Nottingham Forest 0-1 Liverpool – The Postmortem 

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Last Gasp Reds Maintain Top Table Pressure Cooker

This was a game that needed to be won by any means necessary, given the fine margins it will take to stay clear of Manchester City and Arsenal. The lack of senior players combined with a pandemic of fatigue in the Liverpool ranks, meant that another rotation heavy side was selected for this Premier League encounter. Much of the game was ugly and frustrating, yet somewhere from the depths of inspiration rose an outrageous Uruguayan to head home the 99th minute winner. Winning those vital three points was torturous at times, yet in hindsight, I doubt any LFC supporter would have it any other way.

Below is how the team lined up, with match details following.

Starting Eleven

GK – Caoimhin Kelleher

RB – Conor Bradley

RCB – Ibrahima Konaté

LCB – Virgil van Dijk (c)

LB – Andy Robertson

RCM – Alexis Mac Allister

CDM – Joe Gomez

LCM – Bobby Clark

RF – Diogo Jota

CF – Cody Gakpo

LF – Luis Díaz

Subs

Waturu Endo – Andy Robertson (60 mins)

Darwin Núñez – Bobby Clark (60 mins)

Dominik Szoboszlai – Harvey Elliott (45 mins)

Jayden Danns – Cody Gakpo (84 mins)

Kostas Tsimikas – Conor Bradley (84 mins)

Goals

Nottingham Forest 0 – 1 Liverpool

Darwin Núñez (Alexis Mac Allister) 90+9 mins

Match Stats

Possession

Nottingham Forest 29% – 71% Liverpool

Total Shots

Nottingham Forest 8 – 22 Liverpool

Crosses

Nottingham Forest 11 – 32 Liverpool

Corner Kicks 

Nottingham Forest 3 – 12 Liverpool

Goalkeeper Saves

Nottingham Forest 0 – 2 Liverpool

First Half

The opening period of this game was an uninspiring one, where Liverpool’s understudy goalkeeper, Caoimhin Kelleher, was called into action on countless occasions to thwart the onrushing attacks of a quick Nottingham Forest attack. The continuing need to field the 25-year-old stopper is no longer a worry, as the talented and commanding deputy is now a confident and assured member of the current first team elite. In front of Caoimhin was the twin towers of Anfield, Ibrahima Konaté and Virgil van Dijk. Those two 6ft 4inch defenders stand as the most destructive set of centre backs the Premier League may have ever seen. At times, it was only those two giants and fifty yards of grass that separated their keeper and the inevitable counter attacks; however, the ferocity of their play is making it the most effective and bespoke defensive line in world football.

In terms of the reds attacking intent, much of the first half build up was cumbersome and without conviction, as a lethargic away side struggled to reach the energetic levels their fanbase are so accustomed to. Joe Gomez was neither good nor bad as the holding midfielder, as his need to close areas and show his athleticism, perhaps needed more knowledge of the role and subsequent anticipation. The fullbacks were largely pinned back by resolute flanks of adversaries, whereas Bobby Clark and Alexis Mac Allister were hamstrung by an uninspiring forward line ahead of them. Harvey Elliott and Cody Gakpo looked tired and shorn of any true threat, as Luis Díaz worked to create openings that failed to make a dent in a determined rearguard. One close range effort from the Columbian was bravely blocked by Murillo (in the Forest backline) and that was almost all of Liverpool’s first half endeavour to break the 0-0 deadlock.

https://twitter.com/benbocsak/status/1763979668372254805?s=46&t=rxgukmqdoXc4muVFLSx2EQ

Second Half

On resumption of the second half, no changes were made by either manager. The away sides intent started to pick up as the minutes progressed agonisingly, however, Nuno Espírito Santo’s men were by this point comfortably deep and organised enough to stop the largely ordinary attacks they were sprung on them. Eventually, Jürgen Klopp made the first two changes that immediately brought life to a limp enterprise. Waturu Endō and Darwin Núñez were the bodies that were needed and the drive of the reds number nine was evident from the moment he set foot onto the field. An uncontrolled and unpredictable element that was missing had finally been ushered into a painful spectacle, whereas the Japan enforcer also added steel to the middle ground. I was fully convinced that a goal would come, especially as Dominik Szoboszlai and then Jayden Danns were brought into the mix. Repetition of play ensued and it seemed like the game would be starved of a goal, until Alexis Mac Allister produced a sublime chipped cross that Darwin Núñez was able to head into the bottom corner of the net.

The entire team erupted into celebration as the game had been won in the 99th minute.

Final Thoughts

This was a game that could prove pivotal in this intriguing Premier League title race. The options and chances were limited, however, the determination and skill in the final moments were critical as the reds extended their lead at the summit of the table.

Steve Smith’s Pre-game prediction:

Nottingham Forest 1 – 2 Liverpool

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