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The Henderson factor – Three things we learnt as Liverpool lost to Chelsea in the FA Cup

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By Pranav Ravindrannair

Liverpool 0-2 Chelsea: Three things we learned as Jurgen’s Reds bow out

It was the third defeat in four as Liverpool continue to hit their stride after the winter break. Goals from Willian and Ross Barkley inflicted another defeat for the Reds who now are out of the reckoning for a treble.

A number of players failed to turn up while others showcased subtle improvements. We take a look at three things we have learned in the debacle at Stamford Bridge.

1. The kids have promise

One of the positives to come out of the match was the performances of Neco Williams and Curtis Jones. Williams was one of the Reds’ better players and made a number of crucial tackles and interceptions in the first half. He did fade as the game went on, but given his age, it should be taken as a learning curve rather than as a cause for concern.

Curtis Jones, on the other hand, made a few promising moves and looked assured on the ball. He wasn’t able to make a penetrating move and had less impact on the midfield than he has done in the past. matches such as these will help the youngster improve as he will not always have things his way.

Neco Williams Curtis Jones Liverpool
Neco Williams and Curtis Jones showed promise for Liverpool (Photo by Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images)

It has been a memorable year for the duo. Williams has three assists in five senior appearances in the Cups. He provided the cross for Divock Origi’s last-second leveler in the Carabao Cup clash against Arsenal. He also played a starring role as a young Reds side defeated Everton on a famous night at Anfield in the third round of the FA Cup.

The two games will also be remembered fondly by Jones. The midfielder scored the winning penalty against Arsenal and curled one into the top corner to down the Toffees in the latter.

The emergence of both the players will give Jurgen Klopp extra options in midfield and also at right-back. If Williams develops as expected it could also help Klopp move Trent Alexander-Arnold into midfield adding a penetrative presence in the Liverpool midfield.

Both the players might have been on the losing side yesterday, but they showed enough promise of being excellent players in the future.

2. Like it or not – Jordan Henderson makes a difference

Very few players have divided opinion among Liverpool fans like Jordan Henderson. The 29-year-old had the misfortune of succeeding Steven Gerrard as Liverpool captain. Anyone who took the Anfield legend’s mantle was bound to face comparisons.

Henderson to his credit has handled the comparisons-both good and bad, well indeed and has transformed himself into a crucial member of the Reds midfield.

As some unglamorous, his role largely goes unnoticed by the fans who prefer someone more dynamic or pleasing to the eye. It is a severe injustice to overlook the midfielder’s contribution. He is very well capable of making audacious passes and often does so, but it is his ability to be the anchor that lets others perform better that makes him go unnoticed.

Jordan Henderson
Jordan Henderson’s leadership was missed in midfield

How Liverpool could have done with it at Stamford Bridge. The Reds midfield looked lost and failed to influence the game whatsoever. The players seemed unsure of their roles and a wide chasm looked to exist between the strikers and the defense.

Henderson would surely have calmed things down and stepped in to ensure the Reds won back the midfield battle. A number of matches were won with consummate ease this season due to the midfielder’s ability to win the midfield early on.

Ever since his injury, Liverpool’s attack and defense have looked disjointed with the midfield unable to support either with conviction. The skipper lays the foundations for other players around him to shine and the sooner he returns, the sooner the Liverpool midfield will start ticking.

3. Takumi Minamino shows improvement

The Japanese playmaker has found opportunities hard to come by since his move in January. He has made just six appearances for the Reds and has failed to register a single goal or assist.

He is still coming to terms with the English game and is bound to take a while to impress. At Stamford Bridge, he showed glimpses of what he is capable of.

Takumi Minamino Liverpool
Takumi Minamino showed promise

The 25-year-old showed good ball control and presence of mind in closed situations and might have also grabbed a goal in other circumstances.

He made a number of promising moves and got into spaces. The finishing and the performance in the final third are still lacking. But this has been a promising outing for the playmaker as he looks to make his way into Klopp’s plans

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Minamino at times looks to be catering to the team rather than play his natural game. Although admirable, he will be better off playing as he usually does. In time the Japanese star should be able to connect better with his teammates and flourish at Anfield.