Stats: Who has been the better Liverpool goalkeeper under Brendan Rodgers?

Pepe Reina

Brendan Rodgers opted to buy one and loan at the other. They've both played a similar amount of games under the Liverpool boss, so who has performed better?

Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers has said that Simon Mignolet will be the number one goalkeeper at Anfield for years to come.

A lot of eyebrows were raised at the start of the season when Brendan Rodgers opted to send long-term number one goalkeeper Pepe Reina on loan to Napoli for this season, and put his faith in the Belgian keeper he signed from Sunderland for £9m.

The Reds’ boss was quoted in the Liverpool Echo today, saying: “I think he’s an outstanding goalkeeper who is only going to get better and better.

“He has come into a huge club and replaced a legendary figure at the club in Pepe Reina.

“But over the course of the season he has made a big contribution. I don’t forget the significance of some of the saves he has made.”

There have been several criticisms of Mignolet this season as fans, commentators and ex-pros have said he is a potential weak link in the Liverpool team. 

  TeamPosGoals Conceded / appsAppsMins
José Reina Liverpool GK 1.10 31 2,790
  TeamPosClean SheetAppsMins
José Reina Liverpool GK 14 31 2,790
  TeamPosGoals Conceded / appsAppsMins
Simon Mignolet Liverpool GK 1.28 36 3,240
  TeamPosClean SheetAppsMins
Simon Mignolet Liverpool GK 10 36 3,240

The headline figures in terms of their clean sheets and goals conceded per appearance are in all favour of the Spaniard, having made four more clean sheets whilst playing less games, and conceding less goals. However, there is the factor that there have been significant changes to the Liverpool defence this season. Last season there was more of a settled back line whilst during this campaign the Reds have had more options, a few more injuries, and therefore a more unsettled back line, so there may be more to those figures than meets the eye.

But one of the main criticisms of Mignolet compared to Reina is his unwillingness to come for crosses.

  TeamPosCross Not ClaimedAppsMins
José Reina Liverpool GK 10 31 2,790
  TeamPosCross Not ClaimedAppsMins
Simon Mignolet Liverpool GK 6 36 3,240

Mignolet has had 30 high claims this season, whilst Reina, having made fewer appearances made 31 high claims. Some might say the ball has been punched away, Mignolet leads on that statistic as well (26-17). Both goalkeepers have had difficulty when coming for crosses judging by the statstics, with Reina failing to claim crosses on more occasions than Mignolet. Maybe that is a case that Reina is prepared to risk leaving his six yard box more often than his successor, and the Belgian may have lost out on fewer occasions because he may have contested fewer balls into the box.

  TeamPosSaves / appsAppsMins
José Reina Liverpool GK 2.35 31 2,790
  TeamPosSaves / appsAppsMins
Simon Mignolet Liverpool GK 2.83 36 3,240

The one area where people suggest that Mignolet may have the edge over Reina is when it comes to his shot stopping, and the statistics indicate that he has saved more shots during this campaign than the Spaniard did in the last. The Belgian has made a few key saves this season, including on the opening day against Stoke City from Jonathan Walters from the penalty spot, and at 1-0 up against Southampton to deny Jay Rodriguez an equaliser. 

Ever since Pepe Reina arrived in English football, it was recognised on several occasions that he was a 'sweeper keeper' and willing to play like an outfield player at the back, so much show that during one pre-season friendly under Rafa Benitez's reign he was given a run-out in central midfield.

  TeamPosAccurate Pass / appsAppsMins
José Reina Liverpool GK 15.81 31 2,790
  TeamPosAccurate Pass / appsAppsMins
Simon Mignolet Liverpool GK 12.81 36 3,240

It is probably best to assess the accurate passing of the two goalkeepers given how much they have seen of the ball under Brendan Rodgers as they are involved in the action on a pretty large scale as they look to play out from the back more often than not. It is clear by the statistics that Reina is the more comfortable of the two playing this role as he, on average, three more accurate passes per game. 

Though it could be down to Mignolet settling into a new side, with the most of the players in front of him already used to that style of play, the former Sunderland man was bound to need a little time of trying to adapt to things, like any outfield player.

  TeamPosError Lead To GoalAppsMins
José Reina Liverpool GK 4 31 2,790
  TeamPosError Lead To GoalAppsMins
Simon Mignolet Liverpool GK 5 36 3,240

And finally we come on to the thing that is highlighted all the more when it comes to goalkeepers and that is the errors they make, because in most cases they lead to goals. Both keeprs have made a similar amount of errors, Mignolet's fifth came on his 35th appearance of the campaign so they have probably been as costly as each other. But given the season that Liverpool are currently having, being in the thick of the title race compared to last season where they were also rans and finished in seventh, Mignolet's are bound to be regarded as more costly.

Overall, the statistics show that even with one season each they have different qualities and capable in several departments but also have their flaws. Reina has had several years to prove himself as a Liverpool goalkeeper, Mignolet has had less than a year. Who knows? Maybe there will be significant improvement in the coming years and perceptions may change.

Register for LIVERPOOL team updates

Register for HITC Sport - Daily Dispatch