Brendan Rodgers to keep faith with Simon Mignolet

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Brendan Rodgers has insisted that Simon Mignolet will start against Stoke City on Saturday, despite his costly error against Ludogorets Razgrad in the Champions League.

The shot-stopper was at fault for the Bulgarian champions' first goal in Liverpool's 2-2 draw on Wednesday evening, when he spilled Marcelinho's effort in the third minute, giving Dani Abalo and easy tap-in.

The error brought speculation that the Belgian would lose his place for the game against the Potters, however, Rodgers is willing to keep faith with Mignolet rather than call second-choice goalkeeper, Brad Jones, into the Reds' line-up.

“Simon is fine. I had a good chat with him today. The club paid a lot of money for Simon to come in and he has saved us in a number of games during my time here," the Northern Irishman told the Liverpool Echo. “His form has been like the team. We all need to be better collectively.

“He is coping well. It’s never easy, however it comes, you won’t like criticism, but it’s part of the game.

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“You just have to focus on being the best you can be in the next game and the next training session.

“When you’re at a club like Liverpool, the focus on you is magnified because we are one of the leading clubs in the world. You have to accept it as part of the job.

“He’s certainly strong enough to deal with it. You have to embrace it if you are going to be at this level of football. You have to be able to cope with the spotlight whether it’s good or bad.

“This is a great club to play and work for. When things don’t go your way, you have to fight even harder and stronger to come back.

“When you’re playing for a leading team in Europe everyone is watching every move you make.

“For Simon, the spotlight is really on him but he’s a strong enough character to come through it.

“He’s a good guy working hard at every aspect of his game. Confidence will grow throughout the team as we become better.”

Sink or swim

Mignolet's costly error against Ludogorets added to his already under-pressure place in the Liverpool net.

The shot-stopper has failed to make an impression since in £9 million move from Sunderland in 2013, and made far too many costly mistakes that has dropped Liverpool points.

The Christmas period of last season saw the 26-year-old throw two points, and effectively, the Premier League title away.

On Boxing Day, Mignolet's poor positioning allowed Alvaro Negredo to lob the 'keeper and give Manchester City a 2-1 victory at the Etihad Stadium and days later, he fluffed Samuel Eto'o tame effort and gave Jose Mourinho's men a 2-1 win in West London.

If Liverpool had have come away with a point on Boxing Day, it would have won them the league; as City finished two points ahead of the Reds at the end of the season, minus two points from their tally and add one to Rodgers' side and the Premier League trophy would have went to Merseyside for the first time in history.

This season, Mignolet has been unconvincing in the net and failed to control his defence. Too often, there has been confusion between him and the Reds defence and looks nervy when coming to collect the ball from a cross.

There was speculation that Victor Valdes was to sign at Anfield earlier in the year, and there's no doubt Rodgers will be looking for another shot-stopper to give Mignolet competition come the January transfer market.

Bad luck

Credit to Mignolet, he hasn't had the strongest defence in-front of him since arriving on Merseyside.

Last season, Liverpool conceded 50 goals in the top flight, and despite some of those being his fault, he was left exposed on just as many.

The Liverpool defence chopped and changed and no real partnerships could be bound, causing confusion at the back.

He is a wonderful shot-stopper, and has kept his side in plenty of games due to his athleticism in the net when the back-four have been poor.

His error on Wednesday was disappointing, however, the shot took a difficult bounce and Kolo Toure should have cleared the ball much better prior to the strike. 

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Simon Mignolet
Premier League

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