One of the most common criticisms leveled at Henderson is that he isn't proficient at turning on the ball.
This isn't aimed at you, as you are only reporting a "common criticism", but it really doesn't matter. It's like criticising him for not being able to run upfield with the ball balanced on his head. Turning upfield with the ball is not something you want your defensive midfielder doing unless he's 100% confident it's safe to do so. See Lallana getting robbed blind on Sunday right in front of his own box. Even if it were important, which it isn't, he's as proficient at it as anyone else. It's really not difficult. He just chooses not to do it when it's safer not to do so, and that would have come from how he's been coached over the years. In their own half, players need to get into shape so that when they receive the ball they're pretty much facing forward, not back to goal. That goes for his teammates, not just him. Klopp was bellowing "Movement!" at his players first half. That's the key. As long as Henderson, or Can, or Stewart, or Lucas, don't dwell on the ball facing their own keeper but ping it off again that's fine, the ball's moving, we've still got it, and we can recycle it until players have got into better shape to receive it and move forward. Sides like Barcelona do this constantly, passing, passing, passing, until the shape's good. We don't need to get the ball off a centre back and turn it into Charge of the Light Brigade. Leave that sort of stuff for the likes of Palace.
I think Henderson can play def mid. He's quicker over the ground than Lucas, better passing range, can go through different gears than Lucas who plays at the same ponderous pace all the time, he's taller, he's got a better engine, he can spot danger, and in the season we nearly won the league he was impressively consistent, and had we had him for those missing three games I think we might have gone on to win the title. If Lucas can play there, despite not having possessed any obvious credentials for the job other than the ability to find a teammate within a fairly short proximity, and if Can can (der, de de de de, der, de de de de der, de de de, dededededededede), then Henderson can.
Is it his best position? No, right now possibly not, but could it be, possibly given time. We've always collectively seen Henderson as the archetypal British box-to-box midfielder contributing little other than heart and lungs, and maybe he was when he arrived but Brendan did a real job on Henderson, adding finesse, passing range, and a huge dollop of tactical awareness. Nobody I've ever seen in a red shirt can play those little "pointless" 1-2s to slow a game down and see a game out in a winning position like Jordan can, and I think he learned that off Brendan. Rodgers did some good work on game management that should not be written off in a black and white world where managers are depicted either as gods when they're with us or fuckwits when they've gone. Is that what's in store for Klopp if he doesn't bring the title home? It seems unlikely right now but history suggests otherwise.
Henderson's best position right now probably is as the middle of a midfield three, in terms of being midway between our goal and theirs. He doesn't possess the goal threat that he should, so shouldn't be the most advanced of a three. That should go to Wijnaldum by the looks of it from Sunday. I know Lallana scored but he doesn't do it regularly enough for me. If we were looking for a centre mid to grab 10+ goals I think Wijnaldum would be shorter odds than Lallana, which is why Klopp's signed him presumably.
A lot of people seemed to be assuming we would play 4-2-3-1 this season, and possibly foreveremore, because that's what Klopp "has always played", but we've been setting up in a Barca style 4-3-3 (or 4-1-2-3) all pre-season so it was no surprise that's what we put out at the Emirates. It's marginal anyway, how you play with the numbers; if one centre mid advances forward he effectively becomes the middle of a 4-2-3-1 anyway, and if he bombs past the striker the numbers become meaningless. Players do not stay in fixed zones. If they did, they'd be easy to defend against. The more advanced of the three, whether it be Wijnaldum, Lallana, Henderson, Can, whoever, needs to be a real dynamo, breaking forward out of a notional zone to suddenly overload/outnumber the opposition in dangerous areas. If two do it, Wijnaldum and Lallana, say, then havoc can be wreaked as we saw on Sunday.
As a sidenote, I know he scored two so it almost seems daft to criticise, but I think Coutinho is wasted on the left of a front three. He effectively becomes a one-trick pony out there, jinking onto his right and firing in, wide or over. Yes, he gets a few worldies as a result, but that glosses over the fact that he is not a wide player. He's a cracking little player but I don't feel he sees enough of the ball out there; he becomes peripheral. If we're playing a middle three, I'd like to see him moved back as part of the cohort of three mids, as a sort of red Iniesta. Let's get him on the ball and in the game. Please. Jurgen. Would you mind being so good as to. I'd love to see Ojo really brought on this season wide left. He's got as much in his locker to play that position as anyone in the squad, so now it's just whether he is ready. Has he looked out of place at this level? Not for me. Some(one) once said on the Youth/Reserves thread that Ojo would make it here, and I just laughed at the time because he was the laziest player in that side and would never have got anywhere if he'd carried on in that vein. Fortunately the coaches must have got through to him and those predicting a first team future for Ojo back then might just be proved right. Jurgen will have a feel for when he's ready i.e. capable of playing well week in week out. Sooner the better for me though. Round pegs, round holes.
Anyway, returning to topic, rather than criticise Henderson and try to nitpick supposed weaknesses in his game, we should be celebrating the fact that we have one of the most versatile midfielders in the league, who can do a quality job in a number of positions, and a manager that looks to have the ability to move players from one position to another (e.g. Milner) with successful results.