During Liverpool’s 2-1 win at Villa Park on Sunday, I was surprised to hear the co-commentator Alan Smith award the man of the match honour to Steven Gerrard.
Sure, the Liverpool captain scored the winner (which was his second in three league games after three-and-a-half years without one) and acrobatically cleared a goal bound shot off the line, but overall I felt he didn’t contribute as much as Jordan Henderson did.
The Tomkins Times run a stats round up after every match (the latest of which you can read here, if you’re a subscriber), where they list the top three Liverpool performers for various stats. Surprisingly, Henderson didn’t feature anywhere, so it seems his performance was based on a solid performance in a variety of areas, rather than shining in one.
I’ve checked the former Sunderland man’s stats, and they certainly read like he had a hugely impressive performance. For instance:
Passing – Hendo was unlucky to miss out on a top three spot, as he only attempted three fewer than third-placed Lucas, and at 88% accuracy he out performed the three listed in that regard. Although Jordan wasn’t too involved in the final third, he did have the Reds’ highest passing accuracy for the Villa half of the pitch – 84%.
Shooting – Just the one shot, but he certainly made it count! Not for him the wasteful shooting of Glen Johnson (3/3 blocked) or Stewart Downing (3/4 blocked). You can see below on the diagrams (taken from Squawka) that both of Liverpool’s right sided players made terrible decisions when opting to shoot. The short distance that the shots travelled indicates clearly that there wasn’t decent enough space to get a shot on target, especially when considering the distance they were shooting from:
Plus of course Henderson’s goal came as a result of one of football’s great unmeasureables: the perfectly timed run into space. The picture below demonstrates this beautifully:
Creativity – Henderson set up teammates with shooting opportunities three times, which is how many top chance creators average per game, and they all came in open play (whereas some players like Gerrard, or Baines at Everton, boost their tallies with set-piece chances).
Possession – Jordan only lost possession twelve times in the whole match, and made a whopping six interceptions (which is very impressive considering that the top performers in Europe’s big five leagues average around four per game).
On top of all of this, Henderson now has three goals and two assists in his last seven league starts, and he’s only played the full ninety minutes in three of those matches.
To be honest, it baffles me as to why he hasn’t played more, especially considering that Joe Allen has been carrying an injury. I certainly hope Henderson plays in all of Liverpool’s remaining games, and remains at Anfield for years to come.