The key reason for Liverpool fans to be optimistic ahead of next season

Jordan Henderson has been mightily impressive during his recent spell as Liverpool captain.

Steven Gerrard may be leaving Liverpool at the end of the season, but there is plenty of cause for optimism if you are a supporter of the Merseyside outfit. Not only are the Reds enjoying their classic second semester surge under Brendan Rodgers, but youngster Jordan Henderson is enjoying an extremely fruitful spell as stand-in captain.

Signed at 19 years of age, for £23 million, during Kenny Dalglish's brief second managerial spell at the club, the Englishman endured a difficult start to life with the Premier League giants. Nevertheless, Rodgers' arrival on Merseyside has seen Henderson, now 24 years old, grow from strength to strength, to the extent that he is now touted as the club's next permanent skipper.

Henderson has shown his desire to lead his side throughout recent months, and it is fair to say he has been integral to the club's impressive league form. His two goals in the Reds' last appearances alone, have helped secure vital victories over Manchester City and Burnley, maintaining the Merseyside outfit's quest for Champions League football with fantastic effect.

In fact, of those who have held the title for two or more games, Henderson has the best win percentage as captain in the Premier League this season. The Anfield side are unbeaten in 13 matches when Henderson has skippered the side; an impressive feat for the midfielder, who has experienced a miraculous rise to first team prominence since his early days at the club.

If Liverpool fans need any further reassurance ahead of next season, then the following statistic should also ease a few nerves. Indeed, Liverpool have taken 2.8 points per Premier League game when Steven Gerrard has not started this season, compared to 1.4 when he has.

At first, news of the former England captain's departure will have rattled a few cages, but it is fair to say the club have evolved excellently. Now, having taken 29 points from 11 Premier League games, Rodgers finds his side at the summit of the European form table, with a genuine chance of a top four finish, or higher.

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