Koeman’s new look Southampton side but the performance itself was nothing to write home about. Few Liverpool players truly excelled throughout the entire game although Raheem Sterling did well for most of the game with Joe Allen also making an impact when coming off the bench. Jordan Henderson was probably one of the better Liverpool players on the day which is nothing short of what is now expected of the England international. Henderson has become one of Liverpool’s most consistent performers during the last year or so and now looks set to add the chance creation and goals which could take his game up to another level.
Manager Brendan Rodgers has hinted that he’d like Henderson to now start to get forward more, especially with the departure of Luis Suarez – the club’s top goalscorer from last season. With the Uruguayan now plying his trade on the continent it has fallen upon the midfields feet to try and find more goals from new positions. Henderson is one of those players who needs to start creating more and scoring more and Sundays match was an indication that he may be up to challenge. Playing mostly on the right of the midfield, Henderson continued to pop up in attacking positions throughout the game and it was his inch perfect pass which meant Sterling could open the scoring.
The assist itself was magical from Henderson with the England midfielder pressing hard with Javier Manquillo on Liverpool’s right hand side before curling a beautiful left-footed pass between Nathaniel Clyne and the deepest lying Southampton centre-back. The move itself was a perfect example of how well Liverpool can transition from defence to attack with Liverpool scoring within seconds of regaining the ball.
Henderson also excelled during general attacking plays with the midfielder completing two key passes – a decent return considering how tight the match was with Southampton pressing Liverpool hard. Henderson also managed to get two shots in on goal which back-ups the notion that he will be more of an attacking outlet this season.
Henderson was also Liverpool’s main defensive midfielder last season despite Steven Gerrard occupying the deepest lying midfield position. Henderson does most of Gerrard’s defensive work so that Gerrard can use his energy for creative endeavour. Henderson continued this trend in Sundays victory by completing three tackles and one interception. This section typifies Henderson’s all action approach and shows how important he is to Liverpool’s cause. Not only does he attack and create, he also defends and is the most vital midfielder the Reds have got.
Henderson’s passing is one of his biggest strengths, alongside his pressing, although that wasn’t completely apparent during the Anfield opener. Henderson got the assist for Sterling’s opening goal with the beautiful through ball catching Southampton cold, however, Henderson had a slightly lower than normal 78% passing accuracy from his 50 passes which he attempted to play. Henderson did complete two long balls during the match but Rodgers will hope the midfielder gets back to normal during the coming matches – although we mustn’t be too critical with Henderson playing slightly of position.
All in all, it wasn’t vintage Liverpool or Henderson during the Southampton match but the result is all that matters and one moment of genius from Henderson was enough to get Liverpool going during a tense opening day. Long may it continue for Liverpool, and England.