Standouts, Ox struggles & April thrills – Last word on Forest 0-1 Liverpool

Jurgen Klopp‘s Reds have done it again, booking a spot at Wembley thanks to a 1-0 win over Nottingham Forest to set up another tantalising game with Man City.

Liverpool made seven changes to the XI at the City Ground, a handful enforced due to injury and Covid, and while leaving it late they got the job done in the end.

Diogo Jota was once again responsible for the valuable breakthrough, with his finish again ensuring the Reds are to make the trip to Wembley as they look to keep their FA Cup hopes alive.

It is the first time Klopp has taken his side this far in the competition and with the Premier League title race heating up and the Champions League still up for grabs, April and May are set up beautifully.

Here, This Is Anfield’s Joanna Durkan (@JoannaDurkan_) is joined by Elli Lechtman (@LFCZA) and Danny Dwyer (@decayingcactus) to discuss the latest win and the almighty April action that awaits.


The standouts…

NOTTINGHAM, ENGLAND - Sunday, March 20, 2022: Liverpool's Ibrahima Konaté during the FA Cup Quarter-Final match between Nottingham Forest FC and Liverpool FC at the City Ground. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

ELLI: Konate was immense, once again. He’s just a colossus at the back and the perfect centre half for such an occasion. He was actually my man of the match.

I also thought Gomez accomplished himself well given the circumstances. He isn’t Trent but tried to emulate him as much as possible to support the right-sided attack and also defended well.

On the other side of the defence, Tsimikas did well for the goal, especially as he crossed it with his “weaker” foot. Diaz as a sub also excelled and caused Forest problems towards the end of the game.

DANNY: Firstly, games like this is all about the result. Nothing should be read into the quality of performance when squad rotation and a hectic fixture schedule is active.

We had a mission to navigate a tricky away game to reach the FA Cup semi-finals and we did it.

I agree with you Elli, Tsimikas is always heavily involved and gets himself another assist – he’s becoming a fan favourite as a backup left-back so full credit to him.

I thought Konate again was excellent, that was an intense game for him and he handled it well. Likewise with Gomez, who can be forgiven if struggling for rhythm. I prefer him at centre-back but there’s a current need to deploy him at right-back in Trent’s absence.

NOTTINGHAM, ENGLAND - Sunday, March 20, 2022: Liverpool and Nottingham Forest players line-up before the FA Cup Quarter-Final match between Nottingham Forest FC and Liverpool FC at the City Ground. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

He was great, even had two shots himself and looked solid. He’ll have a big role towards the end of the season with three games a week every week.

Having squad depth at the moment is refreshing because our bench always improves the game. Norwich at home in the league, Inter away, Arsenal last week and then Forest have all been positively impacted by the changes we’ve been able to make.

JOANNA: I’ll echo those Gomez shouts, he was brilliant. Assured and composed at all the right moments and his work driving forward was also to be admired.

With minutes having proven hard to come by, I was a little worried he might be slightly off the pace but that was not the case at all and as Trent deputies go, he’s a trusty one.

Konate too is certainly worth a mention, but it was the general calm and composed nature of the performance that I enjoyed. Forest had their moments but the occasion at the City Ground rarely rattled the team – it was just creating the breakthrough that took a little too long.

A semi-final now awaits against City, could not have asked for more!


The bad…

NOTTINGHAM, ENGLAND - Sunday, March 20, 2022: Liverpool's Roberto Firmino during the FA Cup Quarter-Final match between Nottingham Forest FC and Liverpool FC at the City Ground. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

ELLI: Obviously, Ox struggled throughout. He has become a bit-part player now, and our style has evolved so much since his big injury from 2018. He was clearly frustrated when he went off. I think he’s off in the summer.

And for me, Bobby also didn’t do that well. Seemed to be complacent at times and the chance in the first half should have been taken.

JOANNA: I actually think Bobby was good and bad in equal measure. His work in the areas away from the final third were well-executed, a good first touch and solid build-up play.

But he definitely struggled with that final pass and he had to put his first-half shot away or set up Jota, poorly executed in the end.

DANNY: Going back to Ox, his body language left a sour taste. Mouthing off when he got subbed and sulking on the bench failing to show a glimpse of happiness when we scored. He had a similar attitude when we won the Carabao Cup. I don’t like that.

I know things haven’t been easy for him but it’s a team game and the team and our ambitions come before his feelings. The likes of Tsimikas and Minamino must be frustrated with their lack of game time too but they never sulk and work hard when called upon.

Ox’s performances don’t warrant more game time, that is the hard truth. I’d be surprised if we still had him in the summer. A very likeable character with clear ability but sadly cannot be relied upon to stay fit or deliver consistent performances.

NOTTINGHAM, ENGLAND - Sunday, March 20, 2022: Liverpool's Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain during the FA Cup Quarter-Final match between Nottingham Forest FC and Liverpool FC at the City Ground. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

JOANNA: Don’t want to pile on, but I agree with you both regarding Ox and his future – we’ve just moved on from what he can offer us.

Other than that, I didn’t think Jota had a great game – notably weak in the challenge and first touch was off – but when he continually scores the winner there really is not much to complain about!

DANNY: And as good as the atmosphere was, some of the things being chanted by the Forest fans is, unfortunately, something we Reds are becoming used to and it’s becoming extremely tiresome.

To have 97 seats left vacant with respect paid to the Hillsborough victims, I found it bizarre to hear their fans chanting “Always the victims” for the majority of the game along with the usual shouts mocking poverty. It needs to stop. It’s not football banter.

It’s got nothing to do with sport and it’s a real stain on the majority of matches. Not all away fans are like this, it’s normally sections of crowds letting their club down, but yesterday it seemed to be the full mass of Forest fans and I’m glad Jürgen mentioned his discontent in his post-match interview.


And what a month April is set to be!

LONDON, ENGLAND - Wednesday, March 16, 2022: Liverpool's Diogo Jota (C) celebrates with team-mate Thiago Alcantara (R) after scoring the first goal during the FA Premier League match between Arsenal FC and Liverpool FC at the Emirates Stadium. Liverpool won 2-0. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

ELLI: April is going to be a wild ride. We were slightly lucky with the Champions League draw but Benfica did knock out Ajax. The period will test each and every player.

Firstly, let’s hope everyone returns from the international break injury-free. Obviously, some might be quite disappointed as this is the break that finalises the World Cup spots!

JOANNA: My heart rate picks up just thinking about it all! It’s a dream scenario for Liverpool the quadruple will now still be alive until at least mid-April.

These truly are the days. The Reds are not playing out of their skin but they’re winning ugly and that’s all that’s needed, and that they can still go up a few gears offers plenty of added promise.

As Elli alluded to, we can’t be taking Benfica lightly but if we can get a decent enough buffer in the first leg then it opens up the door for needed rotation in the second between the two City games.

It’s equally terrifying, in all the good ways, and exhilarating! Bring it on.

Mohamed Salah goal vs Man City, Anfield, 2021 (PA Images / Alamy Stock Photo)

DANNY: This is what being a football supporter is all about. These are the days you dream of. On paper, no team comes through our April schedule with a 100% winning record but if any team is capable, it’s this Liverpool team.

Fighting for a quadruple in April, does it get any more exciting? I’m absolutely skint but wouldn’t have it any other way. Every game is massive and there’s no margin for error.

The whole squad will be needed to help get us over the line and I have no doubts the supporters will be creating atmospheres to inspire the team.

Looking forward to the mental respite during this international break though! I encourage all Reds to take a breather and get ready to strap yourselves in from April 2.