Darwin Nunez supplies a welcome spark to flat Liverpool on Premier League debut

Jurgen Klopp made the determination to maintain summer season signing Darwin Nunez on the bench for the beginning of the Premier League season.

“Darwin needs time to settle and we have to mix it up a bit,” Klopp mentioned earlier than kick-off. “Bobby [Roberto Firmino] is a baller.”

At the end of Saturday’s 2-2 draw, you can guarantee Klopp was unconvinced by any of those statements.

Nunez watched from the bench in the first half as Liverpool were thoroughly clubbed by newly-promoted Fulham, whose energy, desire and physicality were too much for a red team that still seemed stuck in pre-season mode.

The excitement of their Community Shield victory over Manchester City faded incredibly quickly as Liverpool, whose starting line-up had six players over the age of 30 for the first time since February 1994, could not match the pace of the game.

Klopp chose to give his starting line-up five minutes after the break to turn things around, but when that didn’t happen, Nunez called.

The Uruguay striker came on in place of Firmino, who was unable to engage at all during his time on the pitch. In fact, his willingness to drop deep almost made it more difficult for Liverpool, and that became abundantly clear when Nunez found himself doing just the opposite.

A slow start resulted in a loss of possession which allowed Neeskens Kebano to hit the post and the passing of a chance to shoot in favor of a sloppy pass, but once Nunez entered the game his impact was clear.

Nunez’s arrival stretched the defense and provided a rallying point and seemed to change the tone of the game. He almost scored with a fine flick before making amends moments later with another deft touch which, in all fairness, must count more as a deflection after Tosin Adarabioyo’s unfortunate ricochet.

He pushed and pushed and pushed again, clearly disrupting Fulham’s back line, and his mere presence led to the accident that was Liverpool’s second equaliser.

Uncertainty in the Cottagers’ back line saw the ball deflect off Nunez and inadvertently into the path of Salah, whose routine push home secured the signing of the summer before the former both scored and assisted a goal on his Liverpool debut.

Klopp is right, Nunez needs time to settle into English football, but that is only so long as the manager can wait. The margins in the Premier League title race are so tight these days that a slow start could put Liverpool out of the race before it has even begun.

Expect to see Nunez within the beginning lineup from this level ahead.

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