Liverpool’s mini-revival came to a crashing halt with a 1-0 defeat at Nottingham Forest, who secured just their second Premier League win for 23 years thanks to Taiwo Awoniyi’s goal.
Awoniyi spent six years as a Liverpool player without ever playing because he was sent out on numerous loans, but he later returned torment his former team and lift his current employers off the bottom of the standings.
Because Darwin Nunez, Diogo Jota, and Luis Diaz were out injured, Liverpool lacked the firepower to crack a stubborn Forest defense, and it showed.
The Reds have already lost more league games in their first 11 games than they did in all of last season, when they narrowly lost the championship to Manchester City.
After a sluggish start to the season, victory over City last weekend and a second 1-0 victory over West Ham in the middle of the week appeared to give Jurgen Klopp’s team a boost.
But with Thiago Alcantara also out with an illness, they lacked the reserves necessary to even hold off a team that hadn’t won since August.
Forest have been patient with manager Steve Cooper, even giving the former Swansea manager a new contract, as he attempts to bring in a Premier League team record 23 new signings in a single transfer window.
The two-time European champions, who withstood a barrage from Brighton to draw 0-0 at the Amex midweek, are gradually starting to see some return on that investment.
Liverpool struggled to convert more than 70% of possession into opportunities in the first half after Klopp made a total of five changes from the team’s victory over West Ham on Wednesday.
The visitors’ best opportunity to break the deadlock before halftime came from a corner when Virgil van Dijk inexplicably tried to head the ball in the direction of Roberto Firmino rather than go for goal himself from close range with a free header.
Ten minutes into the second period it was Forest who struck from a set piece as Ryan Yates’ initial effort came back off the post and Awoniyi was perfectly placed to tap into an unguarded net.
Set-pieces remained Liverpool’s best route to a goal as Firmino headed wide from a corner before Van Dijk’s effort from a Trent-Alexander Arnold free-kick was well saved by Dean Henderson.
At the other end, Alisson Becker kept Liverpool in the game with saves from Brennan Johnson and Morgan Gibbs-White as Forest had plenty of chances to kill the game off on the counter-attack.
But Forest held out to the delight of a packed house at the City Ground to move within one point of moving out of the bottom three.
A third league defeat of the season leaves Liverpool still in seventh, 11 points adrift of leaders Arsenal having played a game more.