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Jurgen Klopp finds new ‘non-negotiable’ Liverpool starter and a £35m transfer bargain

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Jurgen Klopp finds new 'non-negotiable' Liverpool starter and a £35m transfer bargain

Our weekly Liverpool jury columnists look back on Thursday’s Europa League win and ahead to Sunday’s clash with Nottingham Forest

Liverpool made light work of their Europa League group stage game with Toulouse on Thursday evening, dispatching their French opponents 5-1 at Anfield.

Goals from Diogo Jota, Wataru Endo, Darwin Nunez, Ryan Gravenberch and Mohamed Salah helped Jurgen Klopp’s side to a comprehensive victory, which has left the Reds in complete control of Group E.

Attention now turns back to the Premier League, with Nottingham Forest the latest side to make the trip to Merseyside. Anticipating what’s to come ahead of this Sunday afternoon fixture, four Liverpool supporters have shared their views as part of a weekly ECHO fan column.

Rhys Buchanan (city centre, @Rhys_Buchanan) – Europa League knockout stage within touching distance

I was the first to wax lyrical about the glamour of the Europa league at the start of the season but, as we strolled through a classy win against Toulouse inside Anfield on Thursday night, you couldn’t help but think the magic of the competition firmly lies beyond the group stages.

The Reds have had a habit of leaving themselves work to do in Europe, but I’m delighted with how we’ve sailed through this group so far, meaning we can focus energy on the league alone as we head deep into the festive fixture period and start putting up the red baubles on our trees.

I’m loving the freshness and zest in the side at the moment, players off the bench feel just as vital as regular starters. Europa football is offering a solid platform for the likes of Endo and Gravenberch to settle into the team, who have both made compelling cases for more Premier League starts. Looking ahead to Sunday though, it’s a non-negotiable that Nunez starts and hopefully we’ll have every chance of continuing our winning ways.

Andrew Cullen (Widnes, @brothersred5) – £35m Gravenberch class shining through

Liverpool did not produce an impressive performance against Premier League strugglers Everton in the early kick-off last Saturday, but who cares? They got the job done.

Before Ashley Young was given his marching orders, although there was no snarling and biting, the game was nicely balanced, with Everton unusually providing some attacking ambition and Liverpool carving out some good chances on the counter.

After Young’s dismissal, the game became dull and dead with Everton metamorphosing into Sean Dyche’s Burnley team: they were compact, had nine men behind the ball and showed no attacking enterprise.

Despite an overall average performance, which can be explained, in part at least, by Young’s dismissal, Gravenberch was a shining light in the team. He glides forward past opposition players with effortless ease. Fans were treated to further rampaging, elegant runs from the Dutchman against Toulouse on Thursday evening at Anfield.

Gravenberch’s case for being a regular fixture in the midfield is now compelling. He provides the pace and power that the Liverpool midfield has not had for some time. With time and patience, he has every chance of following a similar trajectory to that of the mercurial Szoboszlai.

David Shams (Beijing, @ShamsWriter) – Three points expected against Forest

A pair of commanding back-to-back performances at home to start the new slate of matches. The Merseyside derby, of course, the sweetest of the two. I must admit, I thought there could have been a banana skin or two to trip us up. The 12:30pm kick-off time dip seems to be sorted.

In Europe, we bossed our French cousins (their ownership group has a minority stake in FSG). The best part is it came as the line-up comprised chiefly of folks fighting for time in the main starting eleven. And for the most part, they came through.

At the weekend, I’m looking for Liverpool to keep their pace going. It should be high-flying, exciting football against a side struggling to hit form. Injuries likely means Forest will continue to do so at Anfield on Sunday.

This will be yet another test, though most matches will be. While we struggled mightily last season, there was the impression we had more problems than we should have against sides in the bottom half of the table. A win here, combined with all three points last weekend, and maybe we can start putting it all behind us.

James Noble (Worcestershire, @james_noble98) – Nunez growing in stature by the week

What an enjoyable night Thursday was, as Liverpool made wonderful use of another consistently engaging Anfield outing. Alongside debuts for Luke Chambers, Calum Scanlon and James McConnell, there were five different scorers from four different continents. That included Wataru Endo’s first goal for the club, on an evening when the midfielder became an increasingly dominant force.

Understandably, Darwin Nunez’s miss – which became an assist for the classy Ryan Gravenberch – has gained its share of attention. However, everything he did to work that particular opening, his first-half goal and his all-round performance reflected a player becoming all the more honed.

Diogo Jota’s spellbinding opener oughtn’t go under the radar and neither, of course, should another record for Mohamed Salah. As Jurgen Klopp said post-match – “It’s really easy to fall in love with this team”.

There was plenty to like about Saturday’s win over Everton, too. The collective patience and assurance felt healthy and encouraging.

Nottingham Forest’s visit on Sunday is another matchup that has an intriguing look to it. Steve Cooper’s side appear a team willing and able to counter with considerable menace. Once more, persistence, quality and structural security look likely to be key requirements for us.

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