One down, ten to go.
Liverpool served up their best display of 2019 by quite some distance in their resounding 5-0 victory against Watford. The Hornets suffered their third successive defeat by a five-goal margin at Anfield, following previous 5-0 and 6-1 thrashings.
For a while the outlook appeared rosier for Javi Garcia’s men, even if they were still set to lose comfortably, but two towering headers late on from Virgil van Djik kept the five-goal streak alive for the Reds.
The victory also meant Liverpool held onto their one point lead at the top of the Premier League table, after Manchester City also won simultaneously against West Ham United, benefiting from a controversial penalty in a 1-0 win.
Everton Big Finish to a Big Week
Pep Guardiola’s side have the chance to move back to the top temporarily on Saturday with their trip to Bournemouth, before Liverpool respond on Sunday in the Merseyside Derby.
Taking on Everton at Goodison Park is never an easy task given the rivalry involved, but especially when Everton would love to damage Liverpool’s chances of a first league title since 1990.
Moreover, in the reverse fixture at Anfield in October, Everton played very well and had chances to take all three points, but looked certain to be taking one at least before Divock Origi’s incredible and bizarre winner six minutes into added time.
No shortage of motivation then for the blue half of Merseyside. If Liverpool can negotiate their local rivals, then one of their toughest remaining fixtures will have been cleared, with only Chelsea and Tottenham to play from the ‘big six’, and both of those encounters will be at Anfield.
Liverpool proved they still have the level required to win the title in their relentlessly brilliant performance against Watford – now they have to repeat that again on Sunday in a crucial moment in the title race.
Can Origi Tilt Title Race in Reds’ Favour?
Origi already has one winner to his name against Everton this season, will he get another? Will he even start on Sunday? Will the Belgian international remain at Liverpool next season?
The Curious Case of Divock Origi would be an apt description of his Liverpool career to date – a career which appeared to be drawing to its conclusion last summer. Origi was reportedly available for transfer, with clubs such as Valencia and Wolves interested but ultimately a deal was not reached which suited both Liverpool and Origi.
Jürgen Klopp has always been a big fan of Origi, expressing his excitement at being able to work with the 23-year-old when he first became Liverpool manager, while also referring to previous interest in Origi when Klopp was at Borussia Dortmund.
At his best, Origi has everything. Pace, power, skill, finishing, everything a forward could wish for.
Unfortunately, Origi has been unable to perform at this level anywhere near consistently enough, with his best period arriving in early 2016. Then, Origi looked every inch Klopp’s long-term centre-forward, even beginning to edge out Daniel Sturridge (who would later be permanently edged out by Roberto Firmino) before disaster struck against Everton with a bad ankle injury inflicted by Ramiro Funes Mori.
Origi has rarely looked the same since, but has a respectable tally of goals and assists in the seasons he has played with Liverpool (his first season was still at his previous club Lille on loan, while Origi spent last season on loan with Wolfsburg), with 24 goals in over two and a half seasons. Only three goals have arrived this season, but one of his goals this season was the winner against Everton, which could prove to be invaluable come May when the title is decided.
Origi’s form can appear brighter when he is included in Liverpool’s stronger line-ups rather than the weakened and rotated cup teams. He produced an admirable but forgettable performance in the defeat to Wolves in the FA Cup, though still scored, and has been anonymous off the bench, with the Everton winner an incredible exception.
Left-Wing to Save Origi’s Liverpool Career?
With Klopp’s side having evolved considerably since Origi’s peak in 2016, the striker may be more effective on the left-wing in this Liverpool team – certainly if his display against Watford was anything to go by.
Klopp was questioned prior to kick-off for including Origi, with many anticipating the Belgian would lead the frontline, after struggling as a substitute in that position just a few days before against Manchester United. Yet Klopp saw his trust in Origi paid back handsomely on Wednesday night, performing at a level consistent with Klopp’s description of Origi’s attitude in training.
Liverpool need better depth behind Mohamed Salah, Sadio Mané and Firmino – can a new, determined and dynamic Origi be the answer?
With only just over a year reportedly left on his contract, a decision will have to be made by Liverpool, Klopp and Origi over the latter’s future at Anfield.
Watford was just one match. If Origi can bring the talent we all know he has back onto the pitch, he will make more crucial contributions to Liverpool’s title challenge beyond Anfield victories against Everton and Watford.
In doing so, he could find his Liverpool career truly beginning again.