Southampton 1-3 Liverpool – Captain Becomes a Saint
They’ve done it again.
Liverpool have been pegged back again and overcame it again. No matter what is thrown at them, they find a way of getting the job done. We’ve all grown up knowing and hearing that this is a title-winning trait that only the very best teams possess, yet this time, it’s been rebranded as “luck”, but not by me, not by us.
Liverpool are not lucky. They are probably the greatest team in the world which is hard to accept by many given how painfully average we were a mere 3 years ago. It is very difficult to believe that a team could rise this high in so short a period, given the comparatively little spending and while losing some of their biggest talents.
The main cause for undervaluing Liverpool’s excellence is the perceived ceiling of quality of the players. A number of these players were at the club 3 years ago, when most punters had made their mind up regarding their talents and we all know people don’t like to be proved wrong.
When opinions on footballers are made, they are rarely changed and every pre-Klopp player is still carrying that burden. So much so, that many people concluded last year that reaching a Champions League final was much easier than they had previously thought rather than acknowledge that those who got there were any good.
To quickly dispel that belief, it’s time we talked about the only current player in the Premier League to captain a side in a Champions League final, Jordan Henderson.
Jordan Henderson, despite being on the pitch for only 30 minutes, was the man of the match. He is the man we are all talking about at the end. He had a bigger influence on the game and our performance than any other.
His desire and energy from the minute he stepped on the pitch encouraged everyone around him. It was the perfect captain’s performance in that he raised the level of each individual which allowed us to gain control of the match, only then could we build our attack.
The game was too scrappy before his arrival. There was no link between defence and attack as the midfield couldn’t keep the ball and stop the Southampton pressure. Wijnaldum and Fabinho had arguably their worst games of the season for which Southampton deserve immense credit.
The moment control was regained by the Reds, all of the energy the Saints had thrown into the game for 60 mins began to show. Their legs suddenly felt much heavier when they were chasing Liverpool instead of the belief and adrenaline they showed previously that comes from nicking the ball and breaking with it.
This was compounded with Salah’s mesmerising finish that all but won the game. Henderson’s role in this was vital and exquisite. The header into Mo’s path required superb vision initially as Liverpool break at pace. The ability to spot the pass and then execute it at such speed is quite astonishing. The power and direction he gets behind it ensures Salah is away unopposed and Salah’s mind is made up for him.
If the pass is any weaker, Southampton have time to get players back as Salah’s back is to goal. Despite the sensational, individual run and finish, it’s a deserving assist for the captain.
Southampton are really feeling it now. The buoyant crowd have quietened and their left dead on their feet from the level of intensity shown earlier. The last thing they needed was this mad Mackem flying into challenges and picking up any loose balls and restarting Liverpool’s advances. All hope is gone, they’re at Liverpool’s mercy.
The third is a fantastically executed counter-attack that the weary Saints can’t get anywhere near in terms of quality and energy. Matip’s ball down the channel is perfectly weighted as the Southampton defence are forced to chase back again. They’re too tired to match Henderson’s lung-busting run as he points to where he wants it and Bobby delivers to pinpoint precision.
That celebration is directed at you by the way. He’s heard what you’ve said about him and he’s not happy. He’s giving you one last chance to get behind him and his lads before you regret it. You don’t want the only lad you’ve seen lift the Premier League for Liverpool to be one you hate or don’t rate. He’s not the best midfielder in the world but his importance to this team is undeniable.
If we do end up winning it, he would have put in enough great performances and played his part in enough victories to earn the big shiny medal round his neck. Porto next for the Mighty Reds and a convincing win there brings Hendo closer to another magnificent medal. See you on Tuesday
Here’s to you, Jordan Henderson.