Is Origi pushing Sturridge out the team?

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Is Origi finally pushing Sturridge out the team?

Recent goals throw the Belgian up the pecking order.

2013/14 was an exciting season for us Reds, as we all recall. The finest talent to wear the shirt in Suarez, some ruthless, entertaining football from the entire team and a born finisher – Daniel Sturridge – brought us close to the trophy that seems eternally unobtainable.

The English forward was a huge part of that near-success with 21 goals and displayed his undoubted poaching, scoring and intelligent striker-ship time and again.

Very different story for him this season though.

I love the bloke and there’s absolutely no question he is an exceptional talent. In my eyes, up with Harry Kane as England’s best finisher. He scored a top striker’s goal for the national side this season to prove that.

He’s not doing it in the red of Liverpool though, and that’s what matters most. Divock Origi, on the other hand, is slowly getting there.

I’ve previously thought of them both as a strong plan B when having a false 9, such as Roberto Firmino, isn’t working, or in games where the opposition are putting Liverpool under heavy pressure and leaving more space for these straight-line speed merchants.

Origi, however, is scoring when he starts. Three goals have come in the EFL Cup against Burton, Derby and Leeds. Teams we should beat, but the important thing is he’s getting the goals when he has the chance. He’s also scored recently against Bournemouth and Sunderland in LFC’s last two league games. A myriad of differing opposition, and he’s coping with a few of them pretty well now.

Injuries to some of the front line have given him the chance to go out there and show what he can do, and he’s taking it. Three goals in his last three successive starts – not bad going.

A really important factor in these games is that they’re ones we, statistically, dominated. 60%, 72% and 77% possession against Bournemouth, Leeds and Sunderland are the kind of figures Liverpool chalk up most weeks. This is the norm, this is what happens most weeks and Origi is showing a capability to fit in when that’s the case.

Sturridge has, conversely, managed to score in just two games – against Burton, where Liverpool’s quality was always going to make all the difference, and against Tottenham, who – with a slightly weakened side – played high up the pitch, push forward with the ball and gave Sturridge two very direct, counter-attacking, “Sturridgey” opportunities to score. Which he took.

These games, though, form the minority. Rarely will we experience the gulf in quality we had against Burton, and rarely will we possess less of the ball than the opposition, which we did in the 2-1 cup win against Spurs.

Their mixture of strengths and weaknesses puts Sturridge, unfortunately, behind Origi in most games because he’s proving to be less of an asset than his Belgian counterpart in the rest of the games that have become the majority.

There are other factors in Origi’s favour as well. He may not be the proven goalscorer Sturridge is, but he’s still only 21. You’re talking another 4-8 years before he’ll find his prime. He’s also got a lot more time to adapt, learn and improve and the more time he spends in the first team the better.

Sturridge is 27 now. He may be a proven goalscorer, but answer me this – which players seem to demand more in the transfer market these days? Proven, ageing goalscorers or young prodigies who offer little guarantee of success besides raw talent?

If we sold them both, Origi would fetch far more. I think I can guess, purely based on that comparison, which Klopp would rather have in his squad as well if he could have only one – the young learner. Earlier in the season, we saw Sturridge picked over even Firmino (e.g. against Burnley), but that’s not the case anymore.

I think, though, that this is something to be excited about for Liverpool fans.

I wrote previously about Sturridge’s usefulness to the squad as a plan B against opposition who hog the ball and play high up the pitch. Some feedback that returned to me was ‘don’t you think Origi is the perfect fit for that option?’ To which, I have to say, I agreed with to a great extent. He’s got the pace to get on long/through balls, he’s got the strength to hold defenders off and he’s got the finishing ability.

However, recent games tell me Origi fits in a little better to the team’s normal system of play, while Sturridge remains that useful ‘other’ option against more dominant or high-pressing teams. I think he is still very slightly quicker than Origi in a straight line, he guarantees goals in these kind of games on the rare occasion they come up and, ultimately, adds to the squad’s attacking depth and has more experience than most of the young squad.

I’m very pleased they’re both on the team. If you asked me who the first choice between the two is now, it would depend on the game. But for games where we will dominate, which is most, truth be told… I’d pick Divock Origi.

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