Luis Suarez will rightly take the plaudits after his first hat-trick at Anfield in the 4-1 victory over West Bromwich, but there is one player whose influence will go unnoticed by some.
That player is one who has been in the headlines, of sort, himself this week—although, not of his own making.
Jordan Henderson was one of several Liverpool players to receive unfair criticism in Alex Ferguson's new autobiography.
Ferguson, as reported in The Daily Mail, claimed "Henderson's gait will cause him problems later in his career because he runs from his knees with a straight back."
Regardless, the four-time Olympic gold medal winning sprinter Michael Johnson revolutionised his sport in multiple distances by adopting a style that saw him run with a straight back.
Jordan Henderson is really fired up after gait-gate.— Tony Barrett (@TonyBarretTimes) October 26, 2013
Well, Henderson certainly ran the show for Liverpool in midfield against The Baggies.
Whenever he has been played in an attacking midfield role, he's impressed.
Brendan Rodgers opted to effectively flip his midfield triangle from 2-1 to 1-2, with Lucas Leiva replacing Victor Moses, allowing Henderson and Gerrard to focus more on attacking.
Henderson's strengths are well-known, namely his energy and dynamism. When deployed as he was against Steve Clarke's side, this allows Liverpool to press much higher up the pitch. As recognised after the match by the manager:
"They're a very good side but it was more about how good we were today. We pressed the ball much better, that was the key." Rodgers.— Peter McDowall (@Petermcdowall10) October 26, 2013
Henderson, rather than playing in an unnatural wing-back role or tasked with defensive duties, instead pressed high up, winning the ball for Suarez and Daniel Sturridge to profit by putting the visitors' defence under pressure quicker. It was crucial to Liverpool's play.
Henderson made more attacking final third passes than any other player (20 out of 27), with just two passes attempted in the defensive third.
Of a total 49 passes, over half (27) were in the final third.
Liverpool's midfield has lacked such energy, drive and pressing this season and the sight of Henderson pressing West Brom's defence on the edge of their own box, especially in the first half, was a welcome sight at Anfield.
Only four players have started all 11 League and Cup games for Liverpool this season: goalkeeper Simon Mignolet, captain Steven Gerrard, top scorer Daniel Sturridge, and Henderson.
His place in the side is recognised by the manager and it's time it is noticed by the wider media and supporters as well.
Just heard Jordan Henderson on 5Live respond to Sir Alex daft comments - he showed class and common sense - helps after a great win;-)— John Bishop (@JohnBishop100) October 26, 2013
Previously, Henderson's best performance for Liverpool had come in the 2-2 draw at Arsenal towards the end of last season. He returns to the Emirates next week and his place in the starting XI is assured.
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