Darwin Nunez flak is undeserved despite league-high shot count

Darwin Nunez struggled against Luton Town but the level of criticism aimed at the Liverpool striker is undeserved.

Darwin Nunez just couldn't find any luck against Luton Town - though, some may argue he could have made his own luck. The Uruguayan struggled in front of goal as Liverpool battled for a breakthrough at Kenilworth Road.

The closest he came was in the first half as Nunez controlled a ball over the top from Trent Alexander-Arnold before hitting the crossbar with his effort. He'd later miss an open goal from all of three yards - though, the flag did go up.

All in all, Liverpool's no.9 had nine efforts in the fixture. This is a joint Premier League-high for the season and so it does look quite bad without context.

But context is important here.

While Nunez did have nine efforts, few of them were actually of any great quality. Opta data on Fbref shows that his expected goals from the combined nine was actually 0.9 - meaning he technically wasn't expected to score from them.

Of course, elite strikers are supposed to outweigh their xG and score when your average player wouldn't. Nunez isn't necessarily that type of player, though. He's more the kind who might miss a guilt-edged chance but will then pop up to score when he has absolutely no right to. You can re-watch the winner against Bournemouth for evidence.

But it's worth looking at the other two times this season that a striker has had nine efforts. Funnily enough, both came on September 16th as Erling Haaland had nine against West Ham United and Marcus Rashford matched it vs Brighton.

Rashford, like Nunez, didn't score from his nine and actually had an even lower xG than the Liverpool man with 0.7. Haaland did score - but had a far superior 2.5 xG. The Norwegian underperformed from his chances, if anything.

It shows the importance of quality over quantity and that was certainly the issue for Liverpool against Luton. Yes, there were shots but the Reds just didn't create all that much of note. They did enough to have won the game - no question there - but it's not a case of them creating chance after chance for Nunez.

So while he certainly must do better, that's actually the case for the entire team after Sunday.

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