It’s Hendo Time
Southgate appointment is music to Hendo’s ears
Jordan Henderson has had a good few days. The Liverpool midfielder was given a well-earned rest and allowed to put his feet up on the bench, as the Reds booked their Efl Cup semi-final spot by defeating Leeds United, following on from a man of the match display against Sunderland at the weekend. However, the icing on the cake was surely the news that Gareth Southgate had been confirmed as the new England manager, bearing in mind that it was the former Boro boss who had bestowed the ultimate honour on Henderson, by making him captain of the England side for the recent international with Slovenia.
Hendo is the type of player that divides opinion. He is much maligned in places and several social media platforms went into meltdown when the captaincy news broke but his workmanlike approach is appreciated in other quarters, so it actually comes as something of a surprise to see that the former Sunderland player has actually completed more passes than any other player in the current Premier League season.
But there is more – Henderson is actually mixing it with the cream of Europe, as illustrated in the Oulala infographic below.
Henderson is completing around 20 more passes per games from previous seasons, so when a player displays such a marked statistical improvement, any astute fantasy football manager should delve deeper to try to ascertain if any advantage can be gained from it.
Liverpool’s passing stats
Not many people would have envisaged this Liverpool side going toe to toe with a Pep Guardiola side in the possession stakes but that is precisely what is happening. Manchester City edge it in terms of overall ball control with 60.9% to 59% but the Reds have completed more passes than the Manchester club in total.
This is a big improvement on Jürgen Klopp’s first season in charge, when the Reds averaged a respectable 55% and the underlying reason seems to be the switch to a stable 4-3-3 formation. Last season Klopp tried a few variations as he attempted to instill his ‘gegenpressing’ approach on his new charges.
He now seems to have found the perfect balance and other players such as Dejan Lovren are also completing far more passes per game as Liverpool look to win the ball back as quickly as possible before playing quick, short passes that enable them to use the abundance of attacking pace that is now present in the squad, to such devastating effect.
From a fantasy football perspective, Henderson’s overall potential might have devalued. Playing the pivotal role in a midfield three has seen a decline in his shots per game, while his eagerness to win the ball back as also resulted in more cautions. 3 assists is a respectable figure at this stage of the season and he continues to make a telling contribution in terms of key passes but his goal-scoring potential is likely to suffer, only getting himself on the score-sheet once so far, with that wonder-strike against Chelsea.
He might be Gareth’s man but for him to become a fantasy ‘must-have’ and find his way onto your team-sheet, you will probably need to be participating in games where advanced scoring systems reward specific facets of the game!