Paul Spillane discusses whether or not Divock Origi should be given a start against Arsenal at Anfield this evening.
Without wanting to sound too much like a broken record, 2017 has been extremely frustrating for Liverpool fans, with the Reds struggling to put any kind of form together going into the crucial final stages of the season.
Our free-scoring, high-pressing ‘heavy metal’ brand of football has seemingly come to a halt since the turn of the year. Finding the back of the net has become something in short supply, with confidence in front of goal becoming a worry.
Despite this difficult situation, Klopp has been reluctant to shuffle our forward line. We can all agree that based on this season’s performances, on their day, Mané, Coutinho, and Firmino can wreak havoc against the league’s top opposition. However, in recent times, they really haven’t been the same lethal trio we were all accustomed to seeing in the first half of the season.
It is here that I think a slight change should occur, and that one Divock Origi should feature in the starting line-up once more.
Fans will all remember the Belgian’s fine run of form in the closing stages of last season, scoring four goals in four Premier League games, as well as finding the net in both Europa League legs against Borussia Dortmund as well.
This brief yet successful period gave fans a glimpse at Origi’s future potential. However, this season, the Belgian has struggled for consistency and has failed to kick on from last season’s achievements.
Thus, due to the success our attacking trio have had this season, Origi has fallen behind Firmino in the pecking order for the striker’s berth.
So far, this Premier League campaign, Origi has appeared in 22 games, but only completing 90 minutes in three of those matches. These three fixtures were Bournemouth Away, West Ham at home, and Middlesbrough away. Interestingly, when given the opportunity to play for the full 90 minutes, Origi has found the net in each of these games, going on to produce a similar run to last season and scoring five in five.
Therefore, with our current forward line not coming to fruition in front of goal in most recent times, would changing the current system benefit our performances on the pitch?
Firmino arguably offers more in terms of adopting a high-pressing game, that Klopp desires so much from his players. Origi, known for his lightning pace and physical stature in the air, would be a different option up top. Playing Origi would give us much more of a physical presence and focal point in attack, an area of the pitch that has been far too slow and laboured in recent times.
For this reason, I would be inclined to play Origi as the sole striker, with Firmino operating in a free role behind. Mané and Coutinho would continue to operate out wide, and would still be able to link up with Firmino going forward. A midfield three doesn’t seem to have been having any desired effect, with our build-up play being far too slow of late, thus a midfield pairing of Can (to be immediately replaced by Henderson when he returns from injury) and Wjnaldum. Lallana has been one of our most consistent performers would thus drop to the bench, as he doesn’t possess the defensive capabilities to play in a midfield two.
The fact that we have been knocked out of the FA Cup, puts sole emphasis on the battle for an elusive top four finish, which in turn leaves Origi with the difficult task of convincing Klopp to field him instead of Firmino.
Whatever happens for the remainder of the season, at 21 years of age, there is still plenty of time for the Belgian to earn his place as a crucial member of the team under Klopp. I am merely hopeful this is realised soon. With a good record in front of goal, when he has featured for the full 90 minutes, surely Origi deserves a chance to remind the Anfield faithful of the talent he possesses.
If you would like to discuss Origi and his role in the team, find Paul on Twitter.