By Tony Samboras
After a terrible patch of form mid-season, Liverpool FC’s Belgian goalkeeper, Simon Mignolet, is eyeing an unlikely prize. While few would consider Mignolet to be the top keeper in the Barclays Premier League, he is on track to win the Barclays Golden Glove Award this year. Mignolet’s thirteen clean sheets so far are matched only by Chelsea’s number one, Thibaut Courtois. With Crystal Palace Liverpool’s next opponent, Mignolet will hope his defence can put a stop to Palace’s recent goalscoring form versus the Merseysiders. In order to ensure his prize, Mignolet’s Liverpool side would then have to travel to Stoke and hold the likes of Jon Walters and Peter Crouch goalless.
Most observers using free bets would wager that Courtois and Chelsea’s stingy defence would claim clean sheets against their final two opponents, West Bromwich Albion and Sunderland. There is, of course, the possibility that Chelsea boss Jose Mourinho will rest his number one keeper in one or both of the final matches, with his men having clinched the title two weeks ago. Surely Courtois would fight his manager for the opportunity to win the coveted goalkeeping award.
Starting last season, the Golden Glove award can be given to two or more goalkeepers, in case of a tie in the number of clean sheets recorded. (Previously, in case of a tie, the goalkeeper with more clean sheets per game would be awarded the Golden Glove.) Petr Čech won his third award last year, sharing the accolade with Wojciech Szczęsny, delighting those with bonus bets. Interestingly, both keepers have lost their places this season, with Courtois overtaking the 32-year-old Čech and David Ospina taking over for Szczęsny following errors in early 2015.
If Mignolet were to win the award, it would be the first Golden Glove award for a Liverpool keeper since Pepe Reina earned the prize three years running, from 2006 through 2008.
It would be a surprising end to a whirlwind year for Simon Mignolet, as his form dipped dramatically before the turn of the year. He was relegated to the bench for Liverpool’s mid-December trip to Old Trafford, losing his place to the underwhelming Brad Jones.
It was a short-lived exile, with the Belgian returning to the side on Boxing Day after Jones sustained an injury against Burnley. The Burnley match also proved the low point for Mignolet this season, having drilled a clearance into an opposing attacker, and later in the match, inexplicably allowing a routine back pass to roll out for a corner.
After the turn of the year, however, Mignolet reportedly refocused his goalkeeping energies after an eye-opening chat with his missus, in which Mignolet’s fiance suggested he was “overthinking stuff”. The goalkeeper was perhaps focusing too much on playing with the ball at his feet, instead of commanding his area and keeping the ball out of his goal. The dinner table conversation led to similar advice from the Liverpool coaching staff, which has helped correct the Belgian’s mindset. Bonus bets would have come in otherwise, but the changes have undoubtedly worked well for Mignolet, with the keeper enjoying his best form since arriving on Merseyside in the summer of 2013.
It would be a nice ending to the season for Mignolet, after having attracted criticism from not only his manager, but also many Liverpool supporters and even the likes of former Liverpool goalkeeper Bruce Grobbelaar. Those with free bets to spare should think Mignolet a viable candidate for the top goalkeeping award.
This article was written by Tony Samboras who writes for the www.freebookmakersbetsandbonuses.com.au blog.