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How ‘fatal’ Darwin Nunez’s red card is for Liverpool, the Reds long-term concern

Darwin Nunez of Liverpool will miss the next three Premier League games after receiving a red card against Crystal Palace.

Darwin Nunez will miss Liverpool’s next three Premier League games after being shown a red card in the second half during his first start at Anfield.

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The Uruguayan striker was frustrated after missing a couple of chances with Liverpool trailing Crystal Palace, and Joachim Andersen treated the £85 million man rough on his Premier League debut. Nunez retaliated by headbutting Andersen after being shoved in the back by the defender and was promptly shown a red card.

Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp is concerned about his lack of attacking options, with Diogo Jota currently out with a hamstring injury and Roberto Firmino missing the game against Palace as an injury precaution.

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Nunez will miss Liverpool’s next match at Old Trafford against bitter rivals Manchester United on Monday, and it is unclear whether Firmino will be fit to play down the middle for the Reds.

The 23-year-old will then play in the next two league home matches, as newly promoted Bournemouth visit Anfield on Saturday, August 27 before Eddie Howe’s Newcastle side visits.

Violent conduct charges can be increased to four games or more, but the striker will almost certainly serve at least a three-game suspension as a result of the incident.

Darwin Nunez’s silly, stupid and utterly mindless sending off hands Liverpool long-term concern

When Darwin Nunez woke up this morning, he would surely have been dreaming of following in the footsteps of Luis Suarez, Sadio Mane and Fernando Torres, all goalscorers on their Anfield debut.

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Instead, his first home start for Liverpool saw him invoke the spirit of Joe Cole.

And having seemingly answered the early doubts following his £64million arrival from Benfica in the summer with two goals in his opening two appearances, Nunez has now prompted a whole host of other questions.

Cole, of course, was infamously dismissed on his home Premier League bow against Arsenal back in 2010. Given the underwhelming Liverpool career that followed, it isn’t the greatest portent for Nunez.

There could be no argument, though, with the red card shown by otherwise lamentable referee Paul Tierney after the flashpoint of another worrying outing for Jurgen Klopp’s side.

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Eight minutes into the second half, Joachim Andersen had taken umbrage with Nunez and prodded his finger towards the Liverpool striker before invading his personal space. Unwise, yes. But that still wasn’t sufficient reason for Nunez to then plant a headbutt on the Crystal Palace defender, who needed no invitation to hit the ground and ensure the inevitable sending-off.

Silly, stupid and utterly mindless, it was perhaps borne of an increasingly frustrating evening for the striker, who had volleyed wide and hit the post in the first half and, shortly before the dismissal, wasted a good chance when instead claiming a penalty for a handball by Joel Ward.

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In the short term, Klopp will be infuriated that Nunez is now suspended for the trip to Manchester United and the home games against Bournemouth and Newcastle United at a time when Diogo Jota is out and Roberto Firmino was absent here. The bigger picture, however, will be more concerning, the Reds missing out on precious time to continue integrating the Uruguayan into a new-look attack that, on the evidence in front of a grumbling Anfield crowd, remains very much a work in progress.

Andy Robertson had been the last Liverpool player sent off when dismissed at Tottenham Hotspur in December last year, also by Tierney.

Twelve years ago, Liverpool managed to scrap out a 1-1 draw after Cole’s dismissal, and thanks to a wonder goal from Luis Diaz the Reds could at least claim the same following Wilfried Zaha’s first-half counter-attack effort.

But there’s no escaping this was another dismal night, the first time since 2012/13 Liverpool have failed to win either of their first two games. The Reds, like Nunez, having some making up to do.

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