Arsene Wenger has claimed that the departure of Sadio Mane and the addition of Darwin Nunez have both contributed to Liverpool‘s poor start this season.
The Reds produced another disappointing display over the weekend drawing 3-3 with Brighton & Hove Albion, despite recovering from 2-0 down to lead 3-2 at Anfield.
Leandro Trossard completed his hat-trick late on to salvage a draw for the Seagulls, but once again questions are being asked about Liverpool defensively as they sit in ninth place in the Premier League.
Liverpool only have 10 points after seven games in the league and have been in inconsistent form at both ends of the pitch so far this season.
Wenger believes the loss of Mane, coupled with Nunez’s inconsistent form, have both been critical to their early-season struggles.
“It’s difficult to understand. They have the same core (group of players), same type of game,” he told beIN Sports.
“They are less efficient in winning the ball back than before. Nunez, at the moment, hasn’t worked out for them and they made a big investment. He’s sitting on the bench.
“They lost Mane, who was a top-level, big-game player. He had something (about him), an aggressive attitude and determination. He’d score no matter what happens, he’d make things happen.
“It’s difficult to measure how much (his departure) takes away. They miss something they had before.”
Nunez scored during the international break for Uruguay against Canada, but only managed two minutes off the bench at the end of the game against Brighton on Saturday.
Having arrived for a fee of £85m in the summer from Benfica following a 34-goal season in all competitions, the forward has only started two games for Jurgen Klopp‘s side this season.
In his seven appearances so far, Nunez has only managed one goal in the league and was also sent off against Crystal Palace for a headbutt on Joachim Andersen in their first home game of the season.
Liverpool face Rangers at Anfield on Tuesday night and it is unclear if Nunez will start over Diogo Jota or Roberto Firmino, the latter of whom scored two goals at the weekend against Brighton.