It only goes to show how fast things change in football; last month Liverpool looked more likely than not to replace under-fire goalkeeper Simon Mignolet with just about anyone with two arms and half a brain, but the Belgian has seemingly battled his way back from the dark days and is currently enjoying his run in the sun.
With five clean sheets over their last nine matches, Mignolet is looking like a different ‘keeper altogether, though he’s kept the same positive attitude all season and even when the transfer speculation was at its most intense. “You know that there is always a spotlight on top of you,” said the Reds shot-stopper ahead of tomorrow’s trip to Selhurst Park. “You are always going to be under pressure but on the other hand it’s our job and you get used to it. So it’s not really pressure, it’s something more that you enjoy.”
He may have been dropped for a brief period of time in favour of understudy Brad Jones, but Liverpool boss Brendan Rodgers believes that under-fire ‘keeper Simon Mignolet has come out of his enforced absence looking better than ever.
Although rumours continue to swirl regarding the Belgian’s future at Anfield, the 26-year old has benefited greatly from the new-found defensive stability the Northern Irishman’s tactical tweaks have brought, keeping three clean sheets in his last five league outings. “Simon’s shown the benefits of having a bit of time out of the side,” said the Reds manager in the build-up to Saturday’s meeting with West Ham United on Merseyside. “He looks like a different goalkeeper. It’s difficult when you are playing all the time as you don’t get the chance to reflect on your performance.”
On the back of Liverpool’s improved defensive performances ‘keeper Simon Mignolet seems to have regained some of the confidence he was lacking at the beginning of the season, but that hasn’t quieted talk of the Reds ongoing search for a replacement.
While they’re unlikely to make a move before the transfer window closes at the end of the month, the Anfield outfit has been on the lookout for top-class competition for the Belgian. With the contract situation of understudy Brad Jones up the air, reported target and compatriot Mat Ryan of Club Brugge has weighed in on reports that Liverpool are considering taking him to the bright lights of the Premier League. “Obviously it’s very flattering to have your name involved with a big team like that” said the Australian international while on duty at the Asian Cup. “But my mind is on the job here.”
Liverpool boss Brendan Rodgers continues to insist that his side have what it takes to break into the top four, and if there’s any truth in that, the Reds next four matches will have to be the catalyst for an extended charge up the table.
They may have barley scrapped a win against relegation bound Burnley on Boxing Day, but at the end of the season the only thing that’s going to matter is that they got three points on the day — not how they did it or whether they deserved it. That being said, when Swansea City visit Anfield tomorrow, they’re going to have to be better than they were at Turf Moor — sentimentality aside, Gary Monk won’t be in a generous mood.
You eat too much, you drink too much and you don’t get enough sleep — everyone has a hangover in one form or another after the holidays and Liverpool showed they were no exception to the rule at Turf Moor.
A most uneventful first half bled in to a less than memorable second, bar a moment of brilliance from the visitors. Burnley looked more likely to find the breakthrough, but against the run of play, a clever flick from Philippe Coutinho saw the Brazilian release Raheem Sterling to run clear through on goal. It was nothing more than a shimmy and a shake before the 20-year old was rounding Clarets ‘keeper Tom Heaton to make the travelling Kop’s trip to Turf Moor worth it. While, for the most part anyway…