3 Aug 2016

Liverpool Fail: Why Mignolet is not to blame for Roma goal farce. £66m-trio and Academy-duo at fault?

After another alleged goal-producing mistake, Simon Mignolet is once again being raked over the coals by Liverpool fans, but is it fair to blame the Belgian for Liverpool's 2-1 pre-season defeat to Roma?

Over the last two years, I've repeatedly called for Mignolet to be replaced, but in this case, it's grossly unfair to blame him for Roma's second goal on Monday.

Here is how the goal happened:

* Roma play the ball into midfield from the right flank. Absolutely no pressure on the ball, which allows Roma to play a long crossfield pass out to the left-flank.

* Coutinho fails to get tight on his man, which creates space for the cross. Coutinho also fails to block the cross.

* At this point, both Moreno and Wijnaldum aren't marking anyone; they're ball-watching. Additionally, as Dzeko runs into the box, Henderson and Wijnaldum just let him go, and fail to show any defensive leadership (i.e. by ordering one of the defenders to watch Dzeko's run).

* As the cross comes in, Kevin Stewart mistimes his jump and totally misses the header. The ball drops straight to Dzeko, who gets in a header.

* Wisdom is nowhere near Dzeko, who is Roma's leading aerial threat in the box (and Wisdom's responsibility).

* Mignolet makes a fantastic reaction save. This is the *only* positive action in this entire sequence of play.

* The ball rebounds away from Wisdom, who backs into Dzeko instead of attacking the ball and attempting a block/clearance.

* Meanwhile, Alexander-Arnold (in the right-back position) is ball watching for a full ten seconds. He also allows the guy he's supposed to be marking creep away behind him.

* After making the save, Mignolet is off-balance, and he's entitled to expect at least *one* of his defenders to attack the ball. Instead, Wisdom, and Alexander-Arnold fail to act; Moreno hasn't moved; Stewart is ball-watching, and Wijnaldum is nowhere to be seen.

* Bottom line: At the time of the goal, Liverpool had SIX outfield players in the box (Henderson, Wijnaldum, Moreno, Wisdom, Alexander-Arnold, and Stewart), to Roma's THREE, yet Roma still scored.

With all this in mind, I fail to see how Mignolet is at fault for the goal. The key moment in this debacle is Dzeko being allowed to ghost into the box unmarked, but even before that point, there were at least FIVE opportunities for Liverpool to clear the ball.

Some may argue that Mignolet should've got to the rebound (after the save), but he clearly expected Wisdom to make the clearance, and he is surely entitled to expect some help from his centre-backs (especially after making such a great save)

Mignolet has made many mistakes in the past, but on this occasion, a comedy of defensive errors led to the goal. The team spectacularly failed in its defensive duty here, not the individual.

* Coutinho: £41m-rated. Wijnaldum: cost £25m. Moreno: Cost £12m.


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