Nunez breaks Newcastle hearts to save Liverpool as Klopp’s Salah worries ease

Darwin Nunez salvaged an incredible late win for 10-man Liverpool as they overcame a woeful first half against Newcastle. Nunez came off the bench to score a remarkable brace 

Express Sport looks at five talking points from Liverpool’s victory at St. James’ Park. 

Nunez saves Liverpool blushes

Just two minutes before Nunez slammed home Liverpool’s equaliser, the Uruguayan proved why some fans are losing patience with this performances. A lofted ball over the top should have sent the striker through on goal, but his poor touch saw him crowded out by Newcastle’s defenders. 

Minutes later and an almost identical pass had a contrasting effect. Nunez wonderfully controlled a long pass, took a touch towards goal and hammered home via the post. 

After a below-par Liverpool performance in which there will be a long debate over whether they even deserved a point, Nunez saved Liverpool’s blushes. He stormed through on goal and finished excellent past Nick Pope. 

Salah could leave Liverpool in hot water

Klopp has already seen two key stars leave this summer and will be praying that Salah does not head to the exit. The forward has been linked with Saudi Arabia and despite a coy response by Klopp to reports last week, those rumours refuse to disappear. He could join Fabinho and Jordan Henderson in the Middle East. 

A Liverpool team without Salah would look especially ordinary. Without a significant replacement – a difficult challenge this late in the window – the Reds can wave goodbye to Champions League qualification for another year. 

While Cody Gakpo, Luis Diaz show promise, they are not on Salah’s level. Klopp may, of course, hope that Nunez can reach his potential – but there remains a lack of consistency from the former Benfica man. There are few players already at Anfield who would be able to steer Liverpool back in the right direction if Salah leaves. 

Van Dijk’s woes

There is a growing consensus that Virgil van Dijk’s powers have waned significantly. Sent off for the first time in his Liverpool career for a cynical kick on Alexander Isak as the last man, this was an error that Van Dijk would not have made even 18 months ago. 

It is not just fans who think that. Sky commentator Gary Neville observed: “The Van Dijk of a few season ago wouldn’t be making that challenge there.”

It is evidence of just how much Van Dijk has struggled in recent years. The Dutchman in his prime would not have been turned so easily by Isak – he would have been positioned perfectly to prevent the striker from breaking through on goal. 

If Klopp is to succeed in rebuilding Liverpool, finding his long-term replacement for Van Dijk will be one of his key tasks. The 32-year-old appears to be coming to the end of his time as an elite defender. 

First 80 minutes prove Klopp’s tough rebuild task

Klopp’s need for a rebuild has come quicker than anyone might have imagined when he led Liverpool to their first top-flight title in three decades just three years ago. And it is a far bigger task than Klopp might have expected. 

The German has never successfully re-rebuilt a team after an initial period of dominance. His Mainz team peaked in mid-table before relegation to Bundesliga 2 and a failure to win immediate promotion back to the top-flight. 

Borussia Dortmund never again toppled Bayern Munich after their successive Bundesliga titles in 2011 and 2012. Four 80 minutes on Tyneside, Liverpool looked like they were travelling in the same direction as Klopp’s former clubs. 

Despite Nunez’s brace, they remain as far away from Manchester City as they have been since their Premier League triumph in 2020. This incredible late turnaround should not change that fact. 

Klopp needs more from three stars of Liverpool’s peak

When you think of an elite Liverpool team, Alexander-Arnold, Van Dijk and Andy Robertson are all key components. But the struggles of the quartet epitomise how far the Anfield outfit have fallen. 

None of those four played well against Newcastle – and they were bailed out by the far less experienced Nunez. Alexander-Arnold should have been sent off in the first half while Van Dijk did indeed see red himself. The usually strong-willed Robertson lost his battle with Joelinton. 

We use your sign-up to provide content in ways you’ve consented to and to improve our understanding of you. This may include adverts from us and 3rd parties based on our understanding. You can unsubscribe at any time. More info

Source: Read Full Article