Nottingham Forest stuns Liverpool: Analysis, Jurgen Klopp reaction

Nottingham Forest pulled off a huge shock to beat Liverpool at the City Ground on Saturday.

The Tricky Trees felled a Premier League Redwood for a first win in 10 games and just their second of the season.

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Taiwo Awoniyi, a Liverpool academy product, was the hero for Forest as his second half strike sealed the 1-0 win for Steve Cooper’s side as the home fans went bonkers throughout.

Jurgen Klopp’s Liverpool continue to struggle at the start of the season as they suffered this shock defeat after pulling off successive 1-0 home wins against Manchester City and West Ham at Anfield.

With the victory Forest move on to nine points for the season. Liverpool remain on 16 as they’ve now lost three of their opening 11 games.

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What we learned from Nottingham Forest vs Liverpool

Salah struggling in central role: The Egyptian King is missing the right wing as Salah started up top again in Liverpool’s 4-4-2 and it just isn’t working. He isn’t able to find pockets of space like he does when he cuts in off the right and Forest’s center backs marked him pretty easily throughout. He snatched at chances and just looked off it, as he has done in recent weeks. He also went down in the first half and had Liverpool had other forward options on the bench, perhaps he would have come off?

Forest have found a blueprint for success: It wasn’t pretty but it got the job done. Big time. Forest have looked more physical in recent games and their draw at Brighton gave them confidence they could sit back, dig deep and hurt teams on the counter. Ryan Yates (who could have scored a second late on) in midfield has summed up how tough they have become to beat and it was always going to take time for Cooper to find a winning formula with a whole new squad. This victory will give Forest huge belief and now they have become tough to beat, the onus is now on their attacking talents to deliver when it matters most.

Van Dijk misses big chances as Liverpool definitely out of title race: In the first half he tried to set up Firmino instead of nodding home from six yards out and late on he was totally unmarked but Henderson saved his header which was straight down the middle of the goal. Of course, Virgil van Dijk is a colossus of a defender but he had Liverpool’s best two chances and squandered them both. That lack of focus when it mattered most is what has cost Liverpool dear this season and even if their levels have only dipped about 10 percent, it makes a huge difference for what Klopp demands. He said a few weeks ago they were out of the title race and after a few dogged wins it looked like they could be back in it. But this defeat to Forest proves they will not be title contenders this season.

Tactical focus

Liverpool once again went with what was mostly a 4-4-2 system with Salah and Firmino up top as Jota and now Nunez are out injured. They just never looked comfortable and they were overrun in midfield. The issue with this formation has been not getting the ball to Salah, and other forwards, early and often enough. Forest had Kouyate and Yates sat in front of their defense and they snapped into challenges, won the ball back so many times and set the tone for a huge win.

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Stars of the show

Dean Henderson: Made fine stops in the second half to deny Liverpool especially late on from Virgil van Dijk’s header.

Cheikhou Kouyate: The Senegalese midfielder dominated midfield and cut off the supply line to Salah and Firmino. He pushed his luck in the first half with some reckless challenges but his incredible energy set the tone for this win.

Jurgen Klopp reaction: Liverpool dominated but is tired, injured

Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp says his team was dominant but did not finish its chances, blaming part of it on the busy Premier League week that saw 19 of 20 clubs playing three games (Man City did not, with Arsenal playing PSV Eindhoven in Europa League play).

“We arrived with consistency but we had six games with a limited squad playing three high intense games,” Klopp said, noting the wins over Man City and West Ham. “That’s how it is, we cannot change that and we have to fight through. Result-wise we should have showed consistency today. We could have had it by finishing situations off.

“Giving a team six clear chances after a set piece I’m not sure where I should put the praise to be honest. [Forest is] a great team and Steve is a great manager but for us today we have to win here and we didn’t, so credit to Nottingham.”

What’s next?

Forest travel to Arsenal next Sunday Oct. 30, while Liverpool host Leeds on Saturday Oct. 29.

Taiwo Awoniyi goal video: Ex-Reds striker strikes back

How to watch Nottingham Forest vs Liverpool live, stream link and start time

Kick off: 7:30am ET, Saturday
TV Channel: USA Network
Online: Stream via NBCSports.com

Key storylines

Forest are backing Steve Cooper after giving him a new contract but after firing their recruitment staff, there are a lot of questions around their extensive, and expensive, summer splurge. There is still no cohesion in this team but they are within touching distance of getting out of the bottom three. They badly need Brennan Johnson, Taiwo Awoniyi and Emmanuel Dennis to get going in attack. As for Liverpool, they are looking back to their energetic and aggressive best as they have won two on the spin and Klopp is happy with their hunger levels. There is still a long way for them to go to get back into the title race but they are improving despite injuries hitting them hard. This weekend they are, quite remarkably, searching for their first away win of the Premier League season.

In-form players to keep an eye on

Dean Henderson is playing well in goal for Forest, while Liverpool’s goalkeeper Alisson saved Jarrod Bowen’s penalty kick and continues to deliver fine saves when it matters most. Darwin Nunez is being rotated into the attack and with Diogo Jota out injured, he will play a lot more alongside Mohamed Salah and Roberto Firmino.

Nottingham Forest team news, injuries, lineup

Jack Colback, Moussa Niakhate and Omar Richards all remain out, while Lewis O’Brien, Renan Lodi and Harry Toffolo are all at different stages of their recoveries but getting closer. As for the lineup, well, Forest make two changes as Kouyate and Awoniyi come in.

Liverpool team news, injuries, lineup

Klopp is without several key players as Joel Matip, Naby Keita, Arthur Melo, Luis Diaz and now Diogo Jota are all out. Darwin Nunez felt a tweak against West Ham but should be okay, while Ibrahima Konate remains a doubt. Given all of that, Andy Robertson comes back into the starting lineup, plus Fabinho and Harvey Elliott start and Curtis Jones makes his long-awaited return. Darwin Nunez isn’t in the squad after suffering a small Injury against West Ham in midweek.

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Nottingham Forest stuns Liverpool: Analysis, Jurgen Klopp reaction originally appeared on NBCSports.com