Jurgen Klopp have an underlying Darwin Nunez and Mohamed Salah problem only change may solve
Liverpool forward Darwin Nunez and Mohamed Salah have something in common with some recent high-profile misses
This season, one of Liverpool’s many issues has been their persistent inability to take advantage of their best opportunities. They have only scored both of their two shots with the highest expected goal value in one of their 20 league games.
The Reds have wasted 45 huge (or “clear-cut”) chances according to Opta, which is at least seven more than any other Premier League team.
There are worse issues to have since their attack continues to be top-four level while their defence certainly does not, but a few more goals would undoubtedly cover up the team’s weaknesses at the back.
In the nine league games they have led this season, Liverpool has won eight and drawn one. Darwin Nunez has missed the biggest chances of any player in the division (16), and Mohamed Salah is tied for third with 12. (with Erling Haaland in-between with 14).
In one of the last two games, each Reds forward missed a tremendous opportunity. Harvey Elliott put Salah in the clear and he missed the goal at Brighton during the FA Cup match.
At Molineux, it was his Uruguayan teammate who was at fault, but at least his shot was on goal after Trent Alexander-deft Arnold’s long pass had split the Wolves’ defence in two.
Salah’s shot was his second furthest left touch of the 2-1 loss on the south coast and a look at his shot map on Understat shows how rarely he scores from that sort of position.
Among his 125 Premier League goals for the club (second to Robbie Fowler’s 128), only two have been from left of the six-yard box: his unforgettable strike to seal a 2-0 win against Manchester United in January 2020, and a goal at West Ham in only his 11th league appearance.
The Brighton opportunity had a better xG value than any he has missed from that area in the league, but that doesn’t change the fact that Salah is less effective from that side of the box. However, the overall study suggested that if he were in top form, he would score from there.
Nunez’s sample size for analysis, whether with Liverpool or prior, is smaller. However, the pattern is essentially the same. Darwin had a clear shot against Wolves from just inside the six-yard box’s width, to the right of the penalty area.
He had attempted nine shots in the box and to the right of the goalpost, but only one of them has been successful. even though
Now, look at his 10 goals for Liverpool. Three of Nunez’s five in the league have been hit from the left of the penalty spot, as have all three in Europe as well as his strikes in the Community Shield and FA Cup. The goal against Wolves in the latter was from a near-identical spot as where Salah had his chance at Brighton.
Similar to Nunez’s miss at Molineux, Salah has caused a lot of harm from that spot over the years. Naturally, the pair cannot always be positioned on their respective sides of the field; otherwise, these opportunities would not have existed.
But if Jurgen Klopp can figure out a way to get them in such advantageous situations more frequently, Liverpool may not appear as frequently on the list of “big chances missed.”