Steve Cooper, in his honest assessment following Nottingham Forest’s 3-1 loss to Liverpool, acknowledged that injuries had severely constrained their ability to execute a gameplan that could have yielded a better result at Anfield.
Liverpool ultimately secured a 3-0 victory over Forest. Despite initial difficulties breaking down the visitors, two quick first-half goals from Diogo Jota and Darwin Nunez propelled Jurgen Klopp’s side to a dominant position. Mo Salah’s goal further solidified Liverpool’s third consecutive win, bringing them within three points of Premier League leaders Tottenham.
Forest faced a challenging predicament without a natural striker to start the game against Liverpool. Divock Origi, a beloved figure among Liverpool fans, was sidelined due to a hip injury, while Chris Wood suffered a hamstring problem in the lead-up to the match. Taiwo Awoniyi, a former Liverpool forward, was only fit enough to make a substitute appearance.
During his post-match press conference, Cooper admitted that Forest had allowed Liverpool too many opportunities to exploit the field, highlighting Liverpool’s status as one of the world’s top teams.
Cooper expressed, “It was undoubtedly a tough afternoon, as it often is here. When you come into a game against Liverpool, you understand that you need to perform exceptionally well and adhere to a specific plan to achieve success.”
The team had to make unplanned player selections and adjust their formation due to the unfortunate absence of key attacking players. Cooper explained, “Two days ago, we were planning to use a back four, but due to Chris’s injury, we had to switch to a five. We had only one player, Anthony Elanga, who could play as a No 9, and it’s a position that is somewhat unfamiliar to him. Two days ago, we didn’t expect him to be available due to illness.”
Cooper emphasized that these challenges were not meant as excuses but rather served as an opportunity for the team to come together and adapt to the situation. Regardless of the formation or lineup chosen to face Liverpool, the team believed they needed to keep the pitch compact. Opening up the field against Liverpool’s high-quality players on a larger pitch often led to trouble, as evidenced by the three goals conceded.
Cooper concluded, “As is often the case at Anfield, the game was likely to be dominated by Liverpool in terms of territory and possession. They had numerous set-plays and were frequently around our box, but they weren’t creating clear chances. We’re disappointed with the goals we conceded, as it’s something we discussed extensively – not allowing the pitch to open up. Unfortunately, we did, and we paid the price.”