Does Jurgen Klopp have to make changes in the final third?

Christian Benteke Belgium

In the final third, Liverpool have a conundrum to crack.

Two strikers are available for Liverpool's festive period, both Belgian and both imposing figures, but the more senior of the two does not seem to be setting the world alight at Anfield at the moment. 

This shouldn't be viewed as a slight to Christian Benteke, he has shown sparks of why the club felt the need to spend £32.5 million on him in the summer. 

An overhead kick against Manchester United which is likely to be a contender for goal of the season, his goal-scoring cameos against both Southampton and Chelsea and his fine touch and finish in a win over Bordeaux all demonstrate the attributes he possesses.

But something is missing, it seems. When Benteke plays from the start he seems to struggle to fit in, whether he isn't providing enough movement or if he isn't getting the service from other players. There is perhaps an element of teammates trying to get to know each other. 

However, after recent performances from Divock Origi, one that was arguably the best individual performance from a Liverpool player in a 6-1 win over Southampton in the League Cup, and his cameo that salvaged a point against West Bromwich Albion, the 20-year-old should seriously be considered for a starting place. 

There has been a marked improvement in the younger of the two Belgians after his spell out of the side following four consecutive starts at the beginning of Klopp's Anfield reign. 

At first he looked like a lost soul, but when Klopp was opting to play Roberto Firmino up front in certain games as a 'false nine', and Christian Benteke otherwise, there was time away for Origi to work on his game, the pressure was off a little when he returned, and he has made progressive changes to his game. 

Then there is what Benteke proved when he was returning from injury: the effect he can have on the side and the opponents from the bench. Here are some stats from those two games, compared to his average Premier League performances under Jurgen Klopp so far - including starts and substitute appearances. 

Substitute appearances when returning from injury October 25-31:

  PositionTeamAverage mins between aerial duel wonAverage mins between scoring attemptsGoalsAppearancesMins Played
Christian Benteke FW Liverpool 8.88 23.67 2 2 71

Total appearances in Premier League since Jurgen Klopp took charge:

  PositionTeamAverage mins between aerial duel wonAverage mins between scoring attemptsGoalsAppearancesMins Played
Christian Benteke FW Liverpool 11.03 23.35 2 7 397

One telling aspect here is the impact Benteke is making in the air from the bench, and he seems to be capitalising on tiring defences - and is finding the net, indicating that he is having the time and space to be that more clinical.

His goal against Southampton was an example of giving the defence a more imposing threat to work with, while Chelsea saw him win both a header proving pivotal in a goal for Philippe Coutinho and showing composure that you would expect from a one-in-two striker for his strike.

He was a completely different option to Firmino, Adam Lallana and Coutinho taking it in turns to play through the middle.

The amount of minutes on average between scoring attempts are relatively similar, but one would question where those shots are being struck from.

It seems as though it was identified during that time that Liverpool and Klopp knew how to use him as an impact player against tiring defences; the conundrum is how do you use him from the start.

Liverpool could go on trying to use Benteke as it is in order to try to make it click - but that could cost them much needed points in the short term when they could close the gap on the sides above them in a topsy turvy league.

Time on the training field seems to be as important as the opponent they are facing in the next game, so maybe things will be mixed up a little in the coming weeks. 

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