LIVERPOOL VS. NOTTINGHAM FOREST
| Saturday, April 22nd |
Premier League | Anfield
3PM GMT/10AM EST
Nottingham Forest are coming into this match struggling, having lost four of their last five matches: losing at home to Manchester United, away at Aston Villa and Leeds, drawing at home to Wolves, and losing at home to Newcastle United. Their last win was a 1-0 home win against Liverpool’s last opponents, Leeds United, back at the beginning of February.
Their struggling form of late is reflected in their place on the league table: they sit in 27th (below Everton on goal difference, with -32). They’ve managed just six wins this season, but of course one of those was the depressing 1-0 against Liverpool back in October — back when optimism for this season was much higher. Forest will of course hope to complete the league double against Liverpool for the first time since the 1962/63 League One season (though their only away win this season was against fellow-sufferers Southampton, a 1-0 in January).
Though Forest have mainly been discussed in terms of their glut of signings (it’s worth noting that a large percentage of those were necessary as much of their promotion-winning sign were there on loan), they’ve been deeply struggling in terms of injury. Though Taiwo Awoniyi (groin) and Moussa Niakhate (hamstring) have returned to the team sheet, Forest are still without nine players: Cheikhou Kouyate, Gustavo Scarpa, Serge Aurier, Ryan Yates, Chris Wood, Willy Boly, Dean Henderson, Omar Richards and Giulian Biancone are out for Steve Cooper’s side.
In terms of off-the-pitch elements, this will be Forest’s first visit to Anfield since 1998. The 25-year is meaningful as Forest fans were at Hillsborough on April 15th 1989, and witnessed the disaster play out firsthand — and the mental toll of this has often gone unacknowledged. We can expect the occasion to be marked at the Hillsborough Memorial, and multiple groups of Forest fans have been campaigning against tragedy chanting in the lead-up to Saturday’s match.
Predicted Liverpool Lineup (4-3-3)
Alisson; Alexander-Arnold, Konaté, Van Dijk, Robertson; Henderson, Fabinho, Elliott; Salah, Núñez, Jota
Liverpool have, for once, plenty of choices going forward (despite the injury ruling out Roberto Firmino for a number of games). Jürgen Klopp has a healthy Mohamed Salah, Cody Gakpo, Darwin Núñez, Diogo Jota, and Luis Díaz to choose from. Frankly, any guess that includes “Salah + 2” is as good as any.
The midfield is also tricky, as Klopp will certainly be tempted to go again with the side who impressed against Leeds; the boss noted in his press conference, however, that both Harvey Elliott and Fabio Carvalho have been impressing in training, and choosing a deserving squad list — let alone starting XI — is a perpetual challenge in this time of flux.
Your guess is as good as mine, is what I’m saying, though we all expect an unchanged back five.
Something Klopp mentioned in his press conference that stood out to me against Leeds was Liverpool’s willingness to swarm Leeds after losing the ball; should the team manage the same levels against Nottingham Forest it should be a good outing for the Reds: maintaining control and stopping the counter is the way to three points here.
Finally, though the Reds have been uneven at best this season, rest assured that they should all put in 10/10 performances tomorrow as I will be stuck bartending a brunch.
What the Managers Had to Say
Jürgen Klopp: “Everybody will play [hard?], but the ticket will be the desire to get the ball back. Especially against deep-defending sides, otherwise we face counter-attacks.”
Steve Cooper: “The win earlier this season was a really good example of giving everything on the pitch. Liverpool are a brilliant team, they showed it at Leeds and have done on many occasions this year. They have brilliant players and a brilliant manager, and it’s going to take everything to get a positive result, but we’ve got to believe [we can beat them again].”
Referee: Michael Oliver Assistants: Stuart Burt, Dan Cook Fourth Official: Anthony Taylor VAR: Paul Tierney Assistant VAR: Derek Eaton
Kickoff is set for 3PM GMT/10AM EST tomorrow. Stick with The Liverpool Offside team to keep yourself up to date with team news and match buildup, live updates, and post-match reaction. If you want to join the discussion, sign up for an SB Nation account and have your say on the action as it happens.