Sportsmail Interview: Jordan Henderson
Liverpool versus Manchester United is always an anticipated fixture for any football fan, even for those who support neither side. As the two most successful teams in England, it's a footballing rivalry that could be compared to the famous Real Madrid versus Barcelona games in Spain.
Although Liverpool have struggled in recent times while Manchester United had a torrid year under David Moyes, the two sides have returned to their previous glory this season with Liverpool sitting at the top of the Premier League table having taken 51 points from 22 games, and United not far behind with 50 points of their own.
Recently, both clubs were drawn to play against each other in the Semi Finals of the Capital One Cup, a match that will probably be seen more as the Final than the Semi Finals, with the other remaining teams in the tournament being Arsenal and Leicester City.
Liverpool vice-captain Jordan Henderson
today agreed to a special interview with the Daily Mail's Dominic King, where he'll talk about the rivalry, his season so far with Liverpool and the prospect of winning a cup.
Jordan Henderson has been a key figure in midfield for Liverpool so far this season
"Yes, yes, absolutely," said Henderson, when asked whether the Semi Finals might hold more significance than the Final, if they manage to get there. "In a way, it is a Final, because to me, every game against Manchester United should be treated as a cup final. They are a brilliant team and you have to be on your best throughout the entire 90 minutes if you want to have a chance of beating them, plus we have that rivalry going on.
"It's really important for both us, the players, and the fans to get one over United. To be able to do that and reach a cup final at the same time would be fantastic.
"To be honest, I would have preferred to play against them in the Final. I won't lie about that one. Still, there's the incentive to be able to reach the Final by winning that game, so that might be something for us to think about and push on with."
Despite being a Sunderland fan since young, it is easy to see that the 24-year-old's passion for Liverpool is very much there and he regards the rivalry between his side and United as something that is more on a personal level, a trait he admits himself.
"After being at a club for a period of time you'll definitely start feeling a connection to it and all that," said Henderson. "Especially if you've settled in well and you're feeling at home."
And there is no doubt the hardworking midfield dictator has settled. Since signing on from Sunderland for £16 million in 2011, Henderson has gone from strength to strength with each passing season and was even awarded the vice-captaincy by Brendan Rodgers in the summer following the departure of Daniel Agger.
His form this season has also been spectacular and he has started every game, playing an instrumental part in the club's rise to the top of the table.
"The fans have been incredibly supportive as well and are a great source of motivation."
"I've been playing well this season and that's something I want to keep doing," Henderson continued, when the topic shifted to the current season. "It's all down to the manager, really, the one who decides the teams. He's been playing me every game and giving me the opportunities. That's something I'm very grateful for, and I want to repay him in kind.
"The fans have been incredibly supportive as well and are a great source of motivation. I look at them cheering, singing all these Liverpool songs in the stands... it makes me want to play well."
This is the closest Liverpool have gotten to a cup since 2012, the last year they won the Capital One Cup - at the time known as the Carling Cup. They were knocked out of the competition by, coincidentally, Manchester United last season at only the Third Round.
Henderson was part of the team that won the Carling Cup in 2012
"It won't be the same story again," Henderson said with utmost confidence. "We went out last season to United but we want to be the ones taking the cup home this year. It's a great chance to win a trophy and we don't want to pass it up. Not against Manchester United."
Henderson was speaking ahead of the Capital One Cup Semi Finals, with the first leg of the round taking place in two days at Old Trafford, while the second leg will be at Anfield a week later. Meanwhile, the second cup finalist will be determined between Arsenal and Leicester, who are also due to play against each other for a place in the Final.