Why Losing Hendo Could Be Crucial To Liverpool's Title Push
Jordan Henderson came from Sunderland with a big price tag and even bigger expectations under Kenny Dalglish.
The £20 million cost was always going to add heaps of pressure on the shoulders of the Wearside youngster and it visibly hindered his development in the first couple of seasons. A completely different player from the former Liverpool number 14 Xabi Alonso (I chose to ignore Milan Jovanovic), his boundless energy and work rate are his main attributes and will no doubt propel him to being one of England and Liverpool's top players, unless you ask Sir Alex Ferguson. He feels Henderson's posture and gait he has when he's running will hold him back. Good one.
This season Henderson has bloomed into an integral cog in the Liverpool machine. According to the sporting stat behemoth OPTA, Henderson has attempted 1075 passes so far this season and has accurately found a red shirt on 934 of that 1075. If you include throw-ins, he has completed 962 - impressive. I tried to find how many times he's successfully tied his laces, or how many times he's ironed his socks, but OPTA don't delve that far into stats, surprisingly.
Liverpool recorded one of the most important results in recent history on Sunday with a hard fought 3-2 win against title favourites Manchester City. Anfield was at its imperious best. One of the very few negatives of that performance was the dismissal of Henderson for a tired looking lunge on Samir Nasri. Henderson took a heavy first touch which Nasri capitalised on. Henderson uncharacteristically lunged and rolled over the top of the ball with his studs on display leaving Nasri in a heap. No complaints there.
Liverpool also lost Daniel Sturridge that day to tightness in his hamstring; but it is not as bad as initially feared, and he will have a chance to prove his fitness at Carrow Road on Sunday. A 12pm kick off time is absolutely ridiculous, I must add, forcing most of the fans to leave either the night before for the game or into the small hours of the morning, (modern football for you).
Henderson will miss three of the Reds' last four games - Norwich away, the Anfield visit of Chelsea and the journey to Crystal Palace. He'll return for the season ending clash at home against Newcastle. Liverpool do not have the big squads to match the likes of Manchester City and Chelsea, but have adequate replacements in Joe Allen and Lucas to decide from to fill Henderson's place in the starting eleven.
Neither player offers the energy levels of what he has. It's important to have a player with the endurance of Hendo, simply because he sets the tempo with his constant closing down of the opponent. Henderson is on the move that much that there is a parody twitter account called @IsHendoRunning. I severely doubt it is the man himself, but I will let you be the judge of that.
Henderson has been on the field for 99.2% of Liverpool's games this season which is an absolutely ridiculous proportion of games for a central midfielder. It is a testament to his endurance and the old fashioned box to box role he plays. He has started every single game for the Reds this season and was last substituted against Sunday’s opponents of Norwich in the 5-1 demolition of them at Anfield.
The ban couldn't have come at a worse time for Liverpool. It remains to be seen whether it will halt the march for the first Liverpool title in 24 years.