Tuesday, April 23, 2024

Prediction: Nottingham Forest vs Liverpool

Verdict: Away win

Best odds: 8/15

Bookmaker: 888sport

Following contrasting results in the FA Cup, Nottingham Forest and Liverpool will meet for a Premier League clash at the City Ground on Saturday afternoon.

Forest suffered elimination from the cup with a 1-0 defeat to Manchester United in their fifth-round match, while Liverpool enjoyed further knockout success with a convincing 3-0 victory over Southampton.

Nottingham Forest

After requiring extra time to overcome Blackpool in a third-round replay followed by a victory over Bristol City in their fourth-round rematch, Nottingham Forest reached the last 16 of the FA Cup, where they faced their toughest challenge yet against Manchester United.

Despite Nuno Espirito Santo’s side putting in a spirited effort and testing Andre Onana multiple times at the City Ground, the Cameroonian goalkeeper proved to be formidable between the posts. Casemiro’s decisive header from a Bruno Fernandes free kick secured Manchester United’s ticket to the quarterfinals, dashing Forest’s dreams of a Wembley appearance, though in an arguably controversial manner as Raphael Varane appeared to be influencing the play from an offside position.

With their FA Cup hopes dashed, Forest can now focus solely on the Premier League relegation battle. Their chances of survival took a hit with a 4-2 defeat to Aston Villa on February 27th. Following Everton’s reduced points deduction from 10 to six, Santo’s side has slipped to 17th in the table, just four points clear of Luton Town, albeit having played a game more than the Hatters. Forest have only secured victory in one of their last six Premier League matches.

Despite their struggles, Forest have shown some attacking promise, scoring multiple goals in each of their last three Premier League fixtures. However, defensive issues persist, with only one clean sheet recorded in their recent run under Santo.

Team News

Following their return from the Africa Cup of Nations with injuries, Ibrahim Sangare (knee), Ola Aina (unspecified), and Willy Boly (unspecified) were all absent for the match against Manchester United, and Nuno Espirito Santo has not provided a timeframe for their recoveries.

Additionally, on-loan Arsenal left-back Nuno Tavares will be sidelined for several weeks due to an issue sustained in February against West Ham United. Meanwhile, Chris Wood (thigh) is unlikely to return before the end of March.

In Wood’s absence, former Liverpool man Taiwo Awoniyi, who scored the only goal in this fixture last season, leads the attacking line. However, Liverpool legend (as Reds boss Jurgen Klopp once referred to him) Divock Origi is expected to make way for Callum Hudson-Odoi, who has scored three goals in his last four Premier League appearances.

Liverpool

Klopp’s reliance on Liverpool’s academy talents paid off handsomely in both the Carabao Cup final against Chelsea and the recent encounter with Southampton at Anfield. Despite facing a considerable absentee list, the young prospects stepped up admirably. This display of emerging talent saw Liverpool secure their fifth consecutive victory across all competitions and advance to the quarter-finals of the FA Cup, where they will face arch-rivals Manchester United at Old Trafford.

Liverpool’s last Premier League outing was a commanding 4-1 win against Luton Town on February 21, propelling them to 60 points from 26 matches in the 2023/24 season. This puts them one point ahead of Manchester City and two above Arsenal at the top of the table.

However, Liverpool face a historical challenge as they aim to maintain their lead this weekend. Despite their dominant 3-0 victory over Nottingham Forest at Anfield earlier in the season, they have struggled in away fixtures against the Garibaldi, failing to secure a win in their last 13 visits, including all six Premier League encounters at the City Ground. This forms an undesirable club record against a single opponent for the Reds.

Team News

The only response Klopp could provide when asked about the potential returns of Mohamed Salah, Dominik Szoboszlai, and Darwin Nunez for the upcoming match at the City Ground, was “I don’t know.”

Concerns linger over the availability of Wataru Endo and Ryan Gravenberch, who both sustained injuries in the EFL Cup final, with Gravenberch less likely of the two to make the squad on Saturday. Meanwhile, Andy Robertson’s availability hinges on his recovery from an illness before the Southampton game.

A lengthy list of absentees includes Joel Matip, Ben Doak, Curtis Jones, Trent Alexander-Arnold, Stefan Bajcetic, Thiago Alcantara, Diogo Jota, and Alisson Becker due to various injuries. However, Ibrahima Konate, Luis Diaz, and Alexis Mac Allister are poised to return to the starting lineup.

Conclusion

Despite their injury concerns, Liverpool have consistently demonstrated resilience and determination, often emerging victorious despite facing adversity. The emergence of their young talents has been particularly noteworthy, instilling fear in opposing teams.

With this in mind, Liverpool may finally break their City Ground hoodoo. While they may not entirely shut out Santo’s team, they could exploit their opponents’ defensive vulnerabilities, especially with the return of some key senior players.

Verdict: Away win

Best odds: 8/15

Bookmaker: 888sport

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Veselin Trajkovic


Vesko is a football writer that likes to observe the game for what it is, focusing on teams, players and their roles, formations, tactics, rather than stats. He follows the English Premier League closely, Liverpool FC in particular. His articles have been published on seven different football blogs.

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