Liverpool will be hoping to keep their quadruple dreams alive when they face Nottingham Forest in the quarter-finals of the FA Cup this weekend.
Premier League giants Liverpool will be in action in the quarter-finals of the FA Cup on Sunday evening when they travel to the City Ground to take on EFL Championship side Nottingham Forest.
Liverpool have had a fairly straightforward run in the FA Cup, having eased past Shrewsbury Town, Cardiff City and Norwich City in the last three rounds of the tournament. The Reds are one of the most in-form teams in the country and have lost just one game in all competitions in 2022. Jurgen Klopp’s side head into Sunday’s game on the back of a crucial Premier League win over Arsenal.
Having lifted the Carabao Cup already, Liverpool have a chance of winning the quadruple as they are just a point behind Manchester City in the Premier League and have made it to the quarter-finals of the FA Cup and the UEFA Champions League. Standing in the way of their progression in the FA Cup are Nottingham Forest, who have been on a giant-killing run in the competition.
Under the tutelage of former Liverpool youth team manager Steve Cooper, Nottingham Forest ousted Premier League sides Arsenal (1-0) and Leicester City (4-1) in their first two matches in the cup competition, before eliminating Huddersfield Town to set up a date with the Merseyside giants. Forest defeated QPR in their previous game to make it nine games unbeaten in all competitions.
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🎞 Pre-Liverpool (h): Steve Cooper
— Nottingham Forest FC (@NFFC) March 18, 2022
Nottingham Forest have been dealt a fresh injury blow as key defender Scott McKenna has been sidelined with a hamstring injury. He joins fellow defenders Steve Cook and Max Lowe on the sidelines for the Championship outfit, along with key striker Lewis Grabban.
McKenna’s absence is a headache for manager Steve Cooper, who might be forced to start in-form midfielder Ryan Yates as a centre-back. He will have Tobias Figueiredo and Joe Worrall as partners in the three-man backline in front of goalkeeper Ethan Horvath. Djed Spence, who has been in top form recently and is a target for Liverpool, should slot in at right wing-back, while Jack Colback should start on the left.
With Yates moving into the defensive unit, it should pave the way for Cafu to start in the centre of the park after a couple of impressive cameos off the bench recently. He will have Manchester United loanee James Garner alongside him, with the pair looking to stifle Liverpool’s attacking moves.
Philip Zinckernagel will start as the No. 10 and will look to exploit the spaces between the lines to create chances for his teammates while posing a goal threat himself. Brennan Johnson, who has been a revelation, should occupy one of the two centre-forward slots alongside Keinan Davis, with Sam Surridge an option from the bench.
Probable Lineup (3-4-1-2): Horvath; Worrall, Figueiredo, Yates; Spence, Garner, Cafu, Colback; Zinckernagel; Davis, Johnson
Liverpool have also been handed an injury blow as Trent Alexander-Arnold is ruled out with a hamstring issue. However, James Milner is back in contention after recovering from illness. Kostas Tsimikas was out with illness against Arsenal, and it is unclear if he will be available for the FA Cup tie.
There were plenty of talking points in the boss' pre-Nottingham Forest press conference 🎙
Our round-up 👇
— Liverpool FC (@LFC) March 18, 2022
Jurgen Klopp will set his team up in the usual 4-3-3 formation at the City Ground. While Caoimhin Kelleher has been the preferred cup goalkeeper, the manager has confirmed that Alisson Becker will take the field on Sunday evening. Ibrahima Konate should replace Joel Matip as Virgil van Dijk’s partner, while Joe Gomez and Andrew Robertson slot in as the full-backs for the visiting side.
There could be scope for some rotation in the centre of the park, with Klopp likely to deploy Jordan Henderson as the defensive midfielder in place of Fabinho. Curtis Jones should come into the starting XI as one of the two advanced midfielders, while Naby Keita is also likely to get the nod.
Klopp confirmed in his presser that Mohamed Salah had a knock after the Arsenal clash. The Egyptian may be rested for the FA Cup tie. Instead, Takumi Minamino could come into the side on the right flank, while Roberto Firmino, who scored in midweek, should get the nod through the middle. January signing Luis Diaz should continue on the left wing, although Divock Origi could be an option.
Probable Lineup (4-3-3): Alisson; Gomez, Konate, van Dijk, Robertson; Jones, Henderson, Keita; Minamino, Firmino, Diaz
- This is the first FA Cup meeting between Nottingham Forest and Liverpool since the 1988/89 semi-finals, when Liverpool won 3-1 at Old Trafford on their way to lifting the trophy.
- Liverpool are winless in their past 12 away games against Nottingham Forest in all competitions (D7 L5), since a 2-0 victory in October 1984.
- This is Nottingham Forest’s first FA Cup quarter-final appearance since the 1995/96 campaign, when they lost 1-0 at home to Aston Villa.
- This is the first time Liverpool have reached the quarter-finals of the FA Cup under Jurgen Klopp. Their previous appearance at this stage of the competition was in April 2015 under Brendan Rodgers.
- Since the start of 2020, Liverpool forward Takumi Minamino has scored nine goals in domestic cup competitions (six in the Carabao Cup, three in the FA Cup), the joint-most by any player alongside Jay Rodriguez and Kelechi Iheanacho.
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Despite hardly playing that much, Firmino’s influence on our season has been class pic.twitter.com/fzfhjKM5iL
— 🥤 (@TheImmortalKop) March 17, 2022
The Brazilian has found himself on the fringes of the first team in recent weeks, with Jurgen Klopp preferring the likes of Diogo Jota and Sadio Mane through the middle to accommodate Luis Diaz in the side. Firmino has had to deal with injury issues as well. However, the striker proved his worth again after coming on against Arsenal in midweek by scoring a cheeky goal to help Liverpool bag a crucial victory.
The 30-year-old has scored nine goals and registered four assists from 25 games in all competitions this term. But with his contract expiring in a little over a year, Firmino will need to make the most of his opportunities in the remainder of the campaign to earn a new deal at Liverpool, especially at a time when the Reds will also have to negotiate the expiring contracts of Mane and Mohamed Salah.
Nottingham Forest 0-2 Liverpool
Nottingham Forest have been brilliant in the FA Cup so far, while their recent overall form has also been quite solid. However, they will be coming up against a Liverpool team who are high on confidence and have looked in fine fettle in 2022. The absence of key figures like Scott McKenna could also hurt the hosts’ chances on Sunday. As a result, The Hard Tackle predicts a straightforward win for Jurgen Klopp’s side at the City Ground.