By conspiring to draw a game in which they were cruising, against Crystal Palace, the title dream has seemingly crumbled for Liverpool, with stinging criticism heaped on their porous defence and much of it justified.
However, as much as the likes of Martin Skrtel and Mohamed Sakho were to blame for being sliced through like butter warmed in the microwave by a rampant Palace, an absent midfield which offered zero protection to them must shoulder equal responsibility.
As a result of their 3-3 draw at Palace, Liverpool’s title price has understandably shot out to 8/1, while Manchester City – who can now afford to draw one of their last two games and still win – are concrete 1/12 favourites.
Many detractors would argue that the chink in Liverpool’s armour – only five teams have conceded more away goals in the Premier League – was always going to cost them, but one man could have made a huge difference against both Chelsea and Palace.
Sent off for his last-minute lunge on Samir Nasri in their win over Manchester City, Jordan Henderson’s absence cannot be underestimated in Liverpool’s title capitulation.
Having played in every one of the previous 34 league games for Brendan Rodgers, Henderson’s midfield industry for the Anfield outfit is unparalleled.
No other player in Liverpool’s ranks can claim to have pressed the opposition more than the former Sunderland man, and only three Premier League midfielders have covered more meters than the 35,9080 that Henderson has this season.
It’s certainly speculative to suggest Liverpool wouldn’t have drawn against Palace with Henderson present, or lost to Chelsea, but he would have been a massive help, especially when the game turned in the Eagles’ favour.
If England boss Roy Hodgson is still unsure of who should line-up in his midfield alongside Steven Gerrard in Brazil, he’ll do a lot worse than selecting Henderson.
And he’s not all about work-rate either, as four goals, seven assists and an 86% pass completion rate in the league attest to.
All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.
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