For so long he was unloved by the majority of the Liverpool faithful, but now Jordan Henderson has developed into the Reds’ perfect captain. On a night where Rafa Benitez was at the centre of this Merseyside derby, it was Henderson who stood up to lead his side to a handsome 4-1 victory.
His development as both a player and a leader since he moved to Anfield has been remarkable and even though there looked to be a large void after legendary captain Steven Gerrard departed, Henderson has stood up and made that role his own. Their first Premier League-winning captain, a Champions League-winning captain, and a captain, who like Gerrard, understands the importance of a Merseyside Derby.
At Goodison, he not only opened the scoring but was the beating heart of a Liverpool side that threatened to run riot on Toffee’s turf. In the opening minute, Joel Matip put a free header wide of the post and moments later Mo Salah missed a chance from six yards out after he went for a left-footed volley when a diving header would have surely opened the scoring. If Everton were after a positive start to get the crowd onside, this was not it.
Sadio Mane then cut the ball back for Salah to fire a ball at Jordan Pickford’s goal but the England number one made a terrific low stop to keep him out. However, before the ten-minute mark, he would be beaten, as Mane sprung the offside trap to feed Andy Robertson who in turn cut the ball back for his captain to wonderfully curl the ball in from the edge of the box.
Such was their dominance, Duncan Alexander noted that Liverpool clocked up more xG in the first 10 mins than Everton have had in four of their games this season - on the twenty-minute mark they doubled their lead.
This time Henderson turned provider as he fed a through ball to Salah in behind the Everton defence. From that right-hand channel, the Egyptian was clinical in front of goal and he beat Pickford to score. As the Amazon cameras showed some Everton fans leaving, their team took time to get to grips with the task ahead of them. They began to battle, they began to dig their heels in. A few minutes before the break Demarai Gray pulled a goal back, finishing through Alisson’s legs after Richarlison played him through.
Everton were far more spirited in the second period, but that hope evaporated with a Seamus Coleman mistake. He failed to control the ball on the halfway line and Salah was there to nip in, and sprint towards goal, before sliding the ball past the onrushing Pickford. From there, Liverpool never looked like letting this game get away from them and they added a fourth through in-form Diogo Jota.
He turned past Allan with great skill and then hammered the ball in at the near post and with that, the stadium emptied. The ones who stayed behind only did so to vent their frustration at Rafa Benitez and the team as the away end sang the name of their former manager.
One defeat in thirty games now for Liverpool who remain in third place after Manchester City beat Aston Villa 2-1 on Jack Grealish’s return to Villa Park, and league leaders Chelsea secure a 2-1 win at Vicarage Road. Elsewhere tonight, Burnley drew 0-0 at Wolves in their bid for survival, Southampton and Leicester played out a 2-2 draw and Brighton nicked a point at West Ham, despite being reduced to ten men through injury.
For the Reds, however, they look as strong as ever heading into the busy festive period, and with Henderson driving them forward, they will be contenders for all of the big trophies again this term.