Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp has a big decision to make during the international break regarding the best candidate to play in goal when Manchester United pay a visit to Anfield next, and going forward in the Premier League.
It’s a straight shootout between previously established number one Simon Mignolet and new kid on the block, Loris Karius, signed from Klopp’s former club Mainz this summer.
With Karius picking up an injury late in pre-season, the decision was already made for Klopp through until mid-September when the Germany U21 stopper became available.
The Reds boss has since granted his compatriot three straight matches in which to audition for the gloves, taking in a Capital One Cup stroll at Derby, before clashes with Hull and Swansea in the top flight.
While Mignolet has become well-accustomed to criticism over three full seasons guarding the Liverpool net, one legend of the 18-time English champions has publicly thrown his support behind the Belgian.
John Aldridge said: ‘Karius is only a young lad. He’s going to need time and he has looked a bit nervy from what I’ve seen.’ ‘He’s conceded from two corners on the bounce and some of his distribution, which we’ve been led to believe is a strong point, has not exactly been fantastic.
He added: ‘Klopp said he would assess the goalkeeping situation during the international break having given both players an opportunity. ‘And for me, I’d say while Karius could come good one day, Mignolet should be between the sticks at this moment in time.’
With Karius choosing to stay rooted to his line for both goals from corners, it’s debateable whether blame lies with the keeper or the defenders, though the former Stuttgart youth was more culpable for conceding against Hull, where the initial knock down was won in the six-yard box, rather than beyond the far post at the Liberty.
Mignolet has often been accused of the opposite, rushing out to punch and catch at set plays rather than holding his ground, but the stats do tend to support Aldridge’s viewpoint.
In five Premier League games compared to two, the Belgium international has successfully caught 14 times, compared to just once for his understudy.
To put that in context, Petr Cech, Thibaut Courtois and David de Gea have caught 15, 15 and 12 times each in seven matches, while Mignolet’s successful punch count of five trumps all.
While statistics don’t tell the whole story, these numbers certainly depict a keeper in greater command of his box than the other, though this debate is bound to rage for some time to come.
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