Liverpool headed going into Saturday’s game against Forest with supreme confidence, having earned a well-respected point from Arsenal before then battering Leed – which was reminiscent of the performances we’ve come to expect from Jurgen Klopp’s side over the last five years or so. A point would help Steve Cooper’s side massively in their bid to avoid relegation, while a win would send them into dreamland.
LIV: Alisson, Alexander-Arnold, Konaté, van Dijk, Robertson, Henderson, Fabinho, Jones, Salah, Gakpo, Jota
NFO: Navas, Felipe, Niakhaté, McKenna, N Williams, Freuler, Mangala, Lodi, Gibbs-White, dos Santos de Oliveira, Awoniyi
Early on, Liverpool sought to continue their form of the last two games – with the first chance of the game going to Gakpo, who fired a speculative effort wide from outside the box. Konate had a header narrowly saved by Navas followed by a sublime cross from Alexander-Arnold’s corner which created chaos for Forest, who just about managed to scramble it away.
Forest did well to pick off a few key passes in the opening spell, and the pace of the game then began to calm after the flash start from Liverpool. Morgan Gibbs-White had an effort of his own, showing signs of promise for Cooper’s men even though he didn’t manage to challenge Alisson on that occasion.
Klopp’s side then started to move the ball more methodically and patiently, as Fabinho had a shot on the edge of the box after a nice move led to Salah playing it back for him – but the Brazilian lent back resulting in a skied attempt.
Liverpool then seemed to shift a gear after the opening 20-minute period, as Alexander-Arnold’s beautifully whipped cross into the box from a free kick was sent goalbound by Van Dijk – with the Dutchman’s header forcing Navas to stretch awkwardly to tip the ball just over the crossbar.
The best chance of the half came in the 38th minute when Alexander-Arnold put in yet another superb cross from a free-kick. It looked as if Jota would just guide it in with his head when he was left open at the back post – but somehow his header nestled in the side netting. Goalless at the break, an eager Klopp would have been scratching his head as to how this was the case.
Quickly after the restart though, Liverpool found a breakthrough in the 48th minute as Trent Alexander-Arnold’s dangerous ball into the box eventually found Fabinh,o who put it on a plate for Jota. The Portuguese star did not have to do much but simply head it in from close range to propel the Reds into the lead.
Only three minutes after Liverpool’s opener, Klopp’s defence switched off following a throw-in and Neco Williams found himself in acres of space on the opposite flank – his shot was likely covered by Alisson, but a touch from Robertson wrong-footed the Liverpool ‘stopper making it hard for him to keep it out. Miraculously, Forest were level!
You could barely catch your breath in this game, as four minutes after Forest’s initial equaliser, Jota put the Reds ahead for the second time. It was clear how lethal Liverpool already were from set pieces – Robertson whipped in a free kick and Jota was completely unmarked, giving him time to control the ball on his chest, take it down and then volley across Navas into the net.
Despite Liverpool’s dominance, Forest provided another wake-up call as Morgan Gibbs-White volleyed into the bottom corner – guided by a few deflections along the way. The Anfield crowd, however, did not lose faith in the Liverpool players, as they egged them on for a third goal. Alexander-Arnold’s cross into the box from a free-kick landed at the feet of Mohamed Salah, who stretched to get a touch of the ball – hitting it against the post and into the net. This game was truly the definition of don’t blink or you’ll miss it, as Salah’s finish landed in the net three minutes after Forest’s second equaliser.
You would’ve thought Liverpool had learnt from their mistakes, yet an opportunity handed itself to Ayoni who sensationally attempted an overhead kick – but his acrobatic effort was sent just over the crossbar. Johnson also came close to scoring Foreest’s third as he lobbed Alisson, but his effort was to no avail as it struck the bar. Mangala had a couple of chances; heading one at Alisson and curling another effort past the post. In the end, Liverpool’s experienced players saw out the result with some solid defensive work.
Given the current circumstances, Liverpool will be happy with three points and another win after a season of doom and gloom. Trent was certainly the stand out player in the match for them, and this new position as a roaming midfielder has given him so much freedom. The former defender caused chaos with every cross he delivered, and Klopp will feel validated in this switch in his tactical position. The gaffer will still be frustrated at defensive errors which led to two goals that really could’ve been avoided had Liverpool been more astute. For Nottingham Forrest, they’ll take pride in the performance despite the loss, they fought back against Liverpool despite everyone expecting Liverpool to run away with the game after a dominant first half.