It was, perhaps, inevitable that the team would fall off a cliff, so to speak: a perfect storm of a week off, the pressure-release valve of winning the title opening, facing the other best team in the league and having been celebrating justifiably hard.
Man City were ruthless and clinical, Liverpool less so – plus disorganised and lacking the decision-making in defence.
It all led to a 4-0 defeat, but not a one-sided, dominant procession in the way that the Reds’ own 4-0 win over Crystal Palace was, one game earlier.
Henderson points out that the Reds had chances of their own and told to the club website the players will be as upset about not scoring those as they will about conceding at the other end of the pitch.
“We will be disappointed with the goals we conceded of course, but we’ll also be disappointed with the chances that we created and we haven’t scored,” he said.
“So in both boxes obviously we weren’t good enough and we were punished, but I thought the attitude of the lads, we kept going right until the end and we came here to win but unfortunately City were better than us on the night.
“It’s never nice to lose games. We need to show our character and again, react in the right way.
“The next game is Sunday so it comes thick and fast and we need to be ready and keep going. We still want to finish the season off on a high which we’ve still got six games left, so we want to go out there and perform.”
Henderson also acknowledged that Liverpool lost to what had been, until our own emergence, the best team in the league—not exactly a shock reversal, then, given they were at home and have had more games to reach peak fitness since the restart.
Even so, it’s now about showing those who have quickly commented that Liverpool’s focus was off are entirely wrong, and that the self-proclaimed mentality monsters still have enough quality and application to see out the season in style.
And the skipper is sure that will happen, with the Reds only looking ahead: to next week, and to more silverware in 2020/21.
“You’ve got to give credit to City, a fantastic side and they finished their chances off.
“After the game the lads are very disappointed with the result as we should be.
“On another night I’d like to think we can finish our chances and it would change the game but unfortunately it wasn’t to be and you’ve got to give credit to City.
“We are not making any excuses. We are bitterly disappointed and we expect more from ourselves but it can be a lesson for us going forward if we want to improve and keep contending for trophies and being in the run-in for the title next season and other competitions as well.
“This is a learning curve tonight so we need to react the right way in the next game.”
Henderson’s desire to see a response was reiterated by team-mates Gini Winaldum and Neco Williams.
Both players were disappointed with the outcome on the night, but kept with the theme of looking forward to setting it right next time out.
It certainly won’t be what Aston Villa want to hear, and if the Reds back up their words with actions—as they have so often in 2019/20—then we should see a very good response on Sunday at Anfield.