Liverpool head into the international break as Manchester City’s closest challengers at the top of the Premier League after a comfortable win over Brentford.
Darwin Nunez had two goals disallowed for offside in the first half (rightly; one close, one a long way off) before setting up Mohamed Salah for his 148th Premier League goal. Read on for a remarkable Nunez-Salah stat but Salah’s goal also made him the first player to score in each of Liverpool’s first six home league games of a season, and only the fourth for any club in the Premier League.
Salah added his 149th on 62 minutes and Diogo Jota added a third on 74 minutes to make it the first time since October 1980 that Liverpool have won nine consecutive home matches by at least two goals.
Here Gregg Evans answers the key questions from Liverpool’s latest win.
Does Nunez’s remarkable Salah assist record show how his game has improved?
Another Premier League game passed without Nunez scoring — his seventh in 11 outings this season — but that only paints half the picture.
The Uruguayan has developed the reputation of a misfiring striker and while it’s true he misses some of the easier opportunities and then converts from tighter angles, his overall figures still stack up favourably.
It’s also not only his seven goals in 18 games in all competitions, but more his all-round play and incredible connection with Salah.
Nunez has seven assists for Liverpool in all competitions this season and they have all been for his prolific strike partner who is the first player in history to score in each of Liverpool’s first six home games of a season. The other three are Alan Shearer, Les Ferdinand and Thierry Henry but this isn’t the first time Salah has found himself in such esteemed company.
Nunez has nine Liverpool assist in all since joining and all of them are for Salah. In terms of the Premier League, since the start of last season only Kevin De Bruyne (for Erling Haaland) has created more goals for one player.
No doubt the Egyptian has Nunez to thank for his goals this season. The ex-Benfica man has transformed his game this season to become an all-rounder and a real handful at No 9.
How did Salah, Nunez, Gakpo and Jota all starting work out?
Liverpool’s get-out-of-jail card this season has been their freescoring strikers. Having Salah, Nunez, Cody Gakpo, Jota and Luis Diaz available has, at times, felt like a cheat code.
All five have chipped in with important strikes, scoring 20 of their 24 goals before this weekend and again proving to be the difference today.
It’s rare that four of the five start, though, and only on one other occasion in the Premier League had Salah, Nunez, Gakpo and Jota made it into the first XI — in the home win over Brentford last season.
So how did Liverpool shape up with all four starting? Well, they certainly weren’t short of chances.
Gakpo dropped the deepest of the four and linked up well with those in front. It was Nunez, who for a second game running, came flying out of the blocks, and had five efforts before the half hour mark and was unfortunate with two chances that were both ruled out by VAR checks.
The connection he now has with those around him is now clear, as is the consistent output of goals from whoever out of the five strikers is chosen to start.
Yet the scoreline should not mask some of the troubles Liverpool faced on the counter-attack. With such an attacking frontline and Wataru Endo still finding his feet in English football, there were occasions in the first half where Brentford cut through the central areas too easily.
That said, the jeopardy in the game was removed as soon as the second goal was scored.
What were the VAR decisions?
Nunez’s first “goal” was ruled out for offside when he controlled a scuffed shot from Dominik Szoboszlai and shot past Mark Flekken. He appeared clearly offside in real time — the VAR check showed he was, but it was close.
His second was also disallowed for offside when Flekken saved Virgil van Dijk’s header and the rebound bounced up for Nunez to overhead kick into the goal, though he was a long way behind the last man (below).
Wataru Endo had a nervous wait for a VAR check when he chased the ball into a tackle with Christian Norgaard and his foot caught the Brentford player up around his knee.
What next for Liverpool?
Saturday, November 25: Manchester City (A), Premier League, 12:30pm GMT, 7:30am ET
Just after the international break, Liverpool face yet another Saturday lunchtime kick off — this time away at champions Manchester City. Klopp’s side have not won in the league at the Etihad in seven seasons.
Liverpool then host LASK in the Europa League group stage (game five of six) on November 30.
(Top photo: John Powell/Liverpool FC via Getty Images))