Player Ratings: Nottingham Forest 0 – 1 Liverpool

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Nunez Extends Reds’ Lead at the Top

The start of this game was a little jagged and uncoordinated, as the gulf in quality between the two sides took time to make itself apparent. The tired legs of the Anfield assets were clear to everyone, which is why it took continued perseverance and determination to get the win in the 99th minute.

The line-up and subsequent ratings are listed below.

Caoimhin Kelleher – 9.0

The 25-year-old Irishman has been installed as the man between the sticks for much of the remainder of the season, given the ongoing hamstring issue that is keeping his number one, Alisson Becker, on the Merseyside treatment table. The opening exchanges saw the in-form keeper produce a great save from an advancing one-on-one, before needing to be alert for much of a frustrating first half. The second half produced fewer clear-cut opportunities and everything that came his way was dealt with professionally.

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Andy Robertson – 5.0

The Scottish international captain came back into the side after a slight bout of illness. The beginning of this contest was somewhat inconsistent as patterns of play struggled to evolve against a well-drilled adversary. The second half endeavour increased slightly as the left back had a good close-range effort saved early on. The ability of the veteran waned before he left the field.

Subbed – 60 mins

Conor Bradley – 6.0

The young Northern Irishman is perhaps the first choice right back now, as his inclusion in vital games continues whilst his vice-captain, Trent Alexander Arnold, recovers from a knee injury. The initial stages of this game saw the 20-year-old shackled by multiple regimented opponents, whereas the counterattacking of Forest kept the youngster on his toes. The second half was a slog of attack versus defence and not one for vibrant attacking fullbacks.

Subbed – 84 mins

Ibrahima Konaté – 9.0

The France international defender returned to the starting eleven, as the continued rotation of defensive assets keeps the giant enforcer fit and in form. At the start of this game the 6ft 4inch defender was needed to dispel oncoming attacks as Liverpool struggled to maintain an attack that was built upon sprinting into a counterattack. The second half was about remaining diligent to keep his side close to the winning goal.

Virgil van Dijk – 9.0

The captain and leader of this team is continuing to defy logic by starting each game. From the opening bell, the former Saints skipper was needed to be alert and able to travel large distances, as the relegation battlers worked their strategy to good effect. One superb moment of heading home a precise cross showed the class of the giant Dutchman. As the second half began, the 32-year-old pushed his team forward as he alone marshalled a vast half of the pitch. His courage and determination are untouchably right.

Man of the Match

Alexis Mac Allister – 8.0

The Argentina World Cup winner is perhaps Klopp’s most influential midfielder, therefore, his return to the first team was vital to the Reds’ on and off ball patterns of play. With the home side holding their positions and restricting the influence of the middle men, the former Brighton man struggled to imprint his ability on the first half. As the second half began, the number ten was able to get on the ball a little more, but it was difficult to break down a rigid opposition. The assist just before the 100th minute was key.

Joe Gomez – 7.0

The England international was tasked into the holding midfield role once more, as a sign of what the squad needs now and until the end of the season. Despite the vast skillset and fine season from of the experienced Liverpool man, Joe struggled at times in the first half, both on and off the ball. After the half time break, the former Charlton man was more effective and was steadily moved about the board with each positional alteration failing to reduce his solid second half impact.

Bobby Clark – 6.0

The young midfielder deserved to retain his starting shirt after a man of the match display earlier in the week. Much of what was good in the first half was instigated by the teenage prodigy, as his clever use of possession allowed good moments to emerge before fading away. The match demanded experience and guile, which will come for the young asset.

Subbed – 60 mins

Luis Díaz- 6.0

The Colombian flyer was brought back to the first team elite with a remit to inflict damage. The former Porto wide man nearly had a clear goal to open the scores from, before Murillo put his body in the way of his close-range prod. The flashes and moments were fleeting and irritating as the dribbler lacked a man next to him to finish what was being created.

Cody Gakpo – 5.0

The Dutch forward started through the middle once more, as Darwin was held back on the substitutes bench. From minute one the versatile forward looked off his game and unaware that he was the biggest player on the field. The lack of physicality and determination is a worry which was averted when Darwin entered the fray.

Subbed – 84 mins

Harvey Elliott – 6.0

The young live-wire kept his place in the starting eleven despite playing so much in the last week. As the starting right winger, the former Fulham player looked tired and shorn of attacking ideas. His overplaying and lack of concentration was down to an abundance of minutes played, nothing more.

Subbed – 76 mins

Subs

Wataru Endō – 6.0 (on 60)

Came on to offer defence reliability in front of the back line.

Darwin Núñez – 8.0 (on 60)

Came on to offer purpose and determination. The goal was what mattered and it allowed the dream to continue.

Dominik Szoboszlai – 5.0 (on 76)

Came on to attempt to salvage the win.

Jayden Danns – 5.0 (on 62)

Came on to attempt to sniff out a goal.

Kostas Tsimikas – 5.0 (on 84)

Came on.

The Manager

Jürgen Klopp – 7.0

The German manager rotated accordingly, with certain players still not quite ready for a return to the starting eleven. The most curious part was to see one of the players of the season, Joe Gomez, continue in the holding midfield role. Apart from Bobby Clark, the rest of the team was generally as expected, and there was a sense that pushing players into starting roles too quickly this time would be carefully managed.

The substitutions were a case of reaching for inspiration as his men faltered, and each alteration made sense.

The rigid opposition was the most important factor, which coincided with the Reds looking tired and unable to find creation.

The attacking change eventually worked, and the title charge continues.

Pre-match Prediction

Nottingham Forest 1 – 2 Liverpool

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