Liverpool reclaimed their place top the Premier League after winning 2-0 at Cardiff City on Sunday as Georginio Wijnaldum and James Milner provided the goals in south Wales.
Cardiff kept the game scoreless until the break but conceded to a Wijnaldum volley after the restart, and Milner came off the bench to convert a late penalty following Sean Morrison’s foul in the area.
The Reds are again two points in front of second-place Manchester Citybut have played a match more than their nearest title rivals.
Henderson’s New Role Vital to Liverpool’s Title Push
It’s about this stage of the season that weary legs and fatigue can start having a grave impact on any title push, so it’s hugely positive that Liverpool’s captain has come upon a rebirth so late in the campaign.
Jordan Henderson hasn’t been a guaranteed fixture in Jurgen Klopp’s XI for all of the German’s stay at Anfield. However, his recent push to have more of a say in the final third has rebranded the player in a way that will prove crucial over these remaining weeks of the season.
The manager said after Liverpool’s recent 2-0 UEFA Champions League win over Porto that he had been using his captain incorrectly until agreeing to entrust him with more attacking responsibilities, via Hayters TV:
Henderson recently revealed he asked Klopp to be pushed further up the field, and it showed again in Cardiff when it was his impetus initiating attacks that led to some of Liverpool’s best opportunities.
Klopp is fortunate to have the likes of Wijnaldum and Naby Keita among his ranks, multifaceted midfielders in their own right who can afford to let their skipper roam when it’s appropriate.
That malleable make-up among Liverpool’s middle three will be pivotal in the Reds’ remaining three league games. Sportswriter Brad Dobbing touched on the versatility Henderson was allowed to demonstrate on Sunday:
An attempt from the middle of the box in the 61st minute could have doubled Liverpool’s lead had Henderson not blazed it over the bar, though it’ll be encouraging for Reds fans to see him taking up those positions more regularly.
After failing to record a goal or an assist in all competitions until April, Henderson now has one goal and three assists in his last four games and was unfortunate not to add to that tally in Cardiff.
Journalist Andrew Beasley praised the former Sunderland star’s provisions during Wednesday’s 4-1 win away at Porto and compared it to one of Europe’s elite:
The player will turn 29 in June and has a contract at Anfield that doesn’t expire until June 2023, an agreement that looks all the more valuable if he can sustain his new-found form in the engine room.
Fabinho, Wijnaldum and Keita give Klopp an array of capable options at Liverpool’s core, and Henderson has upgraded from questionable starter to critical component in their title chase.
Liverpool have another bottom-three opponent in their sights when they play host to Huddersfield Town on Friday, while Cardiff will have a better chance of success when they travel to Fulham on Saturday.