Friday, August 12, 2022

Liverpool’s Goalkeeping Dilemma: Should Klopp Stick With Karius?

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Arka Tarun Mukherjee
Arsenal fan and football expert, Arka Tarun Mukherjee actually used to play cricket at semi pro level. An ardent student of football tactics, ATM is very passionate about the tactical aspects of the game and has a dream of being a football manager in the future.

Jürgen Klopp’s Liverpool are going great guns in the Premier League. The attacking players are on top of their game, scoring goals with regularity and the midfield is doing their job very well as well after a momentary lapse against Burnley. The only concerns that do still remain are with the defence and one position, in particular, has been a bit of a bother for some time now at Anfield and that is the position of the goalkeeper.

Since his transfer to Liverpool from Sunderland, Simon Mignolet has failed to provide the stability the Merseyside club wanted in goal. The Belgian has been the first choice keeper for the Reds since 2013 but the keeper failed to develop and continued to make mistakes at the back costing his team goals during the games in each of the seasons which almost forced his club to look for replacements in the transfer market.

This summer Klopp brought in the 23-year old Loris Karius from German club Mainz 05. Karius was the first choice keeper for his club since 2013 and from his exploits in Bundesliga, many presumed him to be the first choice. An unfortunate injury in pre-season meant that Mignolet was reinstated as the number one, however.

It was thought that the presence of another keeper would spur the Belgian into improving his performances. Although the Reds conceded goals, Mignolet was never really at fault and when Karius was fit, it was perhaps a bit harsh on the Belgian who was demoted again.

DERBY, ENGLAND - SEPTEMBER 20: Loris Karius of Liverpool in action during the EFL Cup Third Round match between Derby County and Liverpool at iPro Stadium on September 20, 2016 in Derby, England. (Photo by Richard Heathcote/Getty Images)

5 games later, Karius stands having conceded 5 goals with a single clean sheet but has not looked convincing at all. Still only 23, it will be very unfair to give a verdict on the German keeper just after 5 games, but with the uncompromising environment and high expectations of the modern top flight football time is not afforded to even the young players and when you are on the pitch you have to perform or else you affect your team.

Karius thus won’t have a lot of time and over a sample of 5 games each it now appears that Mignolet has fared a little better than his 23-year old rival and that is a cause of concern for the manager.

In football, things can change very quickly and nobody can say for sure that if given another chance Mignolet won’t be putting in some world class performances or Karius will be performing exceptionally well surprising everybody in the coming weeks.

Karius will and should be given more time to prove himself but same cannot be said for the 28-year-old Mignolet who has appeared 113 times for Liverpool in the Premier League.

If Klopp decides to give the Belgian another chance then it certainly would be his last and he needs to perform or perish, while for Karius, he needs to keep his focus and composure for he will get more opportunities and he needs to just try keeping it as simple as possible emphasising on doing the basics right.

Karius, being the younger of the two, still needs a lot to learn and is undergoing special training to deal with the physicality. David De Gea is now one of the best after a weak start at Manchester United, so with proper guidance, Karius could soon silent his detractors as well. Besides, he’s German!

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