Nottingham Forest 0 Liverpool 1: Was this the kind of win champions deliver? – The Briefing

Somehow, Liverpool keep finding a way.

An afternoon which looked certain to finish in frustration actually ended in frantic, joyous celebrations as Darwin Nunez’s header in the last minute of stoppage time secured a 1-0 win at Nottingham Forest.

It extends Liverpool’s lead at the top of the table to four points ahead of Manchester City’s game against Manchester United tomorrow and Arsenal’s at Sheffield United on Monday.

We dissect the main talking points of another remarkable day.

Leggy Liverpool do it again (somehow)

On an afternoon when very little went right in the final third for Liverpool, Darwin Nunez stepped up to become the saviour.

So often late goals define title races and if there was ever a moment to suggest Liverpool will lift the Premier League title in May it was this one.

The celebrations in the away end when Nunez nodded in Alexis Mac Allister’s cross in the final of eight added minutes told their own story, with flares being sent into the air and fans tumbling onto the pitch.

It really did feel like a milestone moment – especially given this had looked to the day that Liverpool’s injuries were finally catching up with them.

There was a tiredness to their performance given their exploits over the last six days in cup competitions and the number of key players still missing. They dominated possession and only created half chances for the most part.

Luis Diaz was Liverpool’s most threatening attacker in the first half, whereas Cody Gakpo struggled to influence proceedings and both Mac Allister and Harvey Elliott were neat and tidy but lacking true creativity.

For the first time in a while, however, Klopp had senior attacking options off the bench and it was one of them – Nunez – who made the difference.

When the standards at the top of the table are so high, a draw would have felt like a blow to Liverpool’s title hopes. As it is, this only underlines the impression that this sseason could be turning into something very special.

This was a game Liverpool were expected to win. They have the chance to take back control of their fate next weekend against City at Anfield but they will need more players back and a much improved display.

Klopp needs his midfielders fit to start

Joe Gomez’s introduction to the No 6 role was navigated well in midweek against Southampton, but operating in the same role against Nottingham Forest proved a much tougher test.

Liverpool’s No 6 role requires them to set the tempo in possession. While Gomez was not shy of trying and he did play some good passes, he is understandably not the most naturally gifted footballer compared to Alexis Mac Allister in that role and ball movement was not as sharp as it could have been at times – especially in the first half. Mac Allister also repeatedly dropped deeper to help progress the ball, but that left Liverpool one attacker light.

It was also a bigger challenge defensively with Morgan Gibbs-White a threatening presence throughout and he was caught out on a handful of occasions, conceding fouls in poor areas.

Joe Gomez filled in as a No6 for Liverpool (Shaun Botterill/Getty Images)

To his credit, Gomez once again grew into the game and the role. He managed the game much better from his position in the second half as Liverpool ramped up the pressure and penned Nottingham Forest in.

This is a difficult role – a point underlined when, after Wataru Endo had come on as a substitute, allowing Gomez to switch to left-back, Forest still had threatening moments on the counter-attack.

But ultimately it showed how much Endo, Curtis Jones and Dominik Szoboszlai are missed when none are available to start. Klopp will hope that it is a problem which he does not have to grapple with for much longer.

Clark shines again

Since the start of 2024, Bobby Clark has risen to every challenge put in front of him.

First it was a substitute appearance away at Arsenal in the FA Cup, then more recently another in the Carabao Cup final against Chelsea and then 90 minutes again in the FA Cup against Southampton.

His latest challenge was being handed his first Premier League start by Jurgen Klopp and as has been the theme throughout, he did not look out of place.

That was much was evident early on when he nutmegged Nottingham Forest midfielder Ryan Yates, a moment of impudent skill which set the tone for what was a confident and composed performance.

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Bobby Clark impressed once again (Andrew Powell/Liverpool FC via Getty Images)

He was involved consistently, showing for the ball in all areas. He would drop deep and drive forward, and he was a presence around the box. The only minor criticism was his lack of conviction when he had the ball in promising situations in the box.

Overall it was another big tick for Clark’s development. Klopp evidently trusts him enough to start a Premier League game, but that trust will only have grown even more.

What’s next for Liverpool

Thursday, March 7: Sparta Prague (A), Europa League last 16 first leg, 5.45pm UK, 12.45pm ET

Liverpool restart their European campaign with a trip to the Czech league leaders. The teams have only met once in their history – another Europa League tie, this time in 2011, when Liverpool won 1-0 on aggregate.

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(Top photo: Shaun Botterill/Getty Images)

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