The 4-2-3-1 system appears to get the very best out of Jordan Henderson. And that’s incredibly important for Liverpool right now.
The injury to Virgil van Dijk kicks up a lot of questions at Liverpool right now. Joel Matip’s injury adds even more. For one, it means Fabinho is essentially a centre-half right now.
And if he’s playing there, who plays holding midfield? The easy answer is Jordan Henderson, who enjoyed a fantastic spell there last season. But then Henderson is playing a completely defensive role – Liverpool won’t want that either.
Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain is injured, Naby Keita hasn’t played well this season, and Thiago is missing every other game. Liverpool need Henderson going forward, too, and may have found the answer.
Henderson played very well against Sheffield United. Jurgen Klopp started with a 4-2-3-1 system, using Henderson alongside Gini Wijnaldum as a midfield two.
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That allowed Henderson to spend most of the game covering the defence but with the security of a midfielder alongside him. It means the captain can push forwards from time to time and that was vital on Saturday.
Defensively, he did the job Liverpool needed. His three interceptions were the most in the game, while he was one of the few Liverpool players who wasn’t tackled.
And Henderson effectively created the first goal with a fantastic cross. He whipped the ball to find Sadio Mane in space, whose saved header was tapped in by Roberto Firmino.
Henderson, a £20m signing in 2011, nearly created another chance for Mane, too, with a wonderful through-ball that proved just too long. But it’s this type of passing and creativity in the final third that Liverpool lack when Henderson is the sitting player in a 4-3-3.
But 4-2-3-1 gives Henderson the licence and security to move forwards. At at time when he has to cover for Fabinho, and when so many are out, that dual-role is vital for Liverpool.