Joseph Kavaloski points out that Daniel Sturridge will find it difficult making it back into the Liverpool starting lineup with Divock Origi playing so well.
Thanks to Philippe Coutinho’s ankle injury, Divock Origi has finally been able to earn a sustained run of games in the starting eleven. The young Belgian has started each match since Coutinho went off against Sunderland, scoring in each match prior to the Merseyside Derby on Monday.
Prior to Origi’s inclusion in the starting eleven, Daniel Sturridge had previously been Jurgen Klopp’s first choice attacker off the bench behind Coutinho, Roberto Firmino, and Sadio Mane. Unfortunately, it appears Sturridge has lost this role in the squad as he too recently sustained a calf injury. These two injuries have allowed Origi to entrench himself as the number one alternative to Klopp’s first choice attacking group.
Sturridge’s persistent injury issues may not exactly be his fault, but the most recent ailment came at the worst time possible. Coutinho’s injury opened up a huge hole in the side that needed to be filled and Sturridge could have been the man for the job, however, it appears as though his most recent chance to cement a place in the starting eleven has come and gone.
While Sturridge’s quality can never be doubted, his effectiveness this season has not been up to the standard of seasons past. The Englishman has only scored four (none in the Premier League) and assisted two in 12 appearances. Not very impressive for a player who was the fourth fastest Red to reach 50 goals.
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Origi, on the other hand, scored in five straight prior to the Everton match (seven goals and one assist in 18 overall), while offering a dynamic attacking outlet with his electric pace and well-rounded skillset.
Sometimes statistics can leave out important details, but this is not the case with Sturridge this season. His goal tally has been noticeably down and his impact on matches has similarly floundered. The left-footed striker’s electric pace appears to be severely hampered by the numerous leg injuries over the past few seasons, forcing him to rely on instincts and technical ability to put the ball in the back of the net.
In contrast, Origi has shown his blistering pace on multiple occasions to go along with excellent movement off the ball. The 21-year-old also adds more of an aerial dimension to the side, standing at an imposing 6’1” (185 cm). Origi has also proven to be very clinical in his shooting situations, with a number of excellent finishes – most notably against Sunderland and Bournemouth.
Each player is certainly dangerous in attack, but the area where Origi is far superior to Sturridge is in his defensive work. Origi may be performing slightly better this season, but Sturridge’s pure quality cannot be denied in attack. Defensively, however, Sturridge is nowhere close to his Belgian teammate.
Origi uses his tremendous pace to constantly close down defenders throughout the match. When employed as the central striker, Roberto Firmino is well-known for an incredible work rate in defence and Origi brings a similar attitude to the number nine position. Unfortunately, Sturridge’s apparent hesitancy to risk injury results in a player that provides very little when his side is not in possession.
As many Liverpool fans know full well, Jurgen Klopp requires a lot of his players both in attack and defence. Sturridge can certainly fulfil everything Klopp wants out of his striker even without his once tantalising pace. The key issue for Sturridge is his defensive work where he often lacks the work rate of Origi and Firmino. Not only has this become a huge negative in the mind of Klopp, but the effect it has on the rest of the German’s system is obvious.
Although the numbers may not be significant, it is telling that Origi has averaged 0.3 tackles per match in the Premier League this season while Sturridge is yet to successfully make a tackle. In addition, Origi has attempted a duel every 5.6 minutes during league action this year while Sturridge has done the same every 29 minutes. Finally, Origi has also made 15 recoveries while Sturridge has only made 6.
Going forward, it appears as though it will be very difficult for Sturridge to regain his place as Liverpool’s starting striker. Origi has been playing well as of late and at only 21 years of age, he still has a lot of potential he has not yet tapped. Not only will Sturridge need to regain his dynamic scoring form of seasons past, but he will also need to dramatically increase his defensive work rate if he hopes to once again lead the Reds’ attacking line.
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