Has Divock Origi played his way back into Liverpool’s first-team?

Divock Origi and Takumi Minamino were thrown onto the pitch by Jurgen Klopp late against West Ham on Sunday with Liverpool desperate for a goal. In just 15 minutes of play, the Carabao Cup goalscoring pair made a difference, although Liverpool ultimately fell to defeat.

Origi’s 83rd-minute goal made the game interesting and pulled Liverpool within a goal of getting a draw. However, Sadio Mane’s header missed wide in the dying minutes to prevent Liverpool from drawing 3-3 — instead of losing 3-2.

Klopp may not have expected to use Origi in the game, but was forced to use four attackers with Liverpool chasing the match. Roberto Firmino’s hamstring injury will keep him out until December and with Mohamed Salah suddenly out of form after a red-hot start, Origi could get more minutes in the Premier League.

Mostly kept to Carabao Cup duty, Origi has scored three goals in seven games in all competitions. He has also added two assists. Of his three goals, two have been stellar efforts. Against Preston North End in the Carabao Cup, he casually scored by throwing his leg backwards and redirecting the ball with the bottom of his boot. An almost ‘baby’ scorpion kick without leaving the ground.

His second spectacular goal of the campaign was Sunday’s half volley versus West Ham. Playing with his back to goal, Origi pulled the strike out of nowhere to get Liverpool on the scoresheet. Origi’s magic came after the likes of Salah, Diogo, Jota, and Mane had failed to crack the West Ham defence.

The Belgian averages a goal every 91 minutes in all competitions. Sunday’s 14 minutes versus West Ham were the second set of minutes he has played all season in the Premier League. Origi previously got eight minutes against Crystal Palace but only came on after Liverpool were 3-0 up.

Origi’s stats thus far warrant the striker getting more time on the pitch. Unfortunately, Salah, Jota, Firmino, and Mane are ahead of him in the pecking order. However, form and fatigue are bound to happen; and with Salah and Mane to play at the Africa Cup of Nations, Klopp needs to keep the Belgian striker in form.

Origi’s xG after just 16 minutes of Premier League football is 0.10 compared to his 1.0 goals. Anyone watching on Sunday will know Origi pulled his goal out of nothing. Origi has looked sharp when given the chance to play this season and he is dying to show that 2018-19 was no fluke.

His best Liverpool goals return was in 2016-17. That campaign saw Origi score seven goals in 34 matches. A loan to Wolfsburg in 2017-18 followed but there was no interest in signing him permanently. Last season was likely the lowest for Origi at Anfield. After two solid seasons in 2018-19 and 2019-20, campaigns in which he helped Liverpool win the Champions League and Premier League in back-to-back years, Origi failed to find the back of the net in the Premier League.

Origi played a mere 176 Premier League minutes in 2020-21 and posted an xG of just 1.08. His xG shows the lack of playing time and goalscoring attempts in the nine league appearances Origi has made.

There are some changes that Klopp may need to make in November. Competition for places does not seem to be taking place in all areas. Andrew Robertson has been poor while backup Kostas Tsimikas has not conceded a goal when playing in the league this season. He is also a better crosser of the ball.

Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain has also been very good for Liverpool. Klopp’s decision to remove Ox and play Thiago was a mistake on Sunday. Thiago promptly gave away the ball multiple times after coming on the pitch.

Origi could get more minutes as Klopp needs to avoid having a nailed-on group of starters. Complacency breeds staleness.

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