Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp has praised Darwin Nunez’s pressing after the Uruguayan started as the no.9 in the 1-0 win over Fulham on Wednesday evening.
The forward was tasked with pressuring Joao Palhinha and, while he didn’t always make the right decisions, Klopp was very happy with Nunez’s work rate, which he compared to a “racehorse”:
“In the beginning, defending the centre against Fulham is really important because Palhinha is there. He’s their connector and gets on the ball. So we were a bit too early out there from Darwin. We tried to fix that but he wanted it. He was a racehorse, he went for everybody.”
“We opened up and struggled slightly as they could control it for moments. But we could sort that. Apart from that, he played a really good game. He was always a proper option for us. We needed that. One of the main things we had to do tonight was offer in behind. We had three really quick players there. He played a good game.”
Nunez has had to bide his time for playing opportunities in recent weeks, and that has coincided with the return of Diogo Jota and Luis Diaz to full fitness following lengthy injuries.
You do feel that Klopp is less than convinced about Nunez’s ability to follow instructions, especially without the ball, and the fact that he singled out the striker for praise after the Fulham victory suggests some progress is being made.
It’s still debatable, though, whether Nunez is seen as a regular starter. Cody Gakpo looks very much at home playing through the middle and, with Salah unlikely to give up his position on the right, it means Nunez may have to compete with both Jota and Diaz for starting opportunities on the left flank.