Liverpool captain Jordan Henderson has unfinished business with Chelsea as the 2014 defeat to Jose Mourinho’s side which sank their Premier League title bid still hurts.
The suspended England midfielder could only watch helplessly from the stand as the top-of-the-table Reds’ 2-0 reverse at Anfield ended an 11-match winning run and handed the initiative to eventual champions Manchester City.
Brendan Rodgers’ side then threw away a 3-0 lead to draw with Crystal Palace as they over-attacked in an attempt to improve a goal difference inferior to City’s – but that was all a consequence of not being able to get at least a point at home to second-placed Chelsea, which would have kept their destiny in their own hands.
“It was hard to watch. It was a tough time to miss those games at a crucial time. Chelsea went to do a job and they did it well,” said Henderson, who along with goalkeeper Simon Mignolet and Daniel Sturridge are the three survivors from the 2014 squad.
“I was on edge big time. I could sense it with the crowd too when they were wasting time in the first few minutes. It wasn’t nice to watch.
“For me it’s just another thing I’ve used to keep going and channel all my energy into keep winning games and being successful for Liverpool.
“This is a fantastic team but it’s a big month or so for us as a team and hopefully we can keep performing and keep winning to get the results that we need to get over the line.
“You want to win trophies, especially when you are at this football club.
“I try to use that time as an experience and try to help the lads in the best way I can. It’s a new chapter and a new team.”
There is on key difference between the 2014 side and the current version and that is their defensive stability.
Rodgers’ team played thrilling football, highlighted by the fact they scored 101 goals that season. Their downfall was at the other end where they conceded 50.
They also failed to handle the frustration built up by Mourinho’s ultra-defensive tactics in a game now famous for Steven Gerrard’s slip just inside his own half which allowed Demba Ba to make the crucial breakthrough just before the interval.
Opposition fans – and not just Chelsea’s – still taunt Liverpool with a chant about that incident but Henderson insists they are better set up to cope with the expectation and frustration this time around.
“I still felt we had that belief back when we were going for the title a few years ago but we weren’t as strong as we would have liked to have been,” added Henderson.
“I don’t like to compare. It’s a totally different team.
“The biggest difference between the team now compared to the team back then is that defensively we’re a lot more solid and we’re conceding a lot less goals which is a big thing in the Premier League.
“For us it’s about concentrating on ourselves and focusing on what we need to do. We need to keep winning.
“Hopefully City will slip up at some point of course but – for us – it’s about winning our own games.
“If we focus on our performances then everything else takes care of itself.”