Brendan Rodgers has again come out in defence of his under-fire goalkeeper Simon Mignolet after another tough week for the Liverpool stopper. The Belgian goalkeeper has been singled out for some stinging criticism for his performances this season, and Mignolet was again under the microscope for another far from convincing display against Leicester City. While Liverpool eventually came away 3-1 winners against Leicester, a number of Mignolet mistakes once again forced Rodgers to come out in defence of the 26-year old.
Speaking after Liverpool’s second straight Premier League win, Rodgers insisted Mignolet is “working hard” to improve on the training ground after another performance that had some fans calling on the manager to sign a new keeper in January. With only Brad Jones as back-up, some feel the lack of competition for places has been one of the key reasons behind Mignolet’s poor form this season. A number of experienced keepers have been linked with a move to Anfield in January, from Victor Valdes to Petr Cech, but Rodgers is reportedly set to keep faith with the former Sunderland number-one.
Mignolet enjoyed a successful start to his Liverpool career, playing a key part in Liverpool’s incredible second place finish in last season’s Premier League table after replacing Pepe Reina as the club’s first choice keeper. But things have been very different for both Liverpool and Mignolet this season, and the club currently find themselves eighth in the table and facing the prospect of an uphill task to finish in the top-four this season. While the Premier League betting is all but ruling out Liverpool of being in with a chance of qualifying for next season’s Champions League, fans will point to a dismal first half of the season should they fall short, and in particular Mignolet’s form.
Liverpool fans could be forgiven for feeling frustrated should Rodgers continue to back Mignolet if the Belgian’s form doesn’t improve before January. With the likes of Valdes and Cech both reportedly available in the New Year, it would be hard for Rodgers to argue either of those wouldn’t be an improvement on Mignolet at the moment.
Even if the club don’t decide to bring in a big name to instantly replace Mignolet, Rodgers needs to see the urge for him to add some genuine competition for the number-one spot. Since his arrival from Sunderland Mignolet has had a clean run at the goalkeeping position and there is a strong case to suggest that is the problem. While Brad Jones wears the number-one jersey, the Australian has made less than 10 Premier League appearances in his five seasons at the club and isn’t a genuine rival to Mignolet.
Liverpool’s problems might not start and end with their goalkeeper but Mignolet’s form has played a part in the team’s dodgy defence this season. The 26-year old showed against Leicester that he still has plenty of work to do when it comes to having the ball at his feet, and there have been more than a few moments this season when the Liverpool defence have looked hesitant in passing the ball back to their keeper.