Liverpool V Crystal Palace: Energetic Jordan Henderson Sets the Tone

Mark Jones@@Mark_Jones86Featured ColumnistOctober 5, 2013

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - SEPTEMBER 21:  Jordan Henderson of Liverpool in action during the Barclays Premier League match between Liverpool and Southampton at Anfield on September 21, 2013 in Liverpool, England.  (Photo by Clive Brunskill/Getty Images)
Clive Brunskill/Getty Images

It was an afternoon where Liverpool seemed determined to restrict their effort to short, sharp bursts.

Gone are the early season performances which resulted in messy, sometimes fraught 1-0 wins that owed much to a persistence as anything else.

Now the Reds are looking to win as quickly and efficiently as possible, with Crystal Palace the team caught in the crossfire this weekend following on from Sunderland's lead last, as both ended up on the wrong end of 3-1 scorelines.

At the Stadium of Light it took eight minutes for the hosts to be blown apart.

That was the time between the first-half goals scored by Daniel Sturridge and Luis Suarez, but this time the order was reversed and the time was halved.

From the moment that Suarez skilfully put the Reds in front despite slipping as he slalomed his way past three visiting defenders this game was only going one way, a fact emphasised by Sturridge's fine finishthe type of goal that you'd suspect he scores every day in trainingfour minutes later.

Liverpool were so far on top that they almost didn't really need Steven Gerrard's penalty to make it 3-0the captain's 99th Premier League goal but one which hardly registered a smile from himbut sure enough it soon arrived. The effort they were putting in almost demanded it.

Yet Palace could feel somewhat hard done by to be three down; their determined effort proving admirable but not quite enough to deal with the Red hurricane which intermittently knocked at their door.

That hurricane would eventually become nothing more than a stiff breeze come full-time, but when it was at its strongest the wind in the sails was provided by a metronomic force in Liverpool's No. 14 shirt.

In the absence of the suspended Lucas Leiva, Jordan Henderson was shifted infield to partner Gerrard, and he performed admirably well.

From being the odd man out at Anfield the Englishman has grown into the almost the first man in, with his recent right-sided role altered here to great effect.

Henderson set the tone for the short, sharp bursts of energy which sealed this win due to his diligent midfield play, his constant closing down and his sheer willingness to charge around the field when others would be gasping for air.

This won't be the toughest game he'll ever playand the same can be said of his teammates toobut if anyone seemed to grasp just what Liverpool seemed to aiming for in this game it was Henderson, who thrived in the increased responsibility of his role.

This was very much a "turn up and do your job" type of win, and Henderson can be described as that type of footballer too.

Both he and the rest of his teammates will know that these are the results that make up a fair old percentage of good seasons, and given that it was one which secured the club's place back at the top of the table then you'd have to say Liverpool are having one of those at the moment.

There were negatives, of course; the unconvincing performances of wing-backs Jose Enrique and Raheem Sterling, the failure to create much for large periods of the second half and the concession of Dwight Gayle's consolation being the chief ones, but no one should dwell on them for very long.

In fact, Liverpool seemed to have forgotten about this game when they were still playing in it, such was their control and the intensity of those short, sharp bursts that proved so crucial.

There will come a time and opposition when they are not enough of course, and a more sustained effort will be required.

Luckily enough for Liverpool though, they've got a pretty lofty position from which to look out for them.


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