Four key battles that could decide Liverpool vs Nottingham Forest

After emphatic success mid-week in the Europa League and a comfortable Merseyside derby win, Liverpool go into the weekend's clash with Nottingham Forest in great form.

Momentum is without doubt one of the biggest strengths in football and it's well and truly in Liverpool's favour going into the tie with 15th place Nottingham Forest.

Liverpool have won their two most recent fixtures, both of which were played at Anfield, meanwhile Forest bottled a two-goal lead with just seven minutes to play against Luton in their most recent clash.

Forest are also in the midst of a mini injury crisis right now, with Liverpool cult hero Divock Origi unfortunately ruled out of the clash, alongside Callum Hudson-Odoi and Gonzalo Montiel, while Nuno Tavares and club talisman Taiwo Awoniyi both doubts.

READ MORE: Liverpool vs Nottingham Forest – Match Preview

With that said, no game is a for gone conclusion, and Liverpool will still need to be on their game to walk away with the three points – Forest did beat Jurgen Klopp's side just last season after all.

If the Reds are to win on Sunday afternoon, here are some of the key battles that could decide the game.


LUIS DIAZ VS SERGE AURIER

Luis Diaz

Luis Diaz is almost certain to start on the left flank on Sunday afternoon. Liverpool's Colombian trickster was completely rested against Toulouse mid-week and has established himself as first-choice on the wing in Premier League games.

Diaz's dynamism and willingness to take men on gives the Reds an unpredictability in attack and he has developed a fantastic understanding with the club's other forwards – particularly Darwin Nunez and Mohamed Salah – since returning from his long-term injury earlier this year.

He has the ability to make fools out of the league's right-backs (including Ashley Young last weekend), meaning Aurier has no easy task in stopping Liverpool's new number seven.

The former Porto man has, however, failed to score or assist in the league since August and is past due a contribution...

READ MORE: Why Luis Diaz is like no other player Liverpool have

IBRAHIMA KONATE VS CHRIS WOOD

© Proshots - Ibrahima Konate

With former Liverpool man Awoniyi in such hot goalscoring form this season, Chris Wood would have been an unlikely starter before the Nigerian's injury.

While Awoniyi could potentially be fit enough to face Klopp's side, he remains a doubt and Wood is most likely to lead the line and after scoring a brace against Luton last weekend.

The New Zealand target man will be hoping to get the better of Liverpool's defence and get on the scoresheet once again.

Though Wood has never scored against Liverpool in 12 appearances in all competitions, he is, undoubtedly a big presence in attack.

In Virgil van Dijk and Ibrahima Konate, the Reds have the height and strength to cope with aerial battles, but will have to be careful of getting drawn in and committing fouls.

Konate, in particular, was very nearly sent off against Everton and his occasional rashness may be an area Forest look to target, as Liverpool seek to avoid a fifth red card of the season already.

Keeping Konate out of the referee Chris Kavanagh's little book will be made more of a challenge by virtue of the fact that the Frenchman will also have to cover out wide and deal with the Forest wingers, when Trent Alexander-Arnold is drawn into midfield.

READ MORE: Jurgen Klopp gives honest opinion on Ibrahima Konate decision in Everton game 

DOMINIK SZOBOSZLAI VS IBRAHIM SANGARE

Liverpool's new look midfield is absolutely night and day compared to the older, leggy midfield they were fielding towards the tail end of last season. And a large part of why the Reds have been able to control games from the centre of the park is the signing of Dominik Szoboszlai.

The club's new number eight has absolutely everything – not only is he very technical and a great passer of the ball, but he has a feet like traction engines, and he isn't afraid to do the boring stuff either.

Perhaps the only thing that the Hungarian captain hasn't done since joining the Reds is register an assist, which is mad considering the plethora of chances he has created.

However, against a depleted Forest side, this is a great chance for the 22-year-old to pick himself up his first assist and get his name in the headlines.

Trying to stop Szoboszlai from flourishing in his right-sided number eight position will be Ibrahim Sangare, one of Forest's own midfield summer singings.

The naturally defensive midfielder (one of hundreds linked with Liverpool over the summer) will certainly have a tough time keeping Liverpool's number eight quiet, but even if he does, the Reds often overload their creativity on the right-hand side with Alexander-Arnold and Salah, so it's hard to see Liverpool's right flank not having an impact on this game.

TRENT ALEXANDER-ARNOLD vs ANTHONY ELANGA

© Proshots - Trent Alexander-Arnold

Speaking of Alexander-Arnold, the Reds' vice-captain will have to be careful that he doesn't becoming defensively complacent with the hosts likely to have the lion's share of possession on Sunday.

21-year-old Swede Anthony Elanga has perhaps been Forest's best attacker so far this season, having joined from Manchester United during the summer.

The winger has three assists (including two last time out against Luton) and a goal in the Premier League and has outshone the likes of Morgan Gibbs-White at Steve Cooper's side in 2023/24.

Alexander-Arnold will likely get plenty of time on the ball to roam the right flank, but Elanga will be looking to exploit space in behind on the counter – that is, if he's fit. Speaking in his pre-match press conference manager Steve Cooper confirmed the winger was touch and go for the game after suffering with an illness.

Whoever he's up against, Liverpool's number 66 has been impressive recent and shone defensively against Everton and Brighton. However, the Reds' tweaked system means they are still prone to occasional positioning gaps.

Konate's role on the right side of defence will also be key in snuffing out attacks and covering the space when needed.

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