Liverpool left themselves needing a win over Napoli in their final group stage game after losing 2-1 away to Paris Saint-Germain on Wednesday night, and the performance should be a worry for Reds fans for a number of reasons.
The first of these is that manager Jurgen Klopp almost certainly made a mistake with his team selection on the night, as he started with James Milner, Gini Wijnaldum and Jordan Henderson in midfield, and the trio were unable to protect their back four or create anything for the front three.
The second cause for concern, and perhaps the most obvious on the night, was the struggle of Liverpool’s captain.
The 28-year-old was completely overrun at the base of Liverpool’s midfield and Neymar and co were able to run at the backline all game. In fact, both Juan Bernat and Neymar’s first-half goals came as the French champions played through the centre of the park and worked their way into the penalty area. Despite the regular PSG attacks, Henderson only made one tackle in the whole game.
The Reds also only had one shot on target in total throughout the whole 90 minutes, and this was Milner’s penalty that he dispatched on the stroke of half-time.
Henderson saw lots of the ball during the game, emphasised by his 76 touches, but the skipper was unable to feed the usually dangerous front three or pick out a killer pass himself.
There is no doubt that Henderson has been a fantastic servant for the Merseyside club, but his succession of injuries seem to have taken their toll and he is no longer mobile enough to justify his selection in big games.
The 48-cap England international used to make up for what he lacked in creativity with hard work and defensive cover, but he was found out against PSG.
During the summer the Reds spent big money on Naby Keita and Fabinho, who plays in that exact deep-lying midfield role, and Klopp must now start trusting the two new boys in the Champions League and the biggest league games.
Fabinho has the athleticism to get about the pitch whilst also being a forward-thinking passer of the ball, as he looks to feed the strikers at every opportunity whereas Henderson is now far too cautious.
Klopp will benefit from having strength in depth in his squad this season, but he must now be brave and start dropping Liverpool’s captain more often than not.
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