Divock Origi: A perennial thorn in Everton’s side out to pile on FA Cup misery

While hints at vast changes for the FA Cup tie with Everton may leave an uneasy feeling, the tie provides yet another chance for Liverpool’s No. 27 to inflict further pain on the Blues.

The morning after the Champions League home game against Carlo Ancelotti’s Napoli I found myself sat in an LFCTV studio with Divock Origi.

He was there for a couple of TV media assignments, but between filming sat down with me on the red benches in the studio where ‘LFC Later’ is filmed to have a chat for the official Liverpool vs. Everton matchday programme. So I teed up the following question.

“2016. You score against Everton at Anfield. 2017. You score against Everton at Anfield. 2018. You score against Everton at Anfield. 2019?”

He laughed and responded immediately with “I don’t know why this is!” before thinking about it a little. “I feel like it is just very big moments for me. I thrive off the energy in the good games, the big games, but this doesn’t mean I will score in every derby!”

Doesn’t it, Divock?

Six days later, with just six minutes on the clock, Sadio Mane slipped a pass through. Origi darted between Michael Keane and Yerry Mina, touched the ball past Jordan Pickford – who was in the biggest no man’s land since Jurassic Park – and rolled the ball into the net. Another Anfield derby, another Origi goal. And there was more to come.

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Wednesday, December 4, 2019: Liverpools Divock Origi passes Everton's goalkeeper Jordan Pickford as ge scores the first goal during the FA Premier League match between Liverpool FC and Everton FC, the 234th Merseyside Derby, at Anfield. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Xherdan Shaqiri, from another Mane pass, and Keane exchanged goals before Dejan Lovren turned into Franco Baresi and played a guided long-range pass that took out all 10 of Everton‘s outfield players.

Origi, whilst on the run, allowed the ball to drop over his shoulder before killing it with the kind of touch that makes you wonder if working with Thierry Henry, when he was assistant manager of Belgium for a couple of years, has rubbed off on him.

Pickford started to wander into Isla Nublar again but hadn’t got further than the edge of his six-yard box when Origi lifted the ball over his outstretched arms to make it 3-1 right in front of the visiting Bluenoses, who have now seen their team concede 21 goals in their last eight trips across Stanley Park following the Reds’ 5-2 win.

To put that into further gloriously enjoyable perspective, Everton conceded 15 goals at Anfield in the 1970s, 16 in the 1980s and 17 in the 1990s. Jurgen Klopp‘s Liverpool have scored 16 past them at Anfield since 2016 and Origi has netted five of those 16 goals.

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Wednesday, December 4, 2019: Liverpools Divock Origi celebrates scoring the third goal, his second of the game, during the FA Premier League match between Liverpool FC and Everton FC, the 234th Merseyside Derby, at Anfield. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

It’s not quite up there with Ian’s Rush’s 25 goals against the Blues, or Steven Gerrard‘s 10 for that matter, but Origi is now just a hat-trick away from being Liverpool’s all-time joint third leading goalscorer against Everton.

Which is quite remarkable when you consider that Origi is: a) 24, b) has appeared in just six Merseyside derbies and c) has only completed 90 minutes on 20 occasions during his entire 123-game Reds’ career.

He hasn’t even played 90 minutes in any of his six Merseyside derbies with his appearances lasting for 53, 82, 34, six, 63 and 73 minutes respectively. Which means Origi averages a goal every 62 minutes when playing against Everton – so is clearly due another one on Sunday.

It suggests that Origi is a big-game impact player, something Barcelona can also testify to, and Liverpool may well need him to shoulder the goalscoring responsibility against Everton again if, as seems likely, Klopp makes wholesale changes to his team.

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Wednesday, December 4, 2019: Liverpool's Divock Origi (C) is sandwiched between Everton's Yerry Mina (L) and Michael Keane (R) during the FA Premier League match between Liverpool FC and Everton FC, the 234th Merseyside Derby, at Anfield. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

I’ve always been a little uneasy about fielding weakened teams in the FA Cup and the way the best domestic cup competition in the world has been devalued.

96 Reds were unlawfully killed at Hillsborough in 1989 because they went to watch their team play in an FA Cup semi-final. Try telling their families, or the survivors of that dreadful day, that the FA Cup doesn’t matter. But at the same time, it is an undeniable fact that the competition has lost its lustre (for numerous reasons) and has slipped down the priorities list for even many lower-league clubs.

Given Liverpool’s current position in the Premier League, the number of injuries, the crazy fixture schedule (and don’t miss Klopp’s programme notes on this matter – it’s fair to say they’ll be agenda-setting) and Champions League football to come next month then I can fully see why the manager is planning to make a lot of changes.

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Sunday, December 29, 2019: Liverpool's manager Jürgen Klopp celebrates after the FA Premier League match between Liverpool FC and Wolverhampton Wanderers FC at Anfield. Liverpool won 1-0. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

But we’re talking about a Merseyside derby here against an Everton team that hasn’t beaten Liverpool for a decade and last won at Anfield in 1999 when Klopp was still playing for Mainz 05.

The FA Cup is also their last hope of ending a trophy drought that stretches all the way back to 1995 so the thought of their 7,900 supporters celebrating an Anfield victory like they’ve won the Premier League, European Cup, World Cup, Olympic Games and Strictly Come Dancing instead of Liverpool officially condemning them to a quarter-of-a-century of abject failure isn’t particularly appealing.

Losing 5-0 at Aston Villa in the League Cup quarter-final after fielding a team of toddlers was easy to swat aside, but we will never, ever, ever hear the end of it if Everton beat the European and World champions at Anfield, irrespective of Liverpool’s starting XI.

History remembers scorelines, not weakened teams, and the only acceptable result on a Merseyside derby day at Anfield is a Liverpool win. Thankfully, the Reds will have a talisman up front who knows what it takes to beat the Blues.

Divock Origi, it’s over to you. Again…

Chris McLoughlin writes for This Is Anfield each week; he’s also senior writer for the Official LFC Matchday Programme and LFC Magazine. You can order both here.