Premier League outfit Everton head to northern France to face Ligue 1 club Lille in the Europa League and there will be one battle to keep a close eye on.
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At the Stade Pierre-Mauroy on Thursday, Everton’s USMNT ‘keeper Tim Howard will come up against a familiar foe: Belgian international striker Divock Origi.
Origi, 19, signed for Liverpool for $17 million over the summer but is spending one more season at Lille, on loan, to aid his development. The Belgian striker is being watched closely by fans of Everton’s city neighbors Liverpool, as the Reds’ striking issues continue with the poor form of Mario Balotelli and injury to Daniel Sturridge. Some reports had suggested that Liverpool may pay a nominal fee to trigger a clause which allows Origi to arrive at Anfield this January instead of next summer but Brendan Rodgers has since denied that.
The bustling Belgian forward will certainly be Lille’s danger man on Thursday, as the Liverpool man looks to damage Everton’s chances of qualifying for the knockout stages of the Europa League. However, Howard is confident he can thwart Origi once again, just like he did in the World Cup in Brazil this summer.
“Origi is a good young player who is quite raw but very talented on the ball,” Howard told Evertonfc.com. “Over in Brazil we had the feeling he might be playing that game so we did a lot of work studying what he might do and what his strengths were. I know what he likes to do, but that doesn’t mean I will always be capable of stopping him. He is a good player but I have a little bit of success against him – and hopefully that will continue.”
Howard, humble as ever, played down his sensational performance against Origi in Salvador. The Belgian striker had numerous efforts on goal during Howard’s record 15-save night in Brazil during the last 16 World Cup match.
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It seems as though heading into this one, Howard well and truly has Origi’s number. However, the young Liverpool striker will see this as an opportunity to become a hero at Anfield before he’s even played for the Merseyside club. If he’s instrumental in beating Liverpool’s fierce rivals Everton then he’ll become just that. Keep an eye on this battle by clicking the follow live link above, as Everton look to follow up their win of Wolfsburg and a draw vs. Krasnodar by getting a positive result in France.