Michael Owen and Rio Ferdinand were among the pundits to highlight the outstanding performance of Jordan Henderson in Liverpool’s win over Rangers on Tuesday night.
Henderson was singled out for praise post-match, after the club captain thrived in a double-pivot role alongside Thiago Alcantara, as Jurgen Klopp mixed things up a little by playing all four of his main attacking options in a 4-2-3-1 formation.
As well as showing off his great passing range, his defensive performance was also highlighted, with the 32-year-old linking up well with Alexander-Arnold.
‘I think he’s just a really intelligent football player,’ Rangers legend Ally McCoist told BT Sport.
‘He can sniff out danger, he can sit in the little holes when he needs to. He can get himself forward, he can finish and as we’ve seen on occasions tonight, he’s still an excellent passer of the ball.’
Owen was similarly impressed and went one step further by backing Henderson for a starting spot in Gareth Southgate’s England team for the World Cup.
‘We’re not inundated with great players in that position, that sitting midfielder, disciplined role,’ the legendary Liverpool striker said.
‘Of course, Declan Rice is a shoo-in, he’s going to play. Kalvin Phillips is injured at the moment and it’s not a short-term injury.
‘Who do you look at beyond them? Henderson has got to be in with a shout. He gets the best out of others as well, he’s a selfless player. Just the perfect captain.’
For Liverpool, attention now turns to the Premier League and a trip to leaders Arsenal on Sunday, and whether or not Klopp will keep the same line-up.
‘It will make him [Klopp] think about whether he should [stick with the same XI],’ Owen added.
‘Fabinho’s been one of the poorer players this season, but I do agree it’s really brave to stick four of them against an Arsenal team that are flying at the moment.
‘But tonight will give him some confidence in thinking maybe for the future I might do that. He’s got so many good attacking players.’
Manchester United legend Ferdinand veered on the side of caution, though still commended Henderson, saying: ‘He’s someone who enjoys the responsibility. He’s grown into being the captain of this football club.
‘I think Fabinho plays against Arsenal. He’s fantastic in the defensive midfield area. He’s been a mainstay, so I can’t see him not coming in and playing.
‘Having those four attacking players against this particular opposition was perfect but I think Arsenal are a totally different proposition and they won’t be able to go out there and play as freely or expansively as they did today.’
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