COMMENT By Emma Sanders
Liverpool need Jordan Henderson to return against Manchester United more than they need Philippe Coutinho.
The skipper was ruled out of Wednesday’s EPL Cup semi-final defeat against Southampton and his absence was huge for Liverpool, so it’s crucial he returns against Manchester United.
Henderson has become a key member of Jurgen Klopp’s first team this season and Liverpool’s poor performance against the Saints exposed huge concerns in midfield.
In his absence, Emre Can and Lucas Leiva formed a central midfield partnership and they were unable to create tempo or break-down Southampton’s play.
Henderson brings experience and composure to a midfield which lacked both of those qualities during the 1-0 defeat and those traits will be crucial against Manchester United.
The two teams will go head-to-head in Sunday’s blockbuster fixture and it promises to be a feisty encounter with plenty of attacking quality on show.
United will pose a threat through the middle with Paul Pogba and Juan Mata so it’s crucial Liverpool play their best holding midfielder – which has clearly been Henderson this season.
He has made more tackles than any other Liverpool player in 2016-17 (74 in total) and he has been key to maintaining possession for his side – producing the most passes in the entire Premier League.
Henderson knows what it is like playing in a United-Liverpool derby too having featured in 14 total clashes throughout his Reds career and he has played them more than any other team since moving to Merseyside.
His experience will be crucial on Sunday so it’s important he recovers in time to start.
In other Liverpool news, Klopp has issued a hands off warning on Coutinho.