The Anfield Wrap’s match preview before Liverpool v Nottingham Forest in the 2022-2023 Premier League at Anfield…


LEEDS United away was fun, wasn’t it?

I definitely didn’t say the same last season, despite the win, so I didn’t make the trip myself this time around. However, I’ve heard no bad things from those who did, and watching it on the telly was a pleasure.

No tragedy chanting — an area we seem to be making really positive progress in already, so a big thanks is due to all who have been pushing forward with that — and a thoroughly convincing and fun win to boot.

The fun aspect is really important.

This season has been no barrel of laughs whatsoever. Liverpool sides have been similarly inconsistent in terms of results in the past, but they did so by being free-scoring and free-conceding, which was at the very least fun.

This season has seen The Reds be more negligent, making the same mistakes over and over, while also being profligate in front of goal against the kind of sides they should be sweeping aside at this point in their progression.

They have the firepower to do so, Monday proved as much, but they’ve toiled far too much.

Liverpool's Diogo Jota (L) celebrates with team-mates after scoring the fifth goal during the FA Premier League match between Leeds United FC and Liverpool FC at Elland Road

There was very little toil at Elland Road, just teeth. Teeth are much more fun, especially if you get to watch your team sink them into opponents. Liverpool need to ensure they do that from now until the end of the season, because that’s what is fun and the fun makes this whole activity worth its salt.

So who brings the fun at 3pm on Saturday? The back five will surely continue to remain the same while this Trent Alexander-Arnold experiment goes on, if only to help establish some consistency with it. We may see Kostas Tsimikas at some point over the next two games, as the lone and regular change for freshness’ sake.

In midfield, Thiago Alcantara will be itching to make a start, after getting just five minutes on Monday. It would be a shame if Curtis Jones was overlooked given his progress since his reintroduction into the side, so it may prove that West Ham on Wednesday is the one the Jürgen Klopp identifies as being change-ridden.

Upfront, Darwin Nunez will also be itching and while there’s no doubt he will have been made up to see his teammate Diogo Jota back among the goals, there is a chance that brace limits his involvement for a little longer. Luis Diaz, while close, seems an unlikely starter as of yet, but again the manager may have his eyes on Wednesday for both.

So, assuming he does pretty much stick with the team that has faced both Arsenal and Leeds now, that would leave a lot of fun in reserve on the bench. Fun on the bench will help with fun later in games, and fun later in games is likely to lead to more post-match fun after a positive result.

It’s just got to be fun. We’ve not had enough of that this season, so we’ll be needing much more of it next time around.

That journey starts now, Reds.

Predicted 11: Alisson; Trent, Konate, Van Dijk, Robertson; Henderson, Fabinho, Jones; Salah, Gakpo, Jota

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