Mignolet v Karius: Who Liverpool would start in goal if Jurgen Klopp let the numbers decide

Mignolet v Karius: Who Liverpool would start in goal if Jurgen Klopp let the numbers decide

Liverpool goalkeeper Loris Karius will be handed his first competitive start for the club in the EFL Cup against Derby County tonight, but who should be No.1 on a permanent basis?

The 23-year-old joined the Reds in the summer from Mainz and was a regular starter during pre-season whilst Simon Mignolet enjoyed some post-Euro 2016 rest.

Karius, a Germany Under-21 international, put in a series of good performances, but was dealt a big blow when he suffered a broken hand that required surgery and sidelined him for two months.

Fortunately for Jurgen Klopp, Mignolet returned from his holidays at just the right time and the 28-year–old has started every game so far this season.

However, with Karius back fit and good to go against Derby, Mignolet may now start to feel the pressure with Liverpool fans urging Klopp to go with the former as his regular No.1 from onwards.

Ahead of his big moment at the iPro later on Tuesday, the stats from last season certainly show Karius has what it takes to succeed at the highest level and he could potentially use tonight as a stepping stone to claiming that No.1 spot permanently.

Distribution

Both goalkeepers are adept with regards to their distribution, with Mignolet slightly shading this criteria – he had a distribution success rate of 66% this season, compared to Karius’ return of 60%.

Karius does, though, tend to kick the ball slightly further – he has an average distribution length of 40m, with Mignolet’s average distribution length being 38m. Karius’ throws also have a longer reach (averaging 26m compared to Mignolet’s 23.24m). Karius tends to play a greater proportion of long balls (64%) compared to Mignolet’s (56%).

Mignolet’s distribution from goal kicks in particular is better than Karius’. The latter had 145 unsuccessful goal kicks this campaign, while Mignolet only faltered on 92 occasions.

It should be noted, however, that Karius distributed the ball a significantly higher amount of times than Mignolet did – he had 170 successful throws, for example, while Mignolet had 130.

Shot-stopping

Here, Karius has fared rather better than Mignolet this campaign. The former Mainz goalkeeper has made an impressive 2.53 saves per game this season, with a return of 2.10 saves per goal conceded.

Mignolet, meanwhile, has made just 1.53 saves per game, while making 1.27 saves per goal conceded. He did, however, keep 11 clean sheets in comparison to Karius’ nine.

With regards to penalties, Karius saved two of the four spot-kicks he faced this campaign, with Mignolet stopping one of the three penalties he was tasked with saving.

Overall, Karius was kept far busier than Mignolet, making 86 saves compared to the Liverpool goalkeeper’s 52.

Karius is much more effective at dealing with corners – with just 7.1% of the goals he conceded this season coming from such situations. Meanwhile, 19% of the goals that Mignolet let in came from corners.

Mignolet also conceded a goal direct from a free-kick in addition to a strike from outside the box, which wasn’t the case with Karius. Both players let in the same amount of goals: 42.

Commanding the area

Mignolet has often been accused of lacking conviction with regards to his attempted punches, and the statistics certainly support this. The Belgian has been successful with just 38% of his attempted punches in the league this season. Karius, meanwhile, has a slightly better success rate of 44%.

Where Karius really comes into his own is with regards to average claim success – he has a return of 96%. Mignolet pales in comparison having been successful with only 82% of his attempted claims.

Mignolet also struggles in relation to organising his defence. Liverpool made 32 defensive errors this season, the most in the Premier League, while Mainz had the joint-most defensive mistakes in the Bundesliga, but, at 19, this figure was not as damning.

Verdict

Overall, despite Mignolet being the more experienced goalkeeper, Karius already seems a more viable option for Liverpool. The difference in standard between the Premier League and the Bundesliga must of course be taken into account, but Karius is more reliable than Mignolet with regards to catching the ball and making timely stops.

Karius is capable of commanding his area far better and, perhaps crucially, is less vulnerable at set-piece situations.

Mignolet is slightly superior with regards to his distribution, but there is time for Karius to work on that aspect of his game and it might not be too long until Klopp considers naming the new arrival as his first-choice goalkeeper.