Simon Mignolet ranked second in the list of last season’s clean sheets. Here is why I think he will be a crucial part in this season’s fight for Champions League football.
Debate on Simon Mignolet as a goalkeeper and whether or not he is competent is ongoing. His form has been, in two seasons, been up and down but when he on form he really is a top shot-stopper. He arrived from Sunderland in the summer transfer window in 2013 to provide competition for Pepe Reina who departed in favour of regular football.
Mignolet has the unfortunate trait of suffering knocks to his confidence which greatly influences his play. Last season Rodgers dropped his number one goalkeeper “indefinitely” as a result of the shocking run of form the Belgian was going through. He only came back into the side when Brad Jones limped off with an injury against Burnley.
All jokes aside it must be awful as a goalkeeper in a Liverpool side. The back four is offered next to no protection from midfield with with there being a complete lack of an out-and-out defensive midfielder. Henderson isn’t one and neither is James Milner. While Emre Can is a fantastic as a powerhouse but as a shield – almost useless.
And then we have Martin Skrtel who seems, for some unapparent reason, to be un-droppable. Simply put: opposition midfielders love playing against Liverpool given that they get a free run. Joe Allen, for instance, does not possess the abilities to protect the back four capably.
At times Mignolet can be maddeningly frustrating, then astonish you with a brilliant save and then he’s gone and done something daft like try and control the ball out of the air instead of catch it. The result, you ask? Corner to West Bromwich Albion. I seem to recall one such maddeningly frustrating situation that occurred on a sunny day at Old Trafford. Our Belgian shot-stopper received the ball and on the cusp of clearing it he faked right. All the while Wayne Rooney was on his tail the whole time. It was also the first time I have seen Brendan Rodgers shout.
During the 2013/2014 season all sense seemed to be turned upside down with Liverpool finishing second in the league and qualifying for the Champions League for the first time since 2009. It was a season of terrific attacking displays and great spirit that truly epitomized what Liverpool is all about. Passion and quality football. The emotions that ran through Anfield that season were all down to the goals that were scored by one of the most lethal duos in English football.
The shambles that was Liverpool’s defence in that season makes me shudder. Aly Cissokho and Glen Johnson as the fullbacks is enough to make any top half manager quake in his boots at the thought of having them as among the first choices. So in order for Liverpool to succeed this season a balance will need to be found between goals scored and goals conceded, a balance between attack and defence.
If you take a look at Chelsea before they signed Diego Costa my point will become clear. They weren’t scoring all that many goals but they were a class act in defence, well, they parked the bus. Liverpool should look to emulate this and make it the blueprint for the season.
The following link is evidence of his quality in goal: