Following Saturday's dismal draw against Aston Villa, a bit of soul searching seems in order for Liverpool's players and coaches. For Jordan Henderson, owner of an unspectacular though largely solid outing, the focus is on shoring up the defence and looking for positives despite that Liverpool could find themselves out of the top four when the latest round of Premier League action ends.
"Credit to Villa as they came with a game plan and their tactics in the first 20 to 30 minutes were working," said Henderson following Saturday's exceptionally poor showing at Anfield. "We found it difficult to play and weren't at our best. They had a lot of bodies in and around the middle for the flick ons off Benteke. It was difficult to cope with at times.
"We have to defend better as a team. It's not just about the back four and the keeper, it's the whole team. I'm sure that's something we will work on. When we changed the formation we dealt with things better and got ourselves back in the game. Having got back to 2-2 with over half an hour left, we wanted to kick on and find a winner but we just couldn't get it."
While Henderson is certainly showing his leadership qualities by seeking to shoulder a part of the blame, the reality is that Saturday's failings are owed almost entirely to manager Brendan Rodgers' midfield miscalculation—one he appears set on making again in the coming weeks. Henderson, though, is less concerned with casting blame than in trying to find some kind of silver lining.
"We're disappointed," he admitted. "We want to go into every game and win it. Unfortunately, we couldn't do that but the good thing is that from 2-0 down we showed our character and our fight. We showed that we didn't want to be beaten. Villa beat us 3-1 here last season and we were beaten away to Stoke last season. If you look at it that way then it's an improvement."
It may be an improvement, but with tough matches against Everton and Arsenal on the horizon, it was a match Liverpool could ill afford to drop points in. Now, if Everton beat West Bromwich Albion today, the blue half of Merseyside will leapfrog Liverpool into fourth and set up a must-win derby match in eight days.