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Liverpool analysis – Darwin Nunez faces brutal Cody Gakpo reality as FSG banner reaction exposes truth



Liverpool analysis – Darwin Nunez faces brutal Cody Gakpo reality as FSG banner reaction exposes truth

Gakpo highlights Nunez reality

The contrasting fortunes of Liverpool’s two big-money forward arrivals this season have rarely been as glaringly apparent as here.

On one hand there was Cody Gakpo, now fully established as a the long-term replacement for Roberto Firmino and whose pressing, running and quick feet as the attacking spearhead helped the Reds blow away Tottenham Hotspur during an electrifying opening 15 minutes.

And then there was Darwin Nunez, who emerged for the final 20 minutes, appeared short of confidence and understanding with Liverpool’s pattern of play and was unable to prevent Richarlison from touching in an equaliser.

MATCH RECAP: Liverpool vs Tottenham final score, highlights and reaction

READ MORE: Jurgen Klopp opens up on Liverpool summer transfer plan and John Henry talks

Nunez’s debut season hasn’t been a failure. Far from it, the Uruguayan’s 15-goal return reasonable given the inevitable issues of adapting to a new league, team and language, along with a new role.

Gakpo, though, has been more suited to a swifter integration to Jurgen Klopp’s ways. His excellent run in behind and cross set up Luis Diaz’s goal, while his feet were too quick for Cristian Romero in winning the penalty for Liverpool’s third.

The Dutchman is also in form, now having been directly involved in 30 goals in 30 league appearances for PSV and Liverpool this season, an equal split of 15 goals and 15 assists. Four goal contributions have come in his last four outings.

And with Jota and Diaz back firing on the left flank, Nunez will now know the reality of a squad with such depth of resources in attack when available.

Salah banishes doubt

It wasn’t the most important penalty Mohamed Salah has taken against Tottenham Hotspur.

But after successive failures from the spot, the Egyptian was no doubt harbouring some doubts when he faced down visiting goalkeeper Fraser Forster.

Playing the percentages, Salah lifted his effort down the centre of the goal. And while ultimately helping Liverpool to a dramatic victory, it also gave the winger deserved reward for another hugely impressive showing on his 300th Reds outing despite only occasional protection from lamentable referee Paul Tierney.

Indeed, arguably the largest cheers he received from Anfield came from his defensive work first half, when Salah first sprinted back to stop a Tottenham counter and later nicked the ball off a dawdling Harry Kane.

Goals, though, are a forward’s currency. And Salah remains quids in, his 135th Liverpool league goal moving him equal fifth on the all-time list alongside Harry Chambers, and taking him to within two of a fourth 30-goal haul in a season for the Reds.

The Egyptian has also scored in his last seven Anfield outings with his eighth league goal against Tottenham equalling the previous best tallies of Roger Hunt, Kenny Dalglish and Ian Rush. Salah, though, has long merited his place alongside those Liverpool legends.

Plane facts for FSG

Shortly after the teams departed down the tunnel following a breathless first half, a plane flew overheard with a banner declaring “LFC – SOX – PENGUINS. SAME PROBLEMS. FSG OUT”.

The lack of reaction from the crowd indicated those vocally critical of the owners remain largely not in attendance at Anfield.

Nevertheless, the pattern of the game – even if it continued Liverpool’s impressive record against the traditional top six this season – underlined that any subdued grumbles of discontent will grow louder if the necessary work on the squad isn’t backed with hard-earned cash in the summer transfer window.

Elsewhere, this was also another decent showing from Trent Alexander-Arnold, whose creativity caused Tottenham problems, particularly during the first half.

His cross for Curtis Jones’ well-taken opener was a sixth assist in five games, and remarkably the first time two Scousers had combined for a Liverpool goal in the Premier League since Rickie Lambert set up Steven Gerrard in the 6-1 defeat at Stoke City eight years ago. For Jones, having not scored since September 2021, it was worth the wait.


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