For as much success Liverpool have had under manager Jürgen Klopp, the domestic cups have not been competitions they have fared well in. This season, however, Klopp and his Liverpool side are changing that narrative. They have already won the EFL Cup, and with the win over historic rivals Nottingham Forest, they now move on to the semifinals of the FA Cup.
As for the match itself against a gritty, determined Nottingham Forest side, it was certainly not one of Liverpool’s better performances. Still, they found a way to finish despite struggling in the final third to keep the hope for the historic quadruple alive.
Let’s take a look at some of the winners, losers, and other narratives around the game.
Gomez has spent the majority of the season buried on the center back depth chart. When he has gotten opportunities in his regular position, he has not looked close to his best. With Trent Alexander-Arnold out with a hamstring injury, and James Milner also missing, Gomez was given a run out at right back. He showed off a surprising penchant for making attacking runs, regularly stepping into channels to receive a ball and send a cross in or get a shot off. While he is certainly not Trent with his crossing ability (I mean, no one is really), he still managed to get the ball into good spots. He was the joint top for shots (3) and shots on target (2), and had one key pass. On the defensive end, Gomez showed off his signature speed on several occasions, making good recovery runs to help clear danger as Forest looked to beat Liverpool over the top.
Ghost Goal (n)
- Diogo Jota disappears for most of the game, but shows up at just the right moment to score a big goal.
- Diogo Jota ghosts behind a defender into a pocket of space to score a goal from close range.
Diogo Jota did not have a particularly good game. In fact, you could say he was one of Liverpool’s worst performers over all. Still, when Liverpool needed a goal, Jota did what he does best. He found a little pocket of space and ghosted in behind a defender and found a way to finish from close range. While Jota doesn’t offer the same all around game like Roberto Firmino, Mohamed Salah, or Sadio Mané, he just has that penchant for having that one moment a game when it is needed most. He now has 19 goals on the season.
The Dream of the Quad
Survive and move on was the name of the game here. Anything else was gravy. With the win, Liverpool now move to the semifinals of the FA Cup with the chance for four trophies still alive.
Nottingham Forest, who were Liverpool’s opponents in FA Cup semifinal Hillsborough disaster, built up goodwill with the Liverpool community by keeping 97 seats empty in their stadium as a tribute to the 97 Liverpool fans who lost their lives. That goodwill was undone early in the match when Forest fans began singing “Always the victims”. Pretty gross.
With the win, Liverpool add yet another game to their already chock full schedule. The Reds will have eight games in April, playing pretty much every three days. It also means that the Premier League match with Aston Villa will have to be rescheduled, likely for early May. Liverpool are going to need every member of their very deep squad to keep their Premier League, Champions League, and FA Cup title hopes alive during this extremely busy month.
PS - No one tell Mikel Arteta about Liverpool’s schedule or he might find out his schedule is not, in fact, unfair.
Credit to the Opposition
Nottingham Forest very much was hoping to keep the Magic of the Cup™ alive, and they did their best to manufacture their own luck. They did a good job of limiting big mistakes caused by Liverpool’s press, and showed some good movement and timing in their counter attacks. Unlike so many teams, they did not get caught out by Liverpool’s high line, and created some of their own opportunities by with long diagonal balls behind the fullbacks. They showed more grit and determination than many of the Premier League sides Liverpool have faced, and kept looking for the equalizer up until the final whistle.
What Happens Next
Many of Liverpool’s players will disperse for the international break while Liverpool fans all hold their collective breath hoping no one gets injured. The Reds will return to play on April 2 when they will host Watford in Premier League play.