Henderson a bigger loss than Gerrard for Liverpool’s trip to Spurs
It will be head in hands time for many Liverpool fans, following the news that Steven Gerrard will be out for up to six weeks with a hamstring strain. However, it is the possible absence of Jordan Henderson that could prove most costly ahead of the visit to White Hart Lane to face Tottenham.
Gerrard will be a big miss in the centre of Brendan Rodgers’ midfield, as he tops the clubs statistics for average passes per game, while no other Liverpool player has performed as many key passes.
Joe Allen is the natural replacement for Gerrard and what the former Swansea man lacks in penetrative passing, he makes up for in an ability to maintain possession.
Keeping the ball for long periods will be of great use in trying to nullify Spurs and with Allen and Lucas Leiva in the double pivot, this should allow Liverpool to dictate possession effectively.
Leaving out central defenders, who largely pass to each other under little pressure, Allen and Lucas have the highest pass success rates at Liverpool this season.
However, with two passers from deep positions in the team, the onus will be on the front four to create the majority of chances, with added pressure on the number 10 to not only influence play in the final third, but also link the midfield and attack.
Henderson’s energy in the midfield is one of his unsung qualities and his enthusiasm and drive are ideal for performing such a duty.
There is not anyone else in the Liverpool squad that appears capable of replicating this role in his absence, with Philippe Coutinho the logical choice to move in-field into the central playmaking position.
Whether he would perform the defensive dirty work remains to be seen, like say Oscar at Chelsea, and there is a risk of Liverpool getting overrun in midfield, especially if Paulinho or Mousa Dembele are given freedom to break from deep positions for Spurs.
There is a chance that Henderson will be passed fit to face Tottenham and his ball pressing and knack of causing passes to be misplaced could be critical in Liverpool getting a result.
Tottenham’s odds are 6/4 to beat Liverpool and this already looks a big price, given they have won four of the last six meetings between the pair.
But should Henderson not end up passing a fitness test, this will prove one of the strongest prices of the whole Premier League season.
Liverpool are 9/5 at present to beat Tottenham, with the draw on offer at 23/10.