One of the new additions to the squad, Darwin Núñez has had a bit of a rocky start, along with the rest of his teammates this season. However, the Uruguayan proved himself on Friday against Leicester, helping to contribute to the winning goal of the game.
Despite the fact that it was ultimately determined an own goal, Núñez did all of the work to engineer the opportunity in front of Danny Ward’s net. HIs effort on the break struck inside post and was then knocked in by the hapless Wout Faes, for the defender’s second own goal of the evening.
After the match, Trent Alexander-Arnold was asked about his teammate’s contribution since arriving at the club. Alexander-Arnold hit back at the critics who have judged Núñez solely on number of goals, asserting that there’s more to his game than that one statistic.
“I think I speak on behalf of all the lads: he’s been, I think, outstanding since he came in,” Alexander-Arnold said.
“People will judge him on his goals and that’s part of being a striker, that’s part of life. But I think he can keep walking off the pitch with his head held high because he is getting in positions that are really, really hurting the opposition.
“He’s such a threat, he’s getting in behind, he’s holding the ball up, he’s flicking balls on, he’s doing everything that the manager has asked of him. His pressing, his attitude, his desire, you can’t question any of it.”
It’s entirely reasonable for players coming into the team to take some time to adjust to Klopp’s aggressive pressing and signature end-to-end style of play. However, fans always want instant results, so the fact that Núñez hasn’t immediately lit up the scoreboard like Mohamed Salah, Sadio Mané, or Diogo Jota when they first arrived means that the player has been hit with an unfair amount of criticism.
It’s nice to see him teammates coming to his defense — particularly Alexander-Arnold, who knows a thing or two about getting his performances lambasted in the press. It’s hard to remember that though it’s about to be the new year, Liverpool have actually only played 16 league games. There’s still more than half the season left to play. Hopefully we’ll start to see Núñez grow into his role as we progress into the back half of the season.