Liverpool midfielder Jordan Henderson made his first appearance for the Reds against Hull on Saturday and although the Merseyside club were on the wrong end of a 3-0 defeat, the former Sunderlandplayer stood out as the best performer of the new signings on show.
At 21 years of age, Henderson already has an assuredness on the ball which belies his years. In many ways he is a Liverpool style player, and more importantly one that Kenny Dalglish believes can be a crucial player for the club for years to come. The crucial reason why he is so highly thought of, in my opinion, is the fact he is always looking to make something happen on the ball.
For sure it was only one pre-season friendly against a Championship side where a real competitive match intensity was lacking, but it was also a feature of Henderson’s play, playing for Sunderland last season, that he would always see what’s on before he makes a pass.
Considering it was only his first pre-season friendly too, he already looked more alert than some of his team mates who had two pre-season matches under their belts already, and what I think attracted Dalglish to Henderson particularly was his ability to use possession both wisely and positively.
Last season, he created 82 chances (classed as shots on target) for team mates, the fifth highest in the league in total. This was even despite having a drop in form in the second half of the season for Sunderland.
One of my favourite passes in the compilation above is at 1:35 when he strikes an accurate diagonal ball to the feet of Stewart Downing who proceeded to cross the ball into the box. Hopefully we will see a lot more of this sort of passing next season, to unleash Downing and Suarez down the flanks to trouble the opposition defence.
Although his positive passing was certainly the most encouraging part of the performance, his off the ball play was nearly as impressive. As the central tenet of Liverpool’s style of play, pass and move, Henderson moved very well off the ball after making a positive contribution on the ball. On more than one occasion in the match versus Hull, he showed himself in space, by making forward runs beyond the attacking line, demonstrating again that he is always looking to make something happen in the final third.
Of course, it was only one friendly, and I am sure we will see some flaws in Jordan’s game as the season progresses, as after all he is only 21, but what really stands out about Henderson, is his attacking intent, something no doubt both King Kenny and Damien Comolli pinpointed when they first offered Sunderland a sizeable fee for the player.
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