Nottingham Forest captain Ryan Yates says they can beat Arsenal next week


The only disappointment for Nottingham Forest after an epic win is having to wait a week until their next game at Arsenal.

‘We’d like it to come quicker,’ admitted captain Ryan Yates, who struggled to make himself heard above the din of hundreds of Forest fans who waited to greet their heroes outside the City Ground.

‘We’ll be underdogs again at the Emirates on Sunday but inside the dressing room we feel we’re more than a match for them.’

Bold words but anyone who witnessed Forest’s first win since August 14, and first against Liverpool since 1996, will understand.

From the moment Forest saw Jurgen Klopp’s Liverpool-lite teamsheet, the Premier League’s bottom club were infused with adrenalin and belief that fed off a raucous crowd.

Taiyo Ayoniwi, a former Liverpool player, bagged the only goal on 55 minutes while keeper Dean Henderson, on loan from Manchester United, produced some wonderful saves, the best from Virgil van Dijk in stoppage time.

Though Liverpool had 75 per cent possession, it didn’t feel like that. This was the afternoon Forest gelled as a cohesive unit rather than a collection of strangers having incorporated 22 new signings.

‘We had to go back to basics,’ said Yates, who has come through the youth ranks at Forest.

‘The main thing was matching Liverpool’s intensity. They had injuries to key players so we thought, “Why not?”

‘Seeing their line-up gave us a little boost. We’d had an extra day’s rest from the midweek fixtures and they aren’t in the best moment.

‘Sometimes we dip in the first 10 minutes of the second half. We focused massively on not doing that again — this time we scored.’

Klopp surprisingly left Trent Alexander-Arnold and Jordan Henderson on the bench despite missing key players like Thiago, Darwin Nunez and Luis Diaz.

He was incredulous at the loss with Van Dijk alone squandering four chances — but Forest also kept Alisson busy.

The winner was converted by Awoniyi from Steve Cook’s cross. The Nigerian was a Liverpool player for six years but never played a first-team game.

Only three weeks ago when Forest were stuffed 4-0 at Leicester, Cooper’s days looked numbered given the history of owner Evangelos Marinakis.

Instead, Marinakis listened to fans, gave his manager a new contract and Forest have conceded only twice in four games since.

Cooper’s decision to select the physical Ayoniwi up front instead of Brennan Johnson or Emmanuel Dennis was a masterstroke.

Johnson was used as a substitute but bubbled with excitement at the end, symbolising the togetherness Forest need to build on this result to fight relegation.

‘It was a big game with big history and the boys turned up. An unbelievable day,’ he said.

Henderson jumped into the crowd at full-time to celebrate with fans and Yates backed him to make a late run into Gareth Southgate’s World Cup squad.

‘I think he deserves it,’ said the skipper. But the biggest takeaway was that Forest have to make the City Ground a fortress.

‘That is what is going to keep us in the league — clean sheets and good home form,’ added Yates. ‘If we can beat Liverpool we can beat anyone.’

On a poor day for the visitors, at least midfielder Curtis Jones came through his first start of the season.

‘I was off for 10 weeks, came on last Wednesday and then 90 minutes today. I am tired but happy to be back,’ said the 21-year-old.Klopp may need him and another returnee Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain to play some part against Ajax in the Champions League on Wednesday with Thiago set to miss out again with an ear infection.


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