During the incredible 2013/2014 season, when Liverpool almost claimed a first Premier League title, the Reds developed reputations as “bully boys”.
The club scored 101 goals, scoring four or more goals 11 times and finding the net three times a game on another 11 occasions. The club only lost to teams outside the top-four on two occasions.
Since that stunning campaign the club have struggled against supposed weaker sides. Already this campaign the club have been bullied by the likes of Watford, Crystal Palace and Newcastle.
Despite their struggles, the club will enter 2016 just nine points behind leaders Arsenal if they beat Sunderland, and in the mix for a title challenge, contrary to what Jurgen Klopp and pundits might say.
Key to Liverpool success in the second half of the season will be injuries and the ability to beat weaker teams.
A mid-season pre-season for Daniel Sturridge should finally get the marksman ready for what is hoped will be an injury-free end of season. Jon Flanagan’s welcome return will add cover for Nathaniel Clyne and Alberto Moreno, while Roberto Firmino should add more consistency to his game with five months of settling-in finally behind him.
While the aforementioned trio will help the clubs cause, it is the return of Jordan Henderson that will ultimately guide the club in the right direction.
In the 1-0 win over Leicester City, the England man showed exactly what he brings to the team.
N’Golo Kante has proved to be one of the signings of the season. The tough tackling speedy midfielder has lit up the division, helping Leicester to second in the table. Not many have been able to keep pace with the 24-year-old Frenchman.
However, twice during the clash with the Foxes, Henderson not only kept pace with the player but disposed him in stunning fashion. The second of which resulted in a stunning curled pass around the away defence and into the path of Christian Benteke.
The game with Leicester was only fifth start of the season, and it probably showed late on when he passed instead of going it alone when the Reds broke at pace.
The 25-year-old has emerged as a key man for Liverpool in the last 30 months and the energy and passion he brings has been sorely missed this campaign.
On the offensive side, Henderson has one goal and two assists in his 438 minutes of Premier League football, while 1.7 tackles, 1 interception and 1.3 clearances, on average per game shows the protection he offers the Reds backline.
The game with Leicester was the first time fans have seen the Henderson they have become accustomed to in recent seasons, and his return bodes well for the second half of the season.
On the eve of the clash with Sunderland, Klopp revealed that the captain is playing through the pain barrier with his heel injury.
Such is his importance however, the German will take a calculated risk, in conjunction with the medical team, on the midfielder.
The composure and leadership quality, visibly lacking in stand-in captain James Milner, is needed and it will help the Reds and Klopp for the second half of the season.