Liverpool’s change from a 4-2-3-1 system to a 3-5-2 formation has worked well for Brendan Rodgers this season, with the Anfield boss seemingly getting the best out his squad as a result.
The Merseysiders can field their SAS strike force, play three central defenders and make the most of attacking full-backs.
However, for the system to work, Liverpool need to retain control in midfield, and a strong character is needed alongside Steven Gerrard to guarantee this.
Obviously Rodgers will select Gerrard’s partner based on form, whether the Reds are at home or away and taking into consideration the quality and personnel of the opposition. He may play all three in the centre of the park in tough away games, like he did at Arsenal on Saturday.
However, with Coutinho’s creative influence needed centrally, in the ideal Liverpool team there is only space for either Lucas or Henderson.
It is a signal of just how far Henderson has come that he is gauged as a viable pretender to Lucas’ place, as the Brazilian was previously one of the Merseyside club’s top performers, while the ex-Sunderland man took time to settle in.
Lucas is the more defensive minded of the two, and up until serious injuries was a lynchpin in the Liverpool side. The ex-Gremio man was a consistent performer, breaking up opposition attacks and shining on statistics for winning tackles, interceptions and pass completion.
However, since his return Lucas has not had the same devastating impact on opposition attacks, and looks to be still regaining full fitness and confidence. It appears that sprightliness in his step has disappeared and, like against Arsenal at the weekend, he is not as effective as he once was.
Henderson on the other hand continues to do his part to justify his place in the side. The England international has overcome doubters and looks a more assured player of late. The 3-5-2 system obviously suits him as he gets to play centrally rather than wide, and he has worked well in tandem with Gerrard.
The box-to-box man’s determination and drive is not dissimilar to attributes that his more-experienced team-mate has made a career out of, and Henderson is clearly progressing under Rodgers.
It is an ideal situation for Liverpool to be in, as they now have three quality central midfielders capable of dominating opposition, and that is before talented-but-unlucky Joe Allen is even mentioned.
Despite many factors coming into the equation, it is my contention that Henderson’s form and noticeable improvement over the last six to twelve months means that he will be selected more often than not, with Lucas potentially missing out as a result.
Liverpool fans have your say – who should Rodgers predominantly pick – Lucas or Henderson?
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