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Jordan Henderson: He's Better Than You Think

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Jordan Henderson isn't the second coming of Steven Gerrard, but he's still a valuable footballer.

Laurence Griffiths

A wise man once said to never review a footballer after an especially impressive performance because human opinions are often based on the recent past, but it's international break which means I'm doing it anyways.

Through three games, Jordan Henderson has on average received a 7.33 player rating from Anfield Asylum. Our ratings here are nowhere near scientific, but it's hard to argue against the production of Henderson in recent weeks.

The 23 year old is a tough player to discuss because of all the aspects that make up his identity as a footballer, with a few major talking points being his actual play, his potential, and of course the large transfer fee and inflated expectations. It's the first two points that I'd like to discuss in this article, as the transfer fee is a dead horse that doesn't need any more beating and the initial expectations placed upon Henderson, a 21 year old at the time, were downright ridiculous.

It might as well be on our mast head it has been said so much around here: Jordan Henderson is filled with energy but his technical ability lags behind the rest of his game. But is this really true anymore? I mean he passes well, sitting at an 84% clip on the season, and he doesn't commit many glaring turnovers. He is strong and fairly quick for a midfielder, meaning that teams like Stoke can't bully him off his game.

Henderson also has an underrated shot on him, narrowly missing some cracking goals this year after hitting the post with a fizzing effort against Stoke and being the victim of a sublime Begovic performance in goal. If anything, the knock on his shooting is that he doesn't aggressively seek out his shot enough.

Henderson's best trait is his versatility. He may not be at his best on the right wing but he can play passably there, and can play effectively as an attacking midfielder or central midfielder. I also get the sense that Henderson would make a good defensive midfielder should either Lucas or Gerrard miss time, with that inference coming from the games I saw of him in that position with the U-21 England team a couple years back.

The incisive pass is something we don't see too much from Hendo, but then again the through ball isn't exactly a staple of the Rodgers philosophy. I believe that the lack of through balls from the English international isn't so much an indicator of lack of skill, but rather the result of not enough aggressiveness and perhaps confidence. With the trust Rodgers is putting in Henderson at the moment, a boost of confidence may be forthcoming.

Henderson's foundational skills are solid and he isn't far off from becoming the impact player Liverpool are looking for him to be. He needs to be more consistent so he can hold onto his place in the first eleven, and beyond that, he must simply become more aggressive in his passing and shooting. Increased aggressiveness might be a natural progression for him as he further settles into the Premier League, but for a player that often appears timid to the casual observer, he may need to put special focus in this area. Obviously the carefulness with which he plays is one of his admirable virtues, but against weak opposition he needs to go for goal more and become a bit more adventurous with his forward passing. The ability is there and the results are starting to come, but for Henderson to take that next step he must begin trusting his natural talent a bit more.