Jordan Henderson has been a key figure in Liverpool’s Premier League title challenge. Signed from Sunderland for a reported £16 million in the summer of 2011, it is this season in which the 23-year-old midfielder has really come to the fore.
The England international had started all the league matches for the Reds until his dismissal against Manchester City on April 13. With the Merseyside outfit winning 3-2 against Manuel Pellegrini’s side at Anfield, Henderson lunged in on Samir Nasri in injury time and was shown a straight red card.
In the three matches that Liverpool have played without the former Sunderland man, they have won just once – 3-2 against Norwich City at Carrow Road. A disappointing 2-0 defeat to Chelsea was followed by a heart-breaking 3-3 draw at Crystal Palace on Monday – both games underlined just how important Henderson has become to Brendan Rodgers’ plans.
Having served his three-game suspension, Henderson will now return for Liverpool for their final match of the season against Newcastle United at Anfield on Sunday. He is expected to slot straight into the starting lineup and will hope to end the 2013-14 campaign with a flourish.
Despite his suspension, Henderson continued to train and travel with his Liverpool teammates as normal over the last month and he would have no problem in taking up his usual position in midfield.
‘To be honest, nothing changed for me’, he told the Liverpool Echo. ‘I trained as normal, travelled as normal, and was involved with the lads as normal as well. All that had changed was that I couldn't play in the games... I wanted to still be involved. Things would have been going through my head even more if I'd have been sat at home, and not there with the lads’.
There is still a small chance that Liverpool can win the Premier League title on Sunday. If the Reds defeat Newcastle at home and Manchester City are beaten by West Ham United at the Etihad Stadium, then they will be crowned champions of England for the first time in the Premier League era.
Would it be just a coincidence that this (unlikely) triumph would coincide with the return of Henderson?