Key games in which Liverpool’s new spearhead can make a difference

Our Liverpool writer Dave Tindall reveals how Darwin Nunez can have a major impact on Jurgen Klopp’s men after signing for Benfica.

Scoring 147 goals in a season suggests Liverpool don’t exactly have a problem when it comes to getting the ball in the net. And yet, when they needed it most, the Reds failed in the big games last season.

In three finals against Chelsea (twice) and Real Madrid, Jurgen Klopp’s men have not scored once in five and a half hours of football combined.

Penalty kicks took them over the line against Chelsea in the Carabao Cup and FA Cup, but shooting a blank cost the Reds in the Champions League final.

And despite another stellar Premier League campaign that left them one point behind Manchester City’s 93-point tally, it was worth noting that liverpool failed to score a single win over the other three teams that finished in the top four.

At first glance, it seems their defense was the problem. They played a pair of 2-2 draws with Man City and had 1-1 and 2-2 stalemates with Chelsea and Tottenham.

But there is no law against winning 3-2. Spurs went to the Etihad and triumphed in a five-goal thriller. If Liverpool had done the same, they would have won the title.

Although there has been a lot of speculation and talk about whether Manchester City would be even better with a hard-core striker, that same conversation has never happened about Liverpool.

It didn’t seem necessary the way Mo Salah was hitting them. Sadio Mane and Diogo Jota also kept the goals.

But when Mane made it clear it was time to leave Anfield, the Reds decided not to substitute a match.

Nunez a real No. 9

Instead of choosing a striker who COULD play in the middle, they chose one who played there. An outright number nine in the form of Darwin Nunez.

When Spurs won 3-2 at Man City, it was their centre-forward, Harry Kane, who made the difference. He put Tottenham ahead and then appeared to score a stoppage-time winner.

Now Liverpool are hoping Nunez can do something similar.

The signs certainly look good. The two biggest games he played last season were against Liverpool themselves, both Champions League quarter-finals.

The then-Benfica man scored the home side’s only goal in a 3-1 first leg loss and then netted eight minutes from time to give the Portuguese a 3-3 draw at Anfield. He had two more goals ruled out that night.

That 82nd-minute goal at Anfield is worth coming back to. Why? In these six draws against City, Chelsea and Spurs, Liverpool never scored beyond the 76th minute.

Could Nunez be the man – like Kane – who finds those last big game winners when it’s all on the line?

Well, there is more evidence. Benfica weren’t expected to win the second leg of their last 16 Champions League clashes with Ajax.

But who appeared in the 77th minute when the match was blocked at 0-0 to score the decisive goal? Yes, Darwin Nunez.

Key matches where Nunez can be a game-changer

So when the Premier League games were published on Thursday, it would have been smart for Klopp and his team to send a copy to Nunez, with the games against City, Chelsea and Spurs highlighted in yellow (Salah will take care of the Man Utd those).

Liverpool need to fix glaring problem after Nunez deal

Liverpool have strengthened their front line with Darwin Nunez, but midfield is another pressing priority for Jurgen Klopp to address.

Because, in a title race decided by such thin margins, these are the games where Nunez can repay significant installments of his hefty £85million fee.

Here they are:

September 17 – Chelsea (away)

October 15 – Man City (home)

November 5 – Tottenham (away)

January 21 – Chelsea (home)

April 1 – Man City (away)

April 29 – Tottenham (home)

It’s an equal gap with three games before the Winter World Cup and three after showpiece Qatar.

Nunez’s Uruguay is also in the same group as Portugal, Ghana and South Korea.

When Klopp got his man, the Reds boss said of the striker, who scored 34 goals in 41 games for Benfica last season: “He plays without fear, he is powerful, I know he will excite our fans.”

Nunez certainly will; especially if he can work his goalscoring magic in Liverpool’s biggest games.

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