The SAS combination of Liverpool’s 2013/14 season was the biggest reason the came so near to winning the league. Since then, Liverpool have been incredibly hesitant to play two up top. This is partially due to a lack of options that both Brendan Rodgers and Jurgen Klopp have faced. Daniel Sturridge spent most of the last two seasons hurt, and, until recently, not many of the other striking options have performed well enough demand a spot.
Then Divock Origi decided to hit form. His recent explosion in form, three goals in the last two games, has forced Klopp’s hand, who can’t ignore having a fit Daniel Sturridge at his disposal as well. While previously, these two have been in an either/or type situation, last weekend’s demolishing of Stoke argues that that shouldn’t be the case. Is it time for Liverpool to try them together, especially with the critical match against Dortmund looming on the horizon?
Let’s look at the statistical evidence. Currently, Liverpool have played Daniel Sturridge and Divock Origi together for a total of 290 minutes. In that time, they have each scored three goals, and the team has scored eight. That means together they average a goal every 48.3 minutes, or roughly two goals every 90 minute period. The team, on the other hand, averages a goal every 36.25 minutes.
We can also see that this helps both players in their natural game. Unlike the aforementioned SAS combination between Sturridge and Luis Suarez, where both players played well individually and this pushed the other to do better, Sturridge and Origi seem to work better in tandem. Sturridge has always worked better with a partner. He can lead the line, but also likes dropping deeper and getting involved in the game. When he has played on his own, he can sometimes be marked out of games or starved of service. Adding Origi to the mix pulls some of the attention off of both players and allows both to play with a bit more freedom. Origi is a player who has developed into something of a tank, but can also play on the wing. The tactical flexibility of both players means that they can swap positions and help each other out fluidly throughout the game.
If this were to occur, what formation should Liverpool play, and who would get sacrificed? It would be tempting to go for the favored 4-4-2 diamond formation that so nearly brought Liverpool success. It makes sense. It moves the players into positions they know and like. Emre Can would take the Steven Gerrard role, while Coutinho and Henderson take up the same roles they flourished in that season. Roberto Firmino would move into the Raheem Sterling spot. Liverpool could also try the 4-2-2-2, similar to the title-winning Manchester City side of 2013/14. This formation would move Coutinho further up the pitch, next to Firmino, in both of their more natural positions. In a sense, this is closer to the formation that Liverpool play now, only there is a second striker instead of a third attacking midfielder. Finally, they could play a 4-3-1-2, which moves Coutinho back into the midfield and advances Emre Can into a less defensive role. Adam Lallana could also slot into almost any of the midfield roles, depending on form and rotation. There is so much flexibility involved in this lineup that it would boggle the mind to not give it more of a run out. While the upcoming Dortmund game may be too important to risk experimentation, the season is winding down. It’s the perfect time to experiment and set a precedent for new season.