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Forest “fancy their chances” with key Liverpool absences – but have “abysmal” weakness

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Liverpool head to Nottingham Forest for another big Premier League clash on Saturday, with some former Reds players potentially to play their part.

Jurgen Klopp‘s side know the importance of victory at the City Ground, with any slip-ups feeling big in the title race.

Man City and Arsenal continue to be in formidable form, and while injuries are still hurting Liverpool, a win is to be expected.

Forest are down in 17th place, hovering ominously above the relegation zone, with Nuno Espirito Santo taking over from Steve Cooper back in December.

Ahead of the game, TIA’s Henry Jackson spoke to Forest fan and podcaster Matt Davies (@MattDavies_FF) to discuss the season to date, Klopp’s exit and much more.

 

How happy are you with Nottingham Forest’s progress this season?

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Sunday, October 29, 2023: Liverpool's Alexis Mac Allister (R) is challenged by Nottingham Forest's Anthony Elanga during the FA Premier League match between Liverpool FC and Nottingham Forest FC at Anfield. (Photo by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

It’s been massively up and down.

Nottingham Forest have not made that much progress from last season, in terms of points and position in the table, although I do think they have better players this term.

The frustration has been that the talent is there, but they have conceded so many unnecessary goals under both managers this season.

 

What has Nuno Espirito Santo changed compared to Steve Cooper?

LONDON, ENGLAND - Sunday, August 15, 2021: Tottenham Hotspur's manager Nuno Espírito Santo during the FA Premier League match between Tottenham Hotspur FC and Manchester City FC at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Nuno Espirito Santo has been more attacking and played to the strengths of players in general.

Steve Cooper did a fantastic job, however, and I will never be a critic of his.

If anything, his thinking got a bit muddled around some players and where to play them – Morgan Gibbs-White being the main example.

He also tried to hide weaknesses and make us more defensive as his time went on in the Premier League.

Nuno has been the other way so we score more, but we concede plenty too, even if the raw data suggests we aren’t bad at the back from open play.

Defending set pieces has been abysmal for most of the season.

 

Was it the right decision to make a change?

MANCHESTER, ENGLAND - Saturday, September 23, 2023: Nottingham Forest's manager Steve Cooper applauds the supporters after the FA Premier League match between Manchester City FC and Nottingham Forest FC at the City of Manchester Stadium. Man City won 2-0. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Yes, in the end, I think it was.

Every manager has a shelf life, as Liverpool fans know this season, and Cooper had come to the end of his, but he left with a brilliant body of work and Forest fans should be forever grateful to him.

 

Who has stood out and struggled this season? And how have the former Liverpool players fared?

MANCHESTER, ENGLAND - Saturday, September 23, 2023: Nottingham Forest's Divok Origi during the FA Premier League match between Manchester City FC and Nottingham Forest FC at the City of Manchester Stadium. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Murillo has been a great addition at the back and among the strikers, Taiwo Awoniyi and Chris Wood have been great, when fit.

Anthony Elanga, Callum Hudson-Odoi and Gibbs-White have been good as well.

Matt Turner had a bit of a nightmare in goal, as did Odysseas Vlachodimos, hence buying Matz Sels.

From a Liverpool point of view, Neco Williams has come on as a right-back, but Divock Origi has been poor mostly. He did look bright off the bench against Aston Villa, though.

 

What are your thoughts on Jurgen Klopp’s shock departure?

LONDON, ENGLAND - Sunday, February 25, 2024: Liverpool's Jurgen Klopp lines-up before the Football League Cup Final match between Chelsea FC and Liverpool FC at Wembley Stadium. Liverpool won 1-0 after extra-time. (Photo by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

I think it serves Liverpool well in the short-term when it comes to galvanising the team, and they should do well this season.

What happens next is interesting. I think it’s fair to expect a dropoff.

The ownership doesn’t seem to invest massively, with Jurgen Klopp appearing to get the maximum out of his players.

A new manager needs time and could bring a period of transition, especially with Andy Robertson, Virgil van Dijk and Mohamed Salah all being 30 or over when next season starts.

 

How do you assess Liverpool’s title chances now?

LONDON, ENGLAND - Sunday, February 25, 2024: The Liverpool team celebrate winning the cup after the Football League Cup Final match between Chelsea FC and Liverpool FC at Wembley Stadium. (Photo by Peter Powell/Propaganda)

Man City and Arsenal have an air of being relentless about them now. If Liverpool can get their best XI out more regularly then it’s a three-horse race.

But I would still favour City based on the experience of winning titles regularly.

They don’t seem to lack motivation after winning so much last season.

 

As for Saturday, where will the key battles take place?

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Wednesday, February 21, 2024: Liverpool's Conor Bradley celebrates his side's second goal during the FA Premier League match between Liverpool FC and Luton Town FC at Anfield. (Photo by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

It will probably be the wingers vs. the full-backs.

Can our wingers get behind the likes of Conor Bradley, Joe Gomez, Kostas Tsimikas and Robertson, depending on who is playing?

Similarly, can our full-backs contain Luis Diaz and whoever starts on the right?

Williams has been good of late, so will give Diaz a good game – Nuno Tavares was just starting to play well, but is injured, so we can’t be sure who Forest’s left-back will be yet.

 

If you could only have one Liverpool player at Forest, who would it be and why?

LONDON, ENGLAND - Sunday, February 25, 2024: Liverpool's captain Virgil van Dijk celebrates after scoring the winning goal in extra time during the Football League Cup Final match between Chelsea FC and Liverpool FC at Wembley Stadium. (Photo by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Van Dijk. Forest need a defensive leader alongside Murillo and he is in incredible form. If not him, then Alisson or Caoimhin Kelleher.

Forest have had a goalkeeping nightmare and Kelleher looks ready to be a long-term Premier League No.1.

 

Finally, what’s your prediction?

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Wednesday, December 20, 2023: Liverpool's Mohamed Salah (L) celebrates with team-mate Darwin Núñez after scoring the fourth goal during the Football League Cup Quarter-Final match between Liverpool FC and West Ham United FC at Anfield. (Photo by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

I think a lot depends on Liverpool’s injuries.

Forest will fancy their chances at home if Salah is still out and the same applies to Darwin Nunez. If they are back then it will be very difficult.

Being realistic, I will say Forest 1-2 Liverpool, but I wouldn’t count us out at all.