Liverpool won the battle on Sunday, earning a vital 3-2 victory over Manchester City that ensures the Reds will be Premier League champions if they win their last four games. But did they lose the war?
It's worth asking after key player Jordan Henderson inexplicably earned a straight red card late in the match, and now faces a forthcoming suspension.
NBC Sports Soccer has more on the moment itself:
Meanwhile, Squawka Football shared a picture of Henderson's foul and discussed the suspension:
The moment Jordan Henderson was sent off. pic.twitter.com/xS8ZneNx3X— Squawka Football (@Squawka) April 13, 2014
Jordan Henderson will now miss three of Liverpool's remaining four Premier League fixtures after today's game. Huge blow.— Squawka Football (@Squawka) April 13, 2014
And really, there was no doubt it had to be called, as Michael Cummings of Bleacher Report noted:
Right call, that. Foolish by Henderson— Michael Cummings (@MikeCummings37) April 13, 2014
Dale Johnson of ESPN has more on the matches Henderson will miss:
Liverpool's Jordan Henderson will be suspended for Norwich (A), Chelsea (H) and Crystal Palace (A). #lfc— Dale Johnson (@dalejohnsonESPN) April 13, 2014
It's the Chelsea match that looms large, as Ben Smith of BBC Sport tweeted:
Sturridge left the match against City early with an apparent injury, the severity of which remains unknown. But if Liverpool have to face Chelsea without two of their key players this year, earning all three points against the Blues will be that much more difficult.
But how important has Henderson really been this year?
Pretty darn important. He's appeared in every Premier League game this season, earning a 7.21 average match rating from WhoScored. He's scored four goals, added seven assists and has added 1.8 key passes per contest.
And then there's this, from Squawka Football:
The only EPL player to have completed more passes this season than Jordan Henderson (1624) is Yaya Toure (1909). pic.twitter.com/9raC9MVaz3— Squawka Football (@Squawka) April 13, 2014
Amidst all the dominance of Luis Suarez and Daniel Sturridge atop the attack, Henderson has quietly been one of Liverpool's most important players. Unheralded but vital, his ascendance from last year—when he wasn't one of Brendan Rodgers first choices on the team sheet—has been impressive.
Even he noted the difference in his play this year before the match to Carl Markham of the Press Association (via the Daily Mail):
I have enjoyed playing football, I have improved as the season has gone on and I feel a lot more confident. But that is just down to learning from the lads and everyone fighting together in training.
I feel as though I can help the team in games and I try to help other people as much as I can and that goes for everyone. You can see everyone is in it together.
Of course, Liverpool were bound to get a red card at some point. Consider the following, from WhoScored:
Liverpool: Jordan Henderson's red card vs Manchester City is the first Liverpool have received in the Premier League this season— WhoScored.com (@WhoScored) April 13, 2014
But it was a terrible time in the season for it to finally happen, and it was a key player who was lost in the process. Liverpool are four wins away from a title, but they'll have to earn nine points without Henderson, who has been such a steadying force all year long.
There's no doubt the Reds are capable of doing so, but the task at hand was just made all the more difficult. The battle was won; the war for a Premier League title rages on.