• We won’t suffer like Spurs after Bale was sold - Henderson
• Balotelli working towards Liverpool debut against Tottenham
• Mario Balotelli has to bring menace of Luis Suárez back
Jordan Henderson claims Liverpool’s defeat at Manchester City provided evidence that Brendan Rodgers’ team will not slip into reverse without Luis Suárez.
City’s comfortable win at the Etihad Stadium on Monday, coupled with Liverpool’s limited attacking threat even during an encouraging first half display, brought into sharp focus the impact of Suárez’s departure on last season’s runners-up in the Premier League. A trip to Tottenham Hotspur on Sunday, when Mario Balotelli could make his Liverpool debut, invites the comparison that Rodgers’ side may suffer the same problems as Spurs after the sale of their finest player, Gareth Bale.
But Henderson claims the debut performances of Alberto Moreno and substitute Lazar Markovic, plus the introduction of Balotelli, renders that comparison groundless. The England international said: “You only have to look at the players who made their debuts against City, the way they worked getting up and down the pitch. Moreno got plenty of crosses in and Lazar came on later in the game and looked very sharp and confident.
“I thought they were brilliant and we’ve still got Mario to come into the side too so hopefully he can get a good weeks’ training under his belt and maybe play some part at the weekend. So, all in all, I don’t see that [Spurs after Bale] happening. If you look at the game against City we dominated it for the first 40 minutes with the ball and were arguably the better side. Then they got one just before half time and it gave them a big lift at an important point in the game.”
Balotelli is likely to be involved at White Hart Lane but Moreno and fellow full-back Glen Johnson are major doubts for the game due to the respective ankle and thigh injuries they suffered at City. “We’ve seen Mario in the Premier League, and he’s been to Milan and done well there, so obviously he’s a big player and a very talented player,” Henderson added. “He’s very physical but also has great technique and can get goals so we’re hoping he can be ready for the weekend. I think he’s looking forward to the weekend and getting started.”
Liverpool produced one of their finest performances of last season at Tottenham in December, a 5-0 away win that signalled the end of Andre Villas-Boas’ reign at White Hart Lane. Henderson said: “From the off everyone was right up for the game. We knew it was an important game and everything clicked on the day. We scored some fantastic goals, played some great football and it was one of those days when everything seemed to go the way you would want it to. Hopefully we can do the same this season but we know that it will be a difficult game.”