Darwin Nunez thriving in Liverpool's thrill-a-minute attack

Darwin Nunez celebrates scoring Liverpool's second goal against Wets Ham - Darwin Nunez thriving in Liverpool's thrill-a-minute attack
Darwin Nunez looks far more settled in the Premier League this season - Shutterstock/Adam Vaughan

Darwin Nunez has finally adjusted to life at Liverpool. It is equally true that Liverpool have adjusted to him.

Since Nunez became Anfield’s most expensive purchase, Klopp has taken on the role of a gem cutter, applying the necessary polish to a striker who in his debut campaign only occasionally looked the right fit.

His match-winning double at Newcastle United earlier this season felt like a turning point. The star turn which effectively saw off one of the most accomplished West Ham sides to visit Anfield in 40 years carried an equally exciting maturity, the Uruguayan demonstrating why he is currently in possession of Liverpool’s No.9 jersey. The headline grabber was his wonderful 59th minute goal, receiving Alex Mac Allister’s sumptuous pass to execute a volley of similar class to give his side a game-changing lead. Nunez was also heavily involved in the move which led to Mohamed Salah’s first-half penalty.

As pleasing for Klopp was the sight of Nunez’s terrier-like chasing of Lucas Paqueta shortly after scoring, the manager celebrating the retrieval of possession as heartily as any of his team’s three goals.

“He has made massive steps in the last few weeks,” said Klopp.

“He is a threat. You all saw the goal, that was probably pretty good, right?

“The defensive work he puts in is probably the main difference. He always wanted [to do it] but it was less coordinated. Now that looks much better.”

The maverick talent has absorbed the team ethic, assisted by a midfield which is suited to his needs, Liverpool’s new additions more capable of seeing and executing the right pass as Nunez lingers on a centre-back’s shoulder. Where last year Nunez might live in a hope for the perfect pass, now he can draw crazy patterns with those boots in the knowledge Mac Allister and the outstanding Dominik Szoboszlai will not hesitate and more often than not will deliver.

Darwin Nunez scores Liverpool's second against West Ham - Darwin Nunez thriving in Liverpool's thrill-a-minute attack
Nunez's volley was the highlight of Liverpool's win over West Ham - PA/Peter Byrne

The new midfield pair look transformative, making this Liverpool side as easy on the eye as Klopp’s previous creation. After a summer of angst wondering where Liverpool would find a defensive No.6, Mac Allister and Szoboszlai seem good enough to ensure there is no obvious void since Fabinho’s sale. The result is a vastly different profile of Liverpool midfield to that which won the Premier League and Champions League. Theoretically that ought to make Liverpool more vulnerable than their start to this season suggests.

They have still had some dicey moments in defence, not least when Jarrod Bowen dived full length to beat Virgil van Dijk to Vladimir Coufal’s cross, the glancing header beating Alisson off the post.

Klopp’s attacking weaponry can camouflage whatever minor defensive flaws still need fixing. Every time Liverpool looked in trouble, the pace and skill with which they moved into sixth gear towards the other end gave the impression the victory was never in doubt.

With two intuitively attacking midfielders and rapid strikeforce, the fearsome front three is now effectively a fab five. When Andy Robertson and Trent Alexander-Arnold (absent against West Ham due to tight hamstring) are in tandem, it is more like a rampaging seven-man attack.

Jurgen Klopp celebrates Liverpool's win over West Ham - Darwin Nunez thriving in Liverpool's thrill-a-minute attack

West Ham were well in this game, level at half-time and cursing several opportunities to claim a notable scalp. As against Manchester City last week, David Moyes’ side showed plenty of quality - it is obvious why Lucas Paqueta is destined for one of Europe’s top clubs - but were ultimately outdone by decisive moments of class.

The visitors can lament a couple of early chances in front of the Kop, Tomas Soucek and Michael Antonio wasteful. Liverpool, rather like Anfield itself, began slumbersome but grew thanks to the thrilling capacity to flick a switch and carve out chances - a habit which has developed across all six of their victories in this current run.

Where once Klopp relied on Sadio Mane, Roberto Firmino and Mohamed Salah every week - the back-up strikers limited to sometimes legendary cameos - now he has more options.

Cody Gakpo and Diogo Jota may start next time without weakening the line-up, Jota emerging from the bench to score Liverpool’s third and banish the Hammers’ hopes of a late rally.

Klopp still has refining to do and the next two fixtures at Spurs and Brighton will be a truer measure of where Liverpool stand and what they can realistically achieve this season. Offensively, however, they already look at full throttle.