Liverpool 4-2 Newcastle: Record-breaking Reds leave Klopp with major headache after Salah demolition job

Robin Bairner
Jurgen Klopp, Liverpool vs Newcastle, 2023/24
© ProShots

Liverpool looked every inch Premier League champions as they demolished Newcastle 4-2 at Anfield on Monday to round out their festive calendar in the most impressive of styles.

Jurgen Klopp, whose most worrying moment of the night came after dropping his wedding ring in the middle of the pitch when saluting his players at full-time, watched his side create an all-time high xG of 7.27 over the course of the match in what was perhaps the most devastating illustration of the quality of chance they created over the course of the fixture.

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Mohamed Salah, whose future remains unclear due to a contract that expires in June 2025, gave perhaps the greatest illustration why Liverpool must renew his deal and withstand interest from the Saudi Pro League.

But for all the Egyptian’s class – he scored two, directly created another and was a catalyst to the fourth – there is one major worry looming for Klopp’s attack.

Liverpool need Darwin to come good

Darwin Nunez, Liverpool
© ProShots – Darwin Nunez, Liverpool

Salah is about to depart for the Africa Cup of Nations with Egypt, potentially rendering him absent until the middle of February. Luis Diaz and Diogo Jota are showing signs of stirring into some form after their respective injury problems, but Darwin Nunez’s wastefulness is an ongoing trend.

There is an ardent section of Liverpool fans who retain trust in the Uruguay international. The goals will come, they argue. But they are not.

Nunez alone accounted for nearly 1.7 of Liverpool’s xG, testimony to his ability to get into scoring positions, but his inability to profit from these is underlined by the fact that he has scored only one Premier League goal since the beginning of November.

Darwin Nunez vs Newcastle

Minutes 64
Goals 0
Assists 1
Big chances missed 3
Shots 8
On target 5
Touches 27
Passes/Completed 10/8

Across the 64 minutes he was on the field, he contrived to miss three opportunities classed as a ‘big chance’, continuing a frustrating trend for the 24-year-old in front of goal.

Although Jota and Diaz are now firing, Klopp will have to rely on Nunez for potentially six weeks, including two matches against Arsenal (one in the FA Cup), Chelsea and both legs of the EFL Cup semi against Fulham.

The questions for Klopp are twofold: will Nunez continue missing chances and, perhaps just as pertinently given his historically poor conversion rate, will they continue to come at the same rate without Salah?

Liverpool answered many questions with their blistering display against Newcastle, but perhaps the hardest for Klopp and Nunez this season will come over the period of Salah’s absence.

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