Darwin Nuñez xG comparisons show his finishing is a valid talking point

While Liverpool eventually ran out worthy winners over Newcastle in a thrilling New Year's Day contest, the game was a frustrating one for Darwin Nuñez.

The Uruguayan became the hero of the reverse fixture back in August when he came off the bench to score a late brace at St. James Park and give a ten-man Liverpool a 2-1 victory.

That display helped solidify the new No. 9 as Jurgen Klopp's preferred option at striker and led many to believe the former Benfica man was ready to explode after a mixed first season.

There were no similar Darwin heroics on a rain-drenched Anfield in January, however.

Liverpool's Premier League record-breaking xG and massive shot count ultimately resulted in four goals and three points – despite some nervy moments along the way – but Nuñez was not among the scorers.

The 24-year-old did bag an assist – and his link-up play with Mohamed Salah is continually impressive – but his finishing remains the big issue.

As noted by Squawka, in just over an hour against Newcastle, Nuñez racked up an xG of 1.61 (from eight shots) – the most of any player without scoring so far this season.

Speaking after the match, Jurgen Klopp was quick to play down concerns over his forward's finishing.

He said: "Nobody has to worry about Darwin. He is fine. Played a really good game. Decided the game with an unselfish pass to Mo.

"We needed him there. As long as Darwin has all these moments today which he has today, it is all fine. I don't know exactly what amount of goals he has scored in the season but a lot, Darwin will score and there is no doubt about it.

"The only problem is if the public wouldn't watch us, it is all fine. Because then it is just he is doing right and he has to start again and again. He gets questioned on social media and that disturbs slightly."

While Klopp has plenty of reasons to be happy with Nuñez's general play, his finishing is a valid talking point.

Nuñez ended a 12-match goalscoring drought during Liverpool's 2-0 victory over Burnley on Boxing Day, but his tally of five Premier League goals from an xG of 11.13 this season leaves a lot of room for improvement.

Darwin Nunez, Liverpool vs Newcastle, Propaganda

As noted by Anfield Watch's Sam McGuire, the Liverpool No. 9 is the only top-flight player with a double digit xG on Target total not to have a minimum of 11 goals in 2023/24.

Meanwhile, no other player in the Premier League has missed more big chances than Nuñez so far this season (18).

It's obvious to everyone who has watched a Liverpool game this season that Darwin is as capable of the sublime as the ridiculous and he is clearly a much more settled and improved player from 2022/23.

There is also an argument to be made that Nuñez is actually adding value to his chances and that the real issue would be if he wasn't doing the work required to get the opportunities in the first place.

However, Liverpool need the forward players to step up with Salah now unavailable at a key juncture in the season and, at some point, the chances need to start going in.

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