Liverpool Analysis: Darwin Time It Right as Wataru Endo Earns Embrace

Newsnow Liverpool brings you the Chief LFC writer for the ECHO, Ian Doyle’s Liverpool analysis after the Premier League match against Burnley on Boxing Day.

Jota and Nunez Time It Right

Their waits for a goal have been for differing reason. But Jurgen Klopp was right to regard Darwin Nunez and Diogo Jota as the “perfect” scorers for Liverpool here.

Nunez was never going to end his goal drought with a scruffy, scuffed effort. And, true to form, a first goal after 12 blank outings was a cracker. Having been dumped to the turf when making a pass to Cody Gakpo on the left, the Uruguayan was able to get back to his feet and trot to the edge of the area before firing a fine first-time shot into the bottom corner from the return pass.

It was telling Nunez, after recent outings on the left flank, appeared far more comfortable restored to his preferred central role, even if opportunities became scarce in the second half before being replaced in the 84th minute by Jota.

But the goal was timely given the Portuguese, a surprise inclusion on the bench after being sidelined for the past month with a hamstring problem, netted the clincher from an acute angle in typically forthright manner.

Jota may not be the most subtle or silky performer but Liverpool, having spurned a succession of chances in draws against Manchester United and Arsenal, have missed his blunt ruthlessness inside the area. Both he and Nunez offer Liverpool something different in attack just as they are about to lose Mohamed Salah for the foreseeable.

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Endo Earns Embrace

As Jota celebrated in front of the away end, Wataru Endo instead sprinted towards Jurgen Klopp for a big hug.

Small wonder. The Japan international had capped another excellent, relentless showing with a crunching tackle in midfield that set a devastating Liverpool counter-attack in motion.

That had been typical of Endo’s evening which, one dangerously wayward second-half crossfield pass apart, demonstrated how he has now firmly adjusted to both the speed and physicality of English football.

Certainly, the Reds are getting their money’s worth out of the 30-year-old before he departs for the Asia Cup after the New Year’s Day visit of Newcastle United.

Endo was the only player to have started all of Liverpool’s most recent five games, a figure that will most likely become six next week. In fact, ace statistician Michael Reid pointed out Endo became the first outfield player to start so many games in a short period of time since way back in January 2006.

After a slow start, the midfielder has emerged as a key figure at exactly the moment Klopp needed him given the ongoing absence of Alexis Mac Allister. Those tributes that flowed from Germany on his surprise arrival from Stuttgart are now being vindicated.

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Dutch Duo Contrast

Cliché as it may sound, Ryan Gravenberch has travelled something of a rollercoaster during his brief Liverpool career.

The manner in which Gravenberch hit the ground running, particularly in the Europa League, prompted questions why Bayern Munich were so reluctant to use the player before moving him on in the summer.

However, the Dutchman has lost his way somewhat in recent weeks, following indifferent performances as a starter against Crystal Palace and Manchester United with a poor cameo from the bench against Arsenal on Saturday.

Gravenberch, though, was given a seventh Premier League start here. And it was perhaps typical of his recent fortune that, after an inconsistent performance, the potential highlight of a fine assist for Harvey Elliott was controversially chalked off.

Meanwhile, compatriot Cody Gakpo’s 50th Liverpool appearance, here on the left flank, was that of a player benefiting from a run of games. The forward is primed for a happier New Year.

Source: Liverpool Echo

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