The greatest faults in Liverpool’s defence came rushing back to the fore in Friday night’s madcap 3-3 draw against Arsenal at the Emirates.
Having gone 1-0 up but wasted a number of chances to potentially put the game beyond the Gunners in the first half, when Jurgen Klopp’s side did score a second goal it was followed immediately by a crazy five-minute spell in which they somehow went from 2-0 ahead to 3-2 down.
Defensive errors were to blame once again as Alexis Sanchez, Granit Xhaka and Mesut Ozil struck to put Arsenal ahead – and although Roberto Firmino restored parity to give each side a share of the points, it was a nightmare at the back for both sides.
In particular, focus has been placed on Liverpool goalkeeper Simon Mignolet. The Belgian stopper has had his critics almost from the minute he arrived at Anfield, and while his form has generally been better over the past year or so, he is still prone to the odd major error.
Such an occurrence happened on Friday, with Xhaka’s long-range effort somehow finding the net with a shot that Mignolet really should have kept out. In all, Arsenal had just four shots on target, and yet three of them found the back of the net.
The most alarming thing for Mignolet, Liverpool and Jurgen Klopp, however, is that the above stat is not a freak occurrence.
Mignolet has faced 52 shots on target over the course of the season (only Thibaut Courtois and Ederson have had less shots on targets against them in terms of goalkeepers that have played 15 games or more this season). Of those 52, he has saved 29 and conceded 23 – a save per shot ratio of 0.56, and a goal conceded per shot faced ratio of around 0.44.
In all, the 29-year-old has a save-per-goal ratio of less than 1.1. To put that into context, Ederson, who has a similar amount of saves as Mignolet, has done so with a save-per-goal ratio of 2.5. Courtois’ ratio is also 2.5, David De Gea’s is 5.08, Petr Cech’s is 1.7 and Hugo Lloris has a ratio of 1.78 saves per goal conceded.
In fact, Mignolet has the lowest save-per-goal conceded ratio of any goalkeeper playing regularly in the Premier League.
What this suggests is that Liverpool don’t allow many shots against them, the ones that do get through are as likely to result in goals as be kept out. It suggests that in Mignolet, Klopp has placed in trust in a goalkeeper that, for every shot he faces, he is just as likely to concede a goal as he is to save one.
Understudy Loris Karius had a tough bedding-in period last season but, having kept two clean sheets in as many Premier League appearances this season (and three more in the Champions League) it may be time to fast-track his reascension to the starting lineup.
Failing that, Klopp should dip into the transfer market once again to finally solve a problem that has cost Liverpool so many points this season.
In the final Mixer Football Podcast of 2017, we select our favourite goals, matches and performances of the year, as well as our usual roundup of the latest League of Ireland news.