Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp is more concerned about Darwin Nunez’s physical state than his mental one after the Uruguay international emerged as a doubt for the crucial trip to Arsenal.
Nunez set a new record for the number of times one player has hit the frame of the goal in a game with four in Wednesday’s 4-1 win over Chelsea, taking his tally to nine in the Premier League alone and six more than anyone else.
The 24-year-old is regularly criticised for not scoring enough but Nunez has 11 goals in all competitions and an assist count also in double figures.
However, after an all-action display in which he provided the cross for Luis Diaz to score the fourth, he left Anfield in a protective boot having played for more than an hour with a foot problem which may keep him out of Sunday’s clash at the Emirates.
“I don’t know if Darwin will be available or not because after 20 minutes someone stepped on his foot (and it was) very painful after the game,” said Klopp.
“He only took the boot the game off after the game because he didn’t want to see it before. He knew there was something.
“Nothing broken, X-ray clear but swollen. We have to see if he can get his foot back in a football boot or not. That takes time.”
The injury did not appear to hamper Nunez too much and did not affect his confidence when he chose to step up for a penalty with regular taker Mohamed Salah sidelined – only to plant the spot-kick against an upright.
Klopp said that moment was a blow to the forward’s morale but his reaction proved there was no hangover.
“It impacts him of course, he is a human being. If it didn’t affect him that would be strange,” added the manager, whose press conference was briefly interrupted by a journalist’s phone on the desk receiving a call from his dentist which the manager seemed keen to answer.
“The penalty he missed that hit him definitely but he knows he will have another chance.
“But going through this game with the pain he had that shows so much more.
“I don’t judge Darwin because of the crossbar moments. I judge him for the assist for Lucho (Diaz).
“That is outstanding football-wise, not being bothered about your own bad luck, just staying in the game.”
But while Nunez can have numerous chances and not take one Liverpool also have a forward who is far more deadly.
While Nunez is averaging a goal every 186 minutes in the Premier League, scoring every 8.5 shots, with 32 of 60 shots on target, his team-mate is averaging one every 106 minutes, scoring every 2.3 shots, has had 12 of 19 shots on target and has not hit a post this season.
The Portugal international scored the opener against Chelsea in midweek in a run of four in as many games and 13 for the season.
“He just has it. He is a complete package. He knows that and everyone knows that,” said Klopp of Jota.
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“Diogo gets in each game knocks like crazy: if I go through the list of medical reports since Diogo is here he is in each and every one, not as injured but has a bruise, has a knock.
“A few injuries at a wrong time and he is out for too long or his numbers would look different.
“But he is literally flying. On top of that he always is an extremely smart footballer and can play all three positions up front, which is important when Mo is not here.”