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Misfiring Darwin Nunez still being backed by Jurgen Klopp

Darwin Nunez's first game back from the World Cup with Liverpool did not go to plan as the Reds were beaten 3-2 by Manchester City in the last 16 of the Carabao Cup.

In a clash of the Premier League titans, it was Pep Guardiola's men who prevailed with Nathan Ake the surprise winning goalscorer after City were pegged back twice. 

Both managers put out strong teams for the cup clash with Nunez one of several players featuring who played in the World Cup in Qatar. 

Despite his willing running and an excellent assist for Mohamed Salah's equaliser early in the second half, it was another blank from the big-money signing. 

He will be hoping to kickstart his season on Boxing Day when Liverpool travel to Aston Villa and he can be backed to score there anytime at 13/8.

What: Aston Villa v Liverpool 
When: 17:30, Monday 26th December 2022
Where: Villa Park, Birmingham 
How to watch: Amazon Prime Sport 
Odds: Aston Villa 15/4, Draw 3/1, Liverpool 7/10

Nunez struggling to replicate Benfica form 

There was plenty of excitement when Liverpool paid Benfica £64million plus any add ons for the Uruguayan who shone on the European stage last season. 

It was his powerful display of goalscoring against the Reds that made the footballing world sit up and take note. 

He scored twice in the 6-4 aggregate Champions League loss and Klopp was suitably impressed. Overall, he bagged 34 goals in 41 games and his style of play made him look tailor-made for the Premier League. 

However, a ludicrous red card picked up in Liverpool's first home game of the season against Crystal Palace was a sign of things to come as Nunez's season has stuttered. 

So far, he has scored nine goals in 19 appearances - a decent return but one that many fans were expecting to be closer to a one-in-one ratio. 

He does bring great movement and pace to the Liverpool frontline and has certainly provided something different to their other number nine option in Roberto Firmino, who has always been more of a link man.

However, in terms of raw numbers, he has not cut the mustard just yet. His finishing has generally been erratic and that had led to criticism from some quarters about his general output in a Liverpool shirt.

Haaland comparisons live on 

One of the great narratives pre-season was the would-be battle between City and Liverpool - aided by the arrivals of two world-class forwards. 

Even though the pair have dominated the Premier League for the last four years, there is always that desire to improve and a new striker apiece looked to have made their squads even more irresistible. 

Erling Haaland's goalscoring return so far has been genuinely phenomenal. 

The 22-year-old Norwegian has scored 24 times in 19 games and the instinctively acrobatic finish against Liverpool in Thursday's game was a mark of his confidence being sky-high. 

Nunez has not got close to the accolades and plaudits that Haaland has received this season and has a fair way to go to match the achievements of his rival.

Liverpool can still bank on Nunez to come good In the Premier League, having managed to score five goals in 10 games. 

It isn't a bad return by any stretch but standards are increasing so much that world-class forwards need to start scoring one-in-one to keep up. 

However, his overall play has been better than those numbers suggest. For starts, he has hit the woodwork four times in the Premier League this season - more than any other player. 

If all these chances had been converted then the conversation would be completely different and many would be raving about the frontman. 

Fine margins are the difference yet again. The Uruguayan has also had 39 shots this season which is the joint seventh-highest total - proof that he is at least getting into goal-scoring positions and not hiding, which some out-of-form strikers tend to do. 

On Thursday night, he showcased his pace on the break as he waltzed past Aymeric Laporte to square the ball to Salah who tapped into the back of the net. 

Nunez will, in some ways, always be overshadowed by Salah given the Egyptian’s stunning record as a Liverpool player since his move to the club in 2017. 

However, Salah is now 30 and Liverpool have to look to the future. While Nunez may not have set the Premier League alight a la Haaland, there has been evidence to suggest he is on the right path.

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