Liverpool’s Cody Gakpo is confident the forward line will step up to cover for the pending absence of Mohamed Salah.
Darwin Nunez ended a run of 12 matches without a goal, while Diogo Jota came off the bench to score after a month out injured in Tuesday’s 2-0 Premier League win over Burnley which took Jurgen Klopp’s side top of the table.
Salah has one more game – at home to Newcastle on Sunday – before he departs for the African Nations Cup with Egypt and the 16-goal winger is likely to be away for a month.
What a feeling #50 pic.twitter.com/SaR4gTV0mu
— Diogo Jota (@DiogoJota18) December 26, 2023
Therefore, Jota’s timely return boosts the numbers up top, while Nunez’s confidence has been lifted by his first Premier League goal since October.
Gakpo himself has seven for the season, the latest coming in last week’s Carabao Cup romp against West Ham after he was denied a goal at Turf Moor when referee Paul Tierney adjudged Nunez to have committed a foul in the build-up, and he believes they have enough firepower to see them through in Salah’s absence.
“For every attacking player who didn’t score for a few games, it’s always nice to get back on the scoresheet and Darwin did it with a very good goal,” said Gakpo.
“For Diogo as well. When you are injured and you come back and score that’s always nice and good for the confidence. So really happy.
“Mo is gone after the Newcastle game so we need the goals. Of course, I think I can contribute even more.”
Liverpool captain Virgil Van Dijk is also of the opinion they can handle Salah’s expected lengthy absence despite the Egypt international being their main threat for so many seasons.
“It’s always important for the guys up front to score goals. I am delighted for Darwin. Diogo, it’s the same story. It’s good to see the boys back on the scoresheet,” said the Netherlands defender.
“I also want to say that Cody was outstanding, in the first half especially. It’s good to see. Everyone has to keep pushing each other. That’s the only way we can get better.
“Others have to step up anyway. We have to deal with losing Mo and we have the players up front who can make the difference. Let’s see how we deal with it.”
Liverpool’s return to the Premier League summit probably has more significance to the outside world than it does within the squad, who are refusing to look beyond their next game.
— Liverpool FC (@LFC) December 26, 2023
“The table is not looking in a bad place but we have to take it one game at a time, don’t let our heads go everywhere all over the place, just stay focused and keep doing what we are doing now and even improve more,” added Gakpo, who is enjoying his first taste of the English festive programme.
“It’s the first time I played with this intensity – a lot of games in a few days – and it’s nice as if you play a good game you can play again and if you play a not-so-good game, you can make it good in the next game as it’s coming nice and quick,” he added.
“Everybody wants the three points – also the opponents – so you have to work really hard every game and you have to be able to win games different ways.”