Nottingham Forest host Liverpool at the City Ground in their Premier League clash on Saturday afternoon, and Steve Cooper will be hoping that his team can replicate their solid defensive performance seen against Brighton and Hove Albion earlier this week.
The Tricky Trees held Roberto De Zerbi’s side to a 0-0 draw at the Amex stadium on Tuesday night, but whilst a point earned away from home is a positive, their attacking threat remains a problem.
Only Wolves have scored fewer goals (five) than Nottingham Forest (seven) in the Premier League this season, and it’s about time that Cooper started allowing his rarely-seen goal threats the opportunity to build a run of form in the forward line.
Morgan Gibbs-White has played in every Premier League outing and made 10 starting appearances this season. Indeed, the talented attacker has delivered two assists and made 1.3 key passes per game so far, but his latest performance against Brighton should give Cooper every reason to re-evaluate his position in the team.
The 22-year-old completed just nine accurate passes (out of 18) against the Seagulls, lost possession of the ball once for every two touches and didn’t have a single shot over his 90-minute performance. Although Gibbs-White may offer flair and creativity, increasing goalscoring opportunities should be Cooper’s priority given his team’s position at the bottom of the table.
As a result, the Forest boss must unleash Emmanuel Dennis against Liverpool, as the Nigerian forward is not only a proven goalscorer and natural finisher but also offers the creativity in a wider position that Gibbs-White can provide.
Dennis has been predominantly deployed as a centre-forward but has had no trouble playing on the right or left wing throughout his career, with 49 appearances, 10 goals and seven assists delivered in those wide forward roles.
Last season, the £20m Nigerian machine – who was dubbed “very talented” by his former Watford boss Claudio Ranieri – scored 10 Premier League goals, delivered six assists and created seven big chances. He also made one key pass and won 6.2 duels per game across 33 appearances, which shows that he can provide both creativity and goal contributions.
With that in mind, Cooper should give Dennis more opportunities to develop a connection with his team-mates in the forward line, and starting him against Liverpool could be the perfect chance for the 24-uear-old to finally build some form and experience in the Forest team.