With the obvious quality of Sturridge and Origi, it would be safe to assume that Roberto Firmino will only be playing up front if the former two are unavailable, while Danny Ings doesn’t have enough games for the club under his belt to statistically analyse his contribution.
I have analysed the stats for Daniel Sturridge and Divock Origi from the entirety of the 15/16 season, across the Premier League, and Europa League. In depth stats for The FA Cup and The Capital One Cup are not readily available.
I know that fan perception means a lot and statistics aren’t everything – last season in the Premier League alone, Sturridge won 5 aerial duels, Origi won 7 aerial duels, while Benteke won 130 aerial duels… Mesmerising. As such, this article isn’t an exact science, but certainly clears the water in terms of the statistical contributions of the two players per 90 minutes.
Today we seek to answer the question that has been on the lips of many a Liverpool fan over the summer – who should be LFC’s first-choice striker?
In the absence of Sturridge, Divock Origi shone for Liverpool in the latter half of the season. His form was cut-short by a horror tackle in the Merseyside derby by Ramino Funes Mori (known hereafter as ‘that idiot’), but the Belgian recovered in time to go to The Euros in the summer, albeit to mostly warm the bench. Origi made a triumphant return against Milan on Saturday night across the pond, scoring a lovely goal, and running the Milan defence absolutely ragged for forty-five minutes.
Sturridge on the other-hand, looked limp and lifeless during his time on the pitch, much like he did at times for LFC last season upon his return from injury number three-hundred-and-seventeen. So we ask the question again… is he the man for the job, or does Origi get the chance to lead the line against Arsenal on the opening day?
Appearances and Minutes Played
Both Sturridge and Origi had a torrid time with injuries, or being available when another player was in-form, and as such, neither player managed to command a consistent starting-place in the team.
Sturridge made 22 appearances in total, playing 1459 minutes, averaging 66 minutes per appearance.
Origi made 28 appearances in total, playing 1278 minutes, averaging 45 minutes per appearance.
Although Sturridge was available for fewer games, he was more likely to start, before being subbed-off to conserve fitness – or because he hadn’t scored; whereas Origi was more likely to come off the bench in an attempt to make an impact.
Goals and Finishing
There is absolutely no doubt that Daniel Sturridge is a world-class finisher: yes, he can be lazy; yes, he can be greedy; and no, he doesn’t often bust a gut to press the ball and regain possession (more on that later), but he is a world-class finisher. Can we say the same for Origi? We have plenty of players who can create and press, but what we really need when we’re in the box, is the player most likely to score, isn’t it?
Last season Sturridge notched 11 goals in 22 games, scoring 0.67 goals per 90 minutes. Origi paled in comparison in this aspect, scoring 7 goals in 28 games, still scoring a very respectable 0.49 goals per game, which roughly translates to a goal every two played games.
Despite the slight disparity between the two players in terms of scoring, Origi comes out on top in terms of shooting accuracy, putting 62% of his chances on target, compared to Sturridge’s 53.5% (over the course of the season, Sturridge took 77 shots to Origi’s 43). This could potentially show that Origi takes smarter shots, I don’t think that I’m alone when thinking that Sturridge can often take too many pot-shots at goal instead of passing.
Verdict: Too close to call thanks to the two players’ fractured seasons, Sturridge showed that he still has the ability get goals, although Origi proved the better shooter of the two.
If a striker isn’t scoring goals, then he needs to be creating opportunities for his team-mates, or he’s going to come under fire very quickly; did anyone notice last season that Lionel Messi had his worst goals-to-games ratio since 08/09? No, because he notched up 16 assists in La Liga alone, finishing top of the pile in that regard and helping Luis Suarez beat Ronaldo to the golden boot.
Both Sturridge and Origi managed 2 assists last season, not very impressive, but considering they often played as a lone-striker, and the likes of Coutinho wake up every other game without their shooting boots, we can probably forgive them.
It would be more productive to instead, look at how many chances they created for their team-mates, regardless of whether the chance was buried or not. Well, this stat is basically a non-goer, because they both created 14 chances for their team-mates.
In terms of taking players on, and fashioning chances for themselves or others, there is a disparity between the two players. Sturridge spent far more time on the treatment table last season, and as such, seemed a lot rustier than his Belgian team-mate. Sturridge only managed 20 successful take-ons last season (or 1.24 per 90 minutes), while Origi performed 27 successful take-ons in less playing time (1.97 per 90 minutes).
We all saw Origi leave ex-red Gabriel Paletta for dead when he scored against Milan, and I’m going to stick my neck out and give this one to Origi
Verdict: Origi edges chance creation because he did a better job of taking players on and running at the defence, but it’s marginal and Sturridge doesn’t deserve to lose all that much
We’re playing under Jurgen Klopp now, and if you don’t chase the ball down and contribute to the team-pressing, you’ll end up building your own luxury doghouse next to Christian Benteke’s.
This for me, is where I’m going to sound like I’m in full-on bias mode; we all saw how Sturridge played for England when he was plonked on the right-wing – he was dreadful. He doesn’t work hard for the overall team ethic, he doesn’t track back, and he left Kyle Walker (a defender who struggles with positioning as it is) vulnerable and exposed. This isn’t Sturridge’s fault of course, we all know who he is as a player, and we love him for it; Hodgson had no business putting him in such a high coverage position, and he struggled.
Origi on the other-hand is ‘a Klopp player’, he’s big, strong and he has a big engine, in a similar vein to Carlos Tevez and Luis Suarez. There are, unfortunately, no statistics for distance covered in the Premier League last season, so this aspect will have to remain a pure opinion piece.
What we do have available to us, is the statistics for aerial duels, and tackles won. Sturridge won a pretty pitiful 6 aerial duels in 22 games last season, or 0.37 per 90 minutes. If you need to put that in context, Sturridge got his head on the ball once every 4 hours and 30 minutes on the pitch. Origi fared better, winning 16 aerial battles, an average of 1.1 every 90 minutes.
Origi also excelled in terms of tackling (compared to Sturridge at least), average 0.56 tackles per 90 minutes/a little better than a tackle every two games. Sturridge is apparently twice as bad at tackling as he is at challenging for the ball in the air, managing 0.18 tackles every 90 minutes.
Verdict: Origi is more of an ‘athlete’ than Sturridge, and is far more suited to Klopp’s ‘Gegenpressing’ style. If we’re looking for a player who suits the team ethic, Sturridge will find himself warming the bench on the opening day against Arsenal.
It seems to me, that there are areas that Daniel Sturridge excels in, such as his finishing ability, and he’s always going to grab goals. The problem for me, arises when he’s having an off-day in front of goal. I’m going to get a lot of flak for tearing in to Liverpool’s favourite Brummie, but when he’s not giving a goal-scoring performance, he’s probably not going to give us any kind of performance at all.
Origi is a player who will forget his shooting-boots about as often as Sturridge, but when he does, he will still contribute to the overall team performance, chasing lost causes, winning tackles and challenging for the ball in the air. We have a lot of quality behind the striker now, with Firmino, Coutinho, Mane, Wijnaldum, and Lallana, all capable of grabbing a goal or two, and for this reason, I believe that Divock Origi should be considered out first-choice striker come August 14th.
Agree with me or disagree? Feel free to tell me that I’m a wool who knows nothing via my twitter: @AlexThomasLFC