Henderson sees ‘anticipation rather than desperation’ as Liverpool embrace title pressure

Jordan Henderson sees “anticipation rather than desperation” at Liverpool, with Jurgen Klopp’s Premier League title hopefuls embracing the pressure of chasing down a first crown in 29 years.

The Reds find themselves back behind reigning champions Manchester City in a thrilling race for the finish but can return to the summit with victory at home to Huddersfield on Friday.

Henderson is aware that each passing fixture brings with it increased expectation, with there little margin for error on the part of a team that has waited almost three decades for domestic dominance.

The Liverpool skipper wrote in his column for the club’s official matchday programme: “It feels like we’ve been talking about scenarios for the end of the season since August. I’ve honestly not known a season like it. Essentially, since the opening weeks of the campaign, there has been speculation and comment on what every result means for what can be achieved this season.

“How many wins will it take? How many points do you need? How many points do your opponents need to drop and where might that happen?

“Clearly, with just a handful of games to go, that talk has ramped up to a point where, on the outside, it feels like discussions about what might or might not happen are going on 24/7. But, as you’ll have heard nearly every player in our squad say repeatedly when asked, it isn’t something that has consumed us.

“We haven’t lost an ounce of focus. Don’t get me wrong; all of us are living and breathing every second of this. We absolutely love it and we are completely focused on it. We love the pressure, the intensity and the focus. This is what every single one of us wants every single season – to have these pressures at this point of the season.

“Someone told me that a supporter had said playing Champions League games that kick off in daylight is what Liverpool supporters want all the time because it means you’re playing these games at the end of April and May, which is the business end. We’ve done that two seasons running and how we’re handling this as a group of players is what gives me the hope for the years to come that we can be a force season after season.

Jordan Henderson Liverpool 2018-19

“When I look around our dressing room I see a group of players who could be together for years and years if we all want that. The best way of describing our current situation is that the overriding feeling is opportunity and that goes for everyone connected with the club – from the dressing room to the terraces.

“It’s anticipation rather than desperation. We’re acting like a club that ‘belongs’ at this level but not in an arrogant way. I think that’s been a key part of our growth as a club and it’s why everyone should be relishing and embracing the pressure of the remaining weeks of the season.

“You’ll have seen James Milner’s celebration after scoring the penalty at Cardiff. He was taking the mickey out of himself for being the most senior player age-wise in the dressing room, but look at how Millie plays and how much energy he has. He can keep playing at this level for years and years, the way he looks after himself. I’ve only seen him get quicker, fitter and stronger during his time here – and again that says everything about our squad and the commitment from everyone in it.

“It’s difficult to talk about the long-term when you’re fighting for what we are in this moment, but I do think it’s relevant to the current mood of calm focus we have as an entire club.

“Our supporters are clearly loving every moment and, like with us players, I only see joy and belief in them at the moment. I don’t see anything other than us all living the moment and I think that’s a big part of our growth. The fear and desperation isn’t there anymore. No one here thinks we’ve cracked it, but the support we are getting shows total belief.

“There’s also patience. Collectively we know we don’t need to be 1-0 up after 10 minutes because we have the quality to score at any time. So, if we go in at half-time goalless, or fall behind in a game, we’re still fully convinced we can go on and win it. The supporters know every single player is giving all they have every time they take to the pitch. For most of the season giving our all has been enough to get the result we wanted. That’s why we’re in this really positive situation now.”

Liverpool head into a meeting with Huddersfield sat one point behind City with both sides having now taken in the same number of games and having just three fixtures remaining on their respective fixture lists.