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Liverpool: Darwin Nunez beginning to come alive

This year’s Community Shield painted a set of unique footballers in two very different ways, as Liverpool’s Darwin Nunez out trumped a certain Erling Haaland.

The Norwegian endured a difficult day at the office while Nunez thrived, scoring on his way to securing his first trophy in English football.

However, since that moment their fortunes have changed a great deal.

Haaland has been a cyborg, a complete menace, an alien. Whatever you want to call him, there has been no stopping the Manchester City sensation who has already scored 20 goals in just 13 outings.

For Nunez, it has been a very different tale, one of struggle and adversity.

During the Uruguayan’s first ten fixtures, he has scored just four times. Not quite enough to label him a flop but Michael Owen has described the difference in numbers between the two this term as “laughable”.

Indeed, when you consider that Liverpool paid £34m more than City did for their non-stop goal machine, it does defy belief.

Fortunately, Nunez finally appears to be finding his groove with two convincing performances now in quick succession.

His display against Arsenal last Sunday was not spine-tingling but he did cause Gabriel and co more problems than Premier League defences have been used to so far in 2022/23.

He and the now-injured Luis Diaz combined nicely for the Anfield outfit’s first equaliser of the day as the languid forward galloped into the penalty area before prodding the ball past Aaron Ramsdale.

The run was intelligent and the finish was instinctive. This is more like it thought the travelling support in Islington.

His display against Rangers in their 7-1 win in the Champions League was equally as encouraging with the 23-year-old finding the net with a well-composed finish from Roberto Firmino’s outrageous assist.

The Brazilian was the star of the show, scoring twice, until Mo Salah entered the fray and netted the competition’s fastest hat-trick in just over six minutes.

They will both rightfully receive acclaim but Nunez deserves a special mention too with the former Benfica man growing in confidence by the day and swiftly proving that he won’t be a flop in England.

The 6 foot 2 striker offers so much on the field of play and as he has shown now against Rangers and Arsenal, he doesn’t need many chances before the goalkeeper is picking the ball out of the back of the net courtesy of Nunez’s boot.

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At Ibrox, the attacker was a constant threat, relentlessly aiming to get in behind Giovanni van Bronckhorst’s defence, something illustrated by his three offsides.

It was a similar story against the Gunners when Gabriel was caught out by his desire to beat the back line for pace out of possession.

Although he only had 30 touches and made 12 accurate passes in Glasgow, this week has been a defining one in the early stages of the forward’s Liverpool career.

Having become somewhat of a punchbag for opposition fans in recent months, hopefully, he can now begin to truly kick on, shutting up the doubters and closing in on Haaland’s remarkable numbers in the process.