Liverpool beat West Ham United on Monday in a game that offered a reminder about Jordan Henderson and Gini Wijnaldum.
Now only one of them played, of course. Henderson missed the game through injury and will reportedly miss the next few weeks. Wijnaldum did play, however, and certainly made his mark.
The Dutchman opened the scoring for Liverpool with a fine header. Trent Alexander-Arnold deserves plenty of credit for the cross, certainly, but Wijnaldum’s header was excellent.
Defensively, too, Wijnaldum was the only keeping control in midfield. He helped keep control by finishing with 98% pass completion – he only misplaced one (stats per Whoscored).
By comparison, Fabinho misplaced ten and Naby Keita four. Wijnaldum also won one tackle out of two – although, West Ham dribbled past him once. But even those stats look good.
Fabinho attempted seven tackles and only one three. West Ham dribbled past him four times and got past Keita three.
So not only did Wijnaldum score but he offered a more consistent control, too. It’s the reason we believe he’s the most complete box-to-box player around.
But it’s also a reminder of how good Henderson is, seeing as he wasn’t there. The captain oversaw a dramatic turnaround defensively for the team, as they went from two clean sheets in four months to ten in 11 games once he moved to holding midfield.
Henderson also managed two goals and three assists in the four games before his injury v Atletico Madrid. He can do both, too, and is one of the most influential players in the team.
And that goes to show just how lucky Liverpool are to have both. Their midfield features two players who can offer whatever Jurgen Klopp needs, be it a solid defensive, control over the game or goals and assists.
West Ham only had to deal with Wijnaldum but struggled to do so, and Henderson only makes that job even harder. Liverpool have certainly built a fantastic midfield thanks to this duo.