13 Oct 2016

Anfield Smackdown: Keown slams €35m Liverpool 'playmaker' and claims he's getting 'worse' for England

After a man-of-the-match winning performance against Malta, Jordan Henderson struggled to impose himself against Slovenia,, and Arsenal legend Martin Keown is the latest pundit to criticise the Liverpool and England skipper.

In his column for the Daily Mail today, Keown highlighted Henderson's 'mistakes' against Slovenia, and offered the following withering assessment of his performance:

"Captaining your country should make you play better, not worse. Henderson's most frequent pass against Slovenia was back to Gary Cahill. He's supposed to be our playmaker".

Keown further explained:

"If you are being pressed high and you keep passing across or backwards, the attackers can contain you. When you play it beyond the players pressing, you take them out of the game".

Short-termism is rife in football punditry, and it's amusing how quickly opinions change. Three days before the Slovenia game, the media feted and lionised Henderson for his man-of-the-match performance (albeit against poor opposition). Three days later, and he is suddenly not good enough. That's the fickleness of football for you.

Keown makes a prescient point though: one way to defeat counter-pressing high up the field is to bypass the midfield altogether (via quality, accurate passing into feet, and/or long balls into the box), and that is a strategy that Liverpool have struggled to combat under Jurgen Klopp.

To be honest, I'm surprised that more teams haven't incorporated this strategy when playing against Liverpool.

€35m-rated (CIES Football Observatory.


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