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Video: Jordan Henderson v. Blackburn

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jordan henderson liverpool

Against Blackburn, Liverpool's man of the match performance came from an unlikely source. The surprise wasn't so much that it was delivered by Jordan Henderson—though even his strongest supporters would be hard pressed to point to previous games where he would have been the clear choice for such honours—as that it was delivered by Jordan Henderson after he was forced to play at right back.

Even before moving into defence, however, he was having one of his stronger games, showing a quality first touch, smart movement and positioning, and more ability to make a tackle than his critics would give him credit for. Of particular note was that while still in midfield he made a number of successful tackles where he stayed on his feet, reinforcing the idea that he isn't a player who likes going to ground. It's a style that can be a little harder to appreciate when you're looking for blood and thunder in defensive situations, but if done well it is infinitely preferable as it gives the player making the tackle a far better chance of recovering the ball under control.

He may never be a player you'd want as a lone defensive midfielder, but his ability to read teammates and the opposition and know when he has to either maintain positional responsibility or cover for someone who's gone walkabout may mean he's the best player currently at the club to pair with a more traditional holding player. Though perhaps, in time, he might even be able to develop a touch of defensive steel, at least if his performance on Tuesday after moving to right back is anything to go by.

When he was first moved he did show an occasional skittishness that was more than understandable given his switch to an unfamiliar position, but he quickly settled into the role. Certainly he handled Martin Olsson far better than Jon Flanagan had before he was taken off, and on the whole it might not even be a stretch to suggest he had as good a game in defence at right back as any Liverpool player has this season—though with the caveat that it came against a side adrift in the relegation zone.

Meanwhile, beyond the solid defensive showing, Henderson consistently looked better going forward from right back than he has at any time when played in more advanced wide positions. When it comes to better understanding the player and his particular skill-set, this is interesting as it reflects that at this stage in his career at least he may be far more comfortable facing goal and following play than he is when positioned in front of the ball. This would go a long way towards explaining why he often seems uncomfortable when pushed wide as a midfielder or winger, and one would hope that the coaching staff will use this information to get the most out of him moving forward.

Some have previously voiced their doubts about Jordan Henderson because he doesn't go to ground often enough or doesn't seem the sort to put the rest of the team on his back and drag them to victory. After a clearly stellar performance like Tuesday's, one imagines that any of these sorts of people who remain are unlikely to change their opinions any time soon. They will be quite thoroughly wrong in their stubbornness, though at the end of the day it is of course entirely their prerogative to be so.

Video by Mostar via Daily Motion.