Darwin Nunez: Liverpool striker’s standout form shows he’s ready to put slow Premier League start behind him
Liverpool fans could be entirely forgiven for allowing any lingering doubts over Darwin Nunez to creep into the start of this season.
Even with an impressive goal haul behind him in preseason, the Uruguayan picked up where he left off in May in being consigned to the bench for the opening three games.
He even allowed his personal frustration over that state of play to boil over in heading straight down the tunnel following a four-minute outing in the victory over Bournemouth.
But then that remarkable two-goal cameo against Newcastle United happened, forcing Jurgen Klopp to concede on his reluctance to change a winning team.
And, after backing up that match-winning contribution up with a fine performance in a convincing win against Aston Villa, Nunez rather suddenly looks like an undroppable figure in a new-look Liverpool attack.
Darwin Nunez stats don’t tell the whole story
Of course, it has been a long journey to this point, with the striker’s debut season perhaps unfairly being remembered more for some shocking misses rather than an entirely respectable 15-goal haul across all competitions.
But the most worrying aspect of the player’s first 12 months at Anfield was the fact he started just three of the 11-match unbeaten run that ended the season, scoring only once.
If Nunez was going to show his best after settling in, then surely it would have happened by the final months of his first campaign.
Many pointed to a slow start at Benfica, which was followed by the explosion that earned the forward his big-money move to Merseyside. However, his case was hardly being helped by the fact that Cody Gakpo had arrived in January and slotted seamlessly into the attack. The Dutchman was clearly more adept in defending from the front, and that was particularly crucial in improving Liverpool given their struggles in midfield last season.
Fortunately, the landscape has also changed on that front, as evidenced by the nature of Sunday’s victory over Villa.
New-look Liverpool midfield can help Nunez thrive
It was only four months ago that Unai Emery’s side arrived at Anfield and bullied their hosts in the centre of the park en route to a point that would have deservedly been more if not for a last-gasp Roberto Firmino intervention.
This time around, however, the visitors received a taste of their own medicine, a reconstructed Reds midfield completely controlling matters to provide a platform for the rest of the team.
That allowed Nunez to focus on doing what he has always done best: getting into dangerous positions and making them count. The 24-year-old managed a match-high five shots against Aston Villa, with two of them hitting the woodwork and one of those forcing Matty Cash to put through his own net.
— Liverpool FC (@LFC) September 3, 2023
He also showed some nice touches in build-up play — a sure-fire sign of a forward whose confidence is high.
The challenge now for Nunez is to stave off the inconsistency that marred his first season as a Liverpool player, and saw him start this campaign further down the pecking order than he would have liked.
But, if the past two games are anything to go by, then any question marks over the striker’s long-term prospects at Anfield are sure to evaporate pretty quickly.
Premier League 2023/24 TV channels, live streams
|Hong Kong||—||Now TV|
|India||Star Sports||Disney+, Hotstar,|
|Malaysia||Astro SuperSport||Astro Go|
|New Zealand||Sky Sport||Sky Sport Now,|
|UK||Sky Sports, TNT Sports||NOW TV, Sky Go,|
UK: Matches are carried across Sky Sports and TNT Sports streaming and TV platforms, with select matches on Amazon Prime.
USA: Select matches are televised on USA Network (English) and Telemundo or Universo (Spanish), and all three channels can be streamed on Fubo. The rest of the matches are streamed on NBC platform Peacock for subscribers.
Canada: Every Premier League game this season is live streaming exclusively via Fubo in Canada, with discounts currently at more than 9% for annual plans and more than 20% for quarterly and monthly plans.
Australia: Fans in Australia can stream every match live and on demand on Optus Sport.
India: Star Sports network has the rights to show Premier League matches in India. As well as an English broadcast on Star Sports Select, select matches will be available via regional feeds on Star Sports 3 (in Bengali, English, Kannada, Malayalam), Star Sports 1 (Bangla) and Star Sports 1 (Tamil).