Jordan Henderson has been compared to Steven Gerrard for eight years.
When Liverpool signed the box-to-box midfielder in 2011, many thought the club had recruited their talismanic captain’s long-term successor.
And Henderson has copped plenty of criticism since for perceived limitations; for not being Gerrard.
But today, a distinct difference between the two Englishmen many well have given Liverpool the decisive momentum in the title race.
Almost exactly five years ago, Demba Ba capitalised on the Liverpool captain’s stumble to give Chelsea the lead at Anfield.
Today, the Reds’ skipper provided a moment of brilliance to give the hosts the lead at Anfield.
Nervous emotion spilled from the stands as the Blues contained Jurgen Klopp’s side until half time — the away fans hopeful of spoiling the party once again.
Five minutes after the restart, Henderson, in his new advanced role, mugged Jorginho in the box and clipped the ball to the back post to give Sadio Mane a simple header finish.
Cue an explosion of relief from the home fans — a release of tension and an exorcism of the demons that have lingered at the club since April 2014.
For the majority of his career, Henderson has been mocked for his limitations, for paling in comparison to Gerrard in terms of ability.
It’s fitting he embraced the anti-Gerrard in him to step up and provide the inspiration in a match against Chelsea at Anfield, upon which Liverpool’s title hopes rested.
His assist is reward for his unwavering commitment to the club.
Sunderland born and bred, he has surrendered to the culture of Liverpool entirely and the fans appreciate him for taking the club into his heart.
In this sense, he has absolutely taken up Gerrard’s mantle.
Before kick-off, narrative was steeped against Liverpool.
Chelsea at Anfield was supposed to trigger a capitulation upon which Man City would capitalise, again.
But a 2-0 win – an exact reverse of the scoreline from 2014 – breaks the hoodoo.
Even Andy Robertson’s slip, in an almost identical area of the pitch to Gerrard’s, failed to rattle the hosts, with Klopp even cracking a knowing smile.
Pep Guardiola’s side may have a game in hand, but the emotional supremacy is now with Liverpool.
They’ve overcome the most significant speed bump and finish this month with fixtures against lowly Cardiff and Huddersfield, while City face Spurs and Man United.
Henderson may not be as good a player as Gerrard was, but Liverpool don’t need him to be.
They just need him to be a beating heart capable of harnessing the fans’ emotional power.
And his assist for Mane was evidence of exactly that — the anti-slip.
NEXT: From ‘unplayable’ to blunt instrument — the Christian Benteke story