Whilst the likes of Roberto Firmino and Philippe Coutinho may make most of the headlines for Jurgen Klopp’s rampant Liverpool, the performances of Jordan Henderson are indicative of a player whose transformation into one of Europe’s elite is nearly complete.
Under Jurgen Klopp, Henderson has moulded into the focal point of Liverpool’s midfield. He is now the man his players look for in possession, and the one who looks to win it back for his team.
He has completed 965 passes this season so far, 175 more than any other player in the Premier League. To put that into context, 175 passes is the same amount that Pedro has mustered all season. He also ranks second in the league for successful tackles with 38 at 46%.
Liverpool had to work hard for their 2-0 win against Sunderland on Saturday, not scoring until the 75th minute through Divock Origi, yet Henderson’s accomplished performance was integral to ensuring Liverpool maintained control of the fixture throughout. With a pass completion rate of 91%, his 116 completed passes is the most in the league this season, beating his own total of 115 against Burnley.
Henderson completed 116 passes against Sunderland, more than any player in any Premier League match this season
He also created five chances, assisting Origi’s goal, and won four of his five tackles in what was a typical all action display from the England midfielder. A look at Henderson’s performance in the same fixture last season shows us just how much he has developed in the past few months.
The two matches followed a similar pattern, with Liverpool dominating possession in both. Henderson, however, had less of an impact in the 2-2 draw last season. He completed just 65 passes in that game, which significantly was his second highest tally in any match last season. This term it would rank 8th out of their 13 games so far.
He also squandered possession three times with long-range efforts. Klopp’s presence has seen Henderson doing this far less often; last season he averaged 1.81 shots per game, compared to 0.78 this season. Considering Liverpool as a team are generally have far more shots this season compared to last (19.38 to 16.55) this is a huge shift in mentality from the the ex-Sunderland player.
Henderson ranks highly amongst some of the Premier League’s best midfielder; top for both passes and tackles per 90 mins
There are similarities to be drawn between Henderson’s play this season and a midfielder who Klopp made so successful in his time at Dortmund. Nuri Sahin, having been brought in on loan from Liverpool, had a fantastic campaign in the 2013/14 season. As with Henderson this season, Sahin ranked highly in both attacking and defensive metrics, namely interceptions, tackles and chances created.Henderson has improved on last season, and can be compared to players who were a success under Klopp at Dortmund
The impact Klopp had on Sahin that season cannot be underestimated, with the Turk featuring infrequently for Dortmund since the manager’s departure. With both players though, Klopp was able to take something of a blank canvas and turn them into the player that his high-intensity system requires. Adept at both maintaining possession and winning it back, this central player in the midfield three is the one who enables the skilful attackers to function.
Much was made of Lallana’s injury and how his absence would hurt Liverpool, but so far they have coped well. With Coutinho now set to be sidelined there are concerns about Liverpool’s ability to deal with his loss too, yet the player that they cannot afford to be sidelined is their captain Henderson. No other player in their ranks has been afforded such attention from the manager, and Liverpool will be hoping he can continue his rich vein of form.
With such proficient passing and tackling stats, Klopp’s team will continue to dominate teams with Henderson in their midfield. Both player and manager deserve massive credit for an individual’s transformation that could define Liverpool’s season.