This article is part of Football FanCast’s Opinion series, which provides analysis, insight and opinion on any issue within the beautiful game, from Paul Pogba’s haircuts to League Two relegation battles…
They got the job done in the end. It was by no means easy, but Liverpool rode out a couple of incredibly nervy moments to seal yet another win in the Premier League, and strengthen their vice-like grip at the top of the table. Just days after securing their passage into the knockout stages of the Champions League as they bid to retain European football’s holy grail, the Reds looked understandably rusty from their travels abroad.
Jurgen Klopp made a couple of changes to his starting line-up against Watford to bring in some fresh energy, but one man who he didn’t leave out, was captain Jordan Henderson. The England international played his 22nd game across all competitions, and he looked decidedly lethargic and loose with his display. Playing as part of two holding midfielders alongside Georginio Wijnaldum, the 29-year-old struggled to get to grips with the pace of the game, and his usually precise use of the ball let him down big time.
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As per Whoscored, he has a passing accuracy of 81% in the Premier League this season, but on Saturday lunch-time, that dropped to a disappointing 75% – a stat compounded by the fact he was hustled off the ball far too easily, losing possession an incredible 24 times (the joint-second most in his entire team). He completed just five of his ten attempted long balls, whilst his trademark in-swinging crosses also let him down, failing to successfully complete both of his attempts.
His defensive tenacity also deserted him against the Hornets, making just one tackle over the course of the 90 minutes, and failing to make a single interception. The fact he was also dribbled past twice just went to show how off-the-pace he was.
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As his captain, it may be a difficult decision for Klopp to feel like he should take him out of the firing line. But Henderson isn’t a robot, and with this busy Christmas schedule, he like all of his other teammates deserves a chance to just take a breather.