After Emre Can played so well against Stoke last week, many Liverpool fans were hoping to see him get named in the starting XI against Bournemouth. However, he began his second game in a row on the bench, and when he was introduced in the 51st minute, it was not under the best of circumstances. He replaced Liverpool captain Jordan Henderson who, up until that point, had been having a decent game. The change was forced, then, instead of tactical, and left people wondering why Henderson had been taken off when Adam Lallana and Jordon Ibe were having less than impressive games.
The most logical assumption was that Henderson had somehow sustained an injury, and in his post-match interview, manager Brendan Rodgers confirmed this, stating that the skipper had hurt his foot in training earlier in the week.
"He had a problem with the bottom of his foot," said Rodgers. "He hadn't trained for part of the week. He was taking some painkillers with it, and did ever so well to even be out on the field. He wanted to give it a go, but you could see he was limited in his running. He did great for us when he was on the pitch, but it's important we have fit players on the field, and unfortunately he was just in too much pain."
Though he only played little more than a half, and was apparently in some discomfort the whole time, Henderson still managed to set up Christian Benteke for the only goal of the game. He also controlled much of the distribution in the center of the pitch. His exit saw Liverpool concede the midfield, as Emre Can didn't show the same organizational skills, nor did he have the same chemistry with vice-captain James Milner.
It's unknown the extent of Henderson's injury and whether it will force him out of contention when the Reds travel to the Emirates Stadium next Monday to take on Arsenal. This could potentially be a blow to a Liverpool side that hasn't looked particularly confident in their first two games. With Lucas frozen out of the squad, questions arise as to how Liverpool could set up without Henderson or the still-injured Joe Allen. It would likely be Can slotting into the skipper's vacated spot, but only time will tell what Brendan Rodgers decides to do. Of course, all speculation may be unnecessary, as it's still entirely possible that Henderson will be available come Monday.
Liverpool need to make a statement against Arsenal if they want to put themselves into the conversation for top four this season. Their unconvincing victories against Stoke and Bournemouth, while earning the team all six points, have not impressed. Arsenal also have yet to hit top form, but even when they struggle, the likes of Sanchez, Özil, and Giroud only require a moment of brilliance to cause real damage. Liverpool will need to be at their best if they want to get a result against the Gunners, and the skipper is an important piece of that puzzle.