Nunez “chaos” and “angry” Jota – Liverpool coach hails options without Mo Salah

Pepijn Lijnders has hailed the impact of Liverpool’s forwards in the absence of Mohamed Salah, with two having netted braces during the weekend’s win over Bournemouth.

Jurgen Klopp‘s assistant addressed the media ahead of Wednesday’s League Cup semi-final clash with Fulham, where he was asked about the squad’s ability to cope without their talismanic No. 11.

The Reds will be without Salah in the upcoming weeks as he nurses a hamstring injury sustained at the Africa Cup of Nations, where the winger will be hoping to make a return should his country reach the latter stages without him.

Diogo Jota and Darwin Nunez were both on target twice as Liverpool picked up three more vital Premier League points on the south coast, and Lijnders was full of praise for the pair and the rest of the squad’s attacking options.

“That’s the sign of a good squad, and that’s the sign of the character, passion and ambition of the players we have, all of them,” said Lijnders when asked about Jota’s recent performances.

“Jota is a player who, when he’s in this angry mood where he wants to run against the world, where he wants to decide he can be dangerous, it’s incredible.

“We have to get him in this mood as often as possible, but we’re really happy with how Darwin, Lucho, Diogo, Cody, and Harvey step up in different moments, it’s never that you can rely on one player.

“It was the same with Bobby, Mo and Sadio. When Mo didn’t play well, Bobby played well. If Sadio was not creating, Mo would score the goals.

“When you are drilled, if you have trained, if they are all committed and confident, these things happen.”

Egypt's injured player Mohamed Salah watches his team mates warm up before the African Cup of Nations Group B soccer match between Cape Verde and Egypt at the Felix Houphouet Boigny stadium in Abidjan, Ivory Coast, Monday, Jan. 22, 2024. (AP Photo/Themba Hadebe)

Linjders went on to specifically discuss the chaos that Nunez brings with him on the pitch, and even suggested that a new song could be born from that.

He continued: “Chaos all around him, could be a song!

“We are really happy with him, I said it last time and the time before, it’s like a young, hungry, energy, direction, each game he can create six changes just by himself.

“If he trains like how he trains, if he keeps the braveness in his play, then goals will come because he’s creating and the team is creating.

BOURNEMOUTH, ENGLAND - Sunday, January 21, 2024: Liverpool's two-goal hero Darwin Núñez celebrates after the FA Premier League match between AFC Bournemouth and Liverpool FC at Dean Court.Liverpool won 4-0. (Photo by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

“He will improve, and he’s already important for this team and that’s really nice to see. I’m really happy, we are really happy.”

It would be natural to be concerned about losing a player of Salah’s calibre for any length of time, with the 31-year-old having netted 18 times already this season.

The Reds have not struggled for goals since his departure, though, with eight goals coming in the three games that they have been without the Egyptian.

Lijnders and the rest of the staff will be hopeful that the trend continues in the busy period to come.

Depending on recovery time and Egypt’s progress at AFCON, the Reds are unlikely to welcome Salah back for at least another three weeks, as confirmed by his agent on Monday evening.