It has been shown that Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp must find a way to include Darwin Nunez in his starting line-up ahead of the World Cup break to help out Mohamed Salah. A poll among Express Sport readers has seen Nunez endorsed to shake off the criticism he has faced and go on to be a success at Anfield. And Klopp needs Nunez more than ever right now with Luis Diaz and Diogo Jota both sidelined with long-term injuries.
Nunez, absent with a muscle problem, was greatly missed in Liverpool’s 1-0 loss to bottom-placed Nottingham Forest on Saturday. The Reds’ attack was too pedestrian and too predictable, and when they did create chances, they didn’t take them.
His threat in the air would have been welcome at the City Ground, where Virgil van Dijk squandered several chances from set pieces. The Uruguayan has had a mixed start at Liverpool, but he has started to find form.
He has only started six games for his new club since an initial £64m move from Benfica, but has scored in his last three starts against Arsenal, Rangers and West Ham. The Liverpool forward was much more dangerous in those games than against Forest.
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Jota and Diaz were also absent against Forest and won’t be available until after the World Cup. So having Nunez in the starting lineup is even more important for Klopp because only Salah offers real pace and direct running without Jota, Diaz and Nunez.
Salah was easily eliminated from the last game as the hosts doubled, or even tripled, their lead. Having Nunez alongside Salah makes Liverpool’s forward line that much more unpredictable and harder to manage. Nunez’s runs from behind help stretch the baseline while offering more outlet to target crossovers.
Manchester City have one of the best defensive records in the division and even they couldn’t handle it. Manuel Akanji had a torrid moment after Núñez came on from the bench at Anfield. Better decision-making would have given the centre-forward at least one goal and one assist.
In a poll of Express Sport readers, Liverpool’s summer signing, who has at times been mocked by his rivals on social media, has been backed by 61 per cent of nearly 7,500 voters for not be a failure with Klopp. The 23-year-old is now clearly making a good impression.
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There are improvements to be made, but he is clearly a major asset to the Merseyside team, especially at the moment. He’s incredibly fast for his height and it’s his acceleration, movement and unpredictability on the ball that make Liverpool a livelier attacking team when he shows up.
Fabio Carvalho, Roberto Firmino and Harvey Elliott, with all their qualities, do not offer the same dynamism as the South American, or Diaz or Jota. Finding a way to bring Nunez into the squad as a centre-forward or even left-back is therefore crucial for Klopp between now and November 12.
Liverpool need to bounce back again after losing at Forest, starting away from Ajax on Wednesday night where they can secure a place in the next round of the Champions League. And between now and the World Cup in Qatar, Liverpool will be a much more difficult team to manage with Núñez as a starter than without him; Plus, the more you play, the more people can keep winning.
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