15 June 2011

Passing Wheel – Jordan Henderson

As actual news is sparse with the silly season in full flow (yes, I know it's barely mid-June), I thought I'd bring back the quasi-informative passing wheel (previously highlighted: Lucas and Gerrard) to take a look at three of Jordan Henderson's best games from the previous season.

The links will take you to the actual Guardian chalkboard for each game.

1) 3-0 at Chelsea (4-4-2 CM)

A fairly stereotypical, balanced central midfield performance. Not overly adventurous, with more passes in the 2nd quadrant, but diligent, with the majority of his passing moving play forward and a 78% completion percentage. His riskier passes – not necessarily a good idea at Stamford Bridge, even if your side is somehow running riot – were usually unsuccessful, but most attempts were the short "ticking over" passes so frequently derided. And those passes played a key part in handing Chelsea its worst home defeat since 2002, Sunderland's first win over the Blues in a decade.

2) 1-0 v West Ham (4-4-2 RM)1

And a fairly stereotypical right-midfield performance. That 80% of his passes were to his left is little surprise: on the flank, Henderson passed infield to the central midfielders, looked for long-range diagonals, and crossed in the final third. There are far more backward passes, in the 3rd and 4th quadrants, mainly to bring the right-back into play or reset with the central defenders. His completion percentage is lower than usual at 68% (season average: 78%), but he also attempted more difficult passes than in the other two examples.

Incidentally, this game featured Henderson's first goal of the season, cutting inside to run into the box, smartly slamming home a centered ball from the flank. He didn't do that nearly enough – as he admits – scoring just twice more in 2010-11, both coming against Wigan in April.

3) 4-2 v Wigan (4-4-2 RM)2

This is the one that interests me the most. Here's his two goals: the first after a sustained build-up, the second on the break, both from the middle of the penalty area after coming infield from the flank.

Ostensibly still a 4-4-2, in midfield with Cattermole, Colback and Sessegnon, nearly all of Henderson's passes came in the opposition half. The performance, while "less involved" than ideal (attempting just 28 passes in open play), seems almost prototypical for an attacking midfielder in Dalglish's 4-2-2-2 system. It bears more than a slight resemblance to what Liverpool's Portuguese midfielder did a week later on the right against Newcastle.

1 Not included are seven corners (three successful, four unsuccessful) and two throw-ins counted on the Guardian chalkboard.
2 Not included are seven corners (two successful, five unsuccessful) and one throw-in counted on the Guardian chalkboard.


Keith C said...

Not related to Henderson, but any guesses as to why Liverpool seem to have no interest in bringing Aquilani back into the fold? I'm aware that Liverpool currently have a crowded midfield, and that there still may be more additions on the way. Are his wages so high that they're going to end up selling him for less than half of what they initially paid for him? Seems to me that keeping him and rotating him with the other midfield options is a better deal than selling him for ~$15 (which is, admittedly, nothing more than a speculated price).

nate said...

Three guesses (and it's probably some combination of the three):

1) Value for money (wages) for a soon-to-be 27 year old. Wages are rumored to be around £70k per week.
2) Player doesn't want to come back to England (didn't like it, no Benitez, whatever).
3) Dalglish/Comolli/FSG don't want him.

Liverpool still owe somewhere around €5m to Roma by the end of the month, the final installment of his €20m fee. Which is why Juve low-balled an offer around that amount. I assume LFC would prefer to sell him before needing to pay Roma.