Reports of a new deal for Liverpool goalkeeper Simon Mignolet emerged right as the players were lining up for last night’s Premier League match against Arsenal. The Belgian shot stopper’s response to the news of a new deal isn’t one Liverpool fans are looking on very kindly, with Mignolet facing criticism on two of Arsenal’s three goals.
Despite his ability as a shot stopper and that he led the league in shutouts at the half-way point, Mignolet has faced heavy criticism for his decision making, his aerial prowess, and his command of the penalty area. With a new contract lined up and his manager continuing to defend him, though, Liverpool fans may have to accept things aren’t changing any time soon.
"For the second goal he needs help from all the players," said the manager, and in fairness to Mignolet, Adam Lallana should really have been able to block the low cross from the corner at the near post before it got through to Oliver Giroud. On the first, Mamadou Sakho’s misjudged header attempt similarly played a role in gifting Arsenal a chance to score.
In both cases, Mignolet clearly could have done better. On the second goal, he expected the ball to be swung in over the top and was slow to react when it headed towards his near post. His subsequent attempt to handle was embarrassing. On the first, Sakho’s mistake may have given Arron Ramsey the opening, but then it was Mignolet who couldn’t save at the near post.
The second was the kind of error many expect from Mignolet these days simply as a matter of course, but they’re supposed to be a trade-off. And what Liverpool is supposed to get back in return is a superb shot-stopper. They didn’t get that on Arsenal’s first, though, and taken together it’s about the worst possible response imaginable to news of a new deal.
Some have responded in turn by calling for returning loanee Danny Ward to face Manchester United on Sunday. That seems unlikely. It also seems short-sighted, given how poorly things went for Liverpool the last time they benched Mignolet against United—for anyone who has forgotten, Brad Jones made fans pine for Mignolet on the way to a 3-0 defeat.
Even more recently, fans began to call for Adam Bogdan to replace Mignolet. Then Bogdan made key errors in back to back appearances in cup matches and made it clear why he never actually had been in contention to usurp the Belgian. Mignolet, despite his shortcomings, is going to start on the weekend. And he’s almost certain to sign his new deal before then.
The fans may not be happy with Mignolet's error-prone ways, but it appears the club aren't ready to move on from him just yet. Hopefully, then, his response to his imminent new deal is better against United on the weekend than it was against Arsenal on Wednesday.