Liverpool Focus – Versatile Henderson solving problems for Rodgers

When the summer transfer window came to a close at the beginning of September, there was a feeling among some Liverpool fans that the squad had been left short in a couple of key areas. In the attacking midfield position, for example, who would the Reds be able to turn to if the Brazilian magician Philippe Coutinho picked up an injury? The answer to that question, at least in the mind of manager Brendan Rodgers, appears to be on-loan winger Victor Moses, though the fact that the Chelsea midfielder has even been considered to play in that position indicates how few options the Anfield outfit have to play in behind a striker.

Liverpool are also rather light on options in the defensive midfield area of the pitch. Gone are the days when the Reds could rely on the likes of Xabi Alonso, Mohamed Sissoko and Javier Mascherano to play the holding role. Even Jay Spearing has been moved on to Bolton Wanderers, leaving just Lucas Leiva to play in front of the defence. However, when lowly Crystal Palace visited Anfield, Jordan Henderson was allowed to play in that position and the midfielder impressed in his new role.

Henderson made seven tackles, winning 71.4% of them, one block and four clearances. The former Sunderland star also made two interceptions, won over 90% of his duels – including a 100% success rate in the air. And with a pass accuracy of 92% from 75 passes – a higher percentage than any other midfielder on the pitch, Henderson was certainly involved in the game.

As the winter approaches and with it the January transfer window, the question on Rodgers’ mind will be whether he should invest further into the squad and if so, which positions need strengthening the most? Liverpool have many options at centre-back, two left-backs, some in-form strikers and good options in the wider areas. The arrival of a new right-back may be on the cards, but other than that only the two midfield positions mentioned above appear to be the ones which could do with freshening up.

But if money is not freely available to Rodgers in January, perhaps it would be more productive to use Henderson as a defensive midfielder more often and allow him to become the permanent challenger to Lucas’ position. The former Swansea boss is fortunate with Henderson in the sense that the young Englishman is versatile – since joining Liverpool he has play at right-back, on the right-wing, in defensive and central midfield and even in the No. 10 role. But given his energy and determination, the holding role may just be the position he can make his own if Rodgers is willing to give him the chance.

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