[Liverpool 3 – 0 Nottingham Forest].
It was kind of Forest to allow Salah to maintain his Anfield streak, now up to 14 straight games. The visitors were well beaten already by that time, but Mo still needed that goal involvement, so it was a nice gesture. The ambitious ball upfield to him by Szoboszlai was mint, but the error in communications between Turner and – I think it was Yates – was all because the Egyptian has this effect on opposition defenses merely by being present. He is always so alive to these kinds of opportunities, so tenacious, and so tricky to handle, and everybody knows it, which in and of itself increases the threat.
Salah slotted it home with aplomb. The ball hit the dead center of the goal, a minor detail that served to highlight how sharp he is at the moment.
But he wasn’t the only one to torment that resolute Forest defensive line. Jota’s first half provided a masterclass in harassment, and his goal off a superb Turner save off an even superbier Nunez strike was a poacher’s delight. His subsequent gesture, dedicating the goal to teammate Diaz, was touching. Jota then started the move that led to the second goal in a clever fashion. It turned out to be a Liverpool classic, worthy of any team goal highlights reel. Nunez finished that one off, and if anyone thinks it was an easy tap-in, I suggest they look closely at the replay. The ball was coming at him so fast and with so much power that it was all he could do to sort out his feet to avoid nudging it over the bar. For an example of how not to do it, one merely needs to fast forward about half an hour and look at Forest’s best chance of the game and one Nico Dominguez off a Gibbs-White pass that was a lot easier to handle.
The front line, along with Szobo and to a lesser degree Mac Allister, were ticking like a well oiled machine. Gravenberch, however, looked a little lost, testament perhaps to his superb performance Thursday and a resulting lack of energy.
Make no mistake; Steve Cooper’s Forest is a tricky team to break down, and they will bite if you’re not careful. There’s a reason they did so well last season coming off the Championship, and why they won’t be relegated this year, either. Yet this was a game where they seemed almost irrelevant, and this was due so much to my man-of-the-match, Virgil Van Konate. Yes, you read that right. Virgil was back to his imperious self, and that was so good to see. The way he dispatched the threat from Elanga, in particular, with the sort of impunity we all remember fondly from before that horrific Pickford incident, was pure delight. Elanga is a serious threat, as he showed when his volley rattled Alisson’s crossbar late in the game. Konate, on his end, did amazingly well to cover for Trent and neutralize everything that went the other way from Virgil, something that happened increasingly more often as the Forest players realized nobody was getting through Van Dijk today. The pair earns my nod, but if I have to pick only one, it would have to be Virgil himself.
How far can this team go?