There was a huge shock in store for Liverpool with their line-up on Sunday afternoon as Jurgen Klopp opted to drop first choice goalkeeper Simon Mignolet, instead selecting Loris Karius in goal for the crucial fixture against Arsenal at Anfield, with Danny Ward taking up a place on the bench.
Questioned pre-match to explain his unexpected decision, Klopp explained his decision as Metro quote him as saying:
“Simon is rested, that is all. He won the race and was really strong for us but we need the other two boys [Karius and Danny Ward] also… He is in the stadium, we had no argument and I told him a rest makes sense. He didn’t want to have to rest. We spoke about it yesterday. It’s just that I want him to have a rest.”
So it was Karius who faced up against the likes of Alexis Sanchez, on his first start of the season. However, in truth, the German was barely tested. The Gunners failed to manage a single shot at the goalkeeper and he had a fairly quiet day in the net at Anfield.
However, when he was called into action, it was with the ball at his feet. Arsenal were clearly looking to press him quickly and on every occasion, and it worked. On two separate occasions, Danny Welbeck got in the way of a Karius’ attempted pass and nipped the ball away from the goalkeeper. Fortunately for Karius, he couldn’t do enough to make anything of it.
He was also occasionally called upon to come out and collect a cross, but did little to calm the nerves then either. Rather than catching, he often looked to flap and punch the ball away, far from convincingly.
If this was Karius’ big opportunity, it would be hard to argue that he took it. Much like many of his attempted catches, he merely fumbled it and collapsed onto the floor gratefully clutching the opportunity and feeling relieved that he hadn’t cost his side. Simon Mignolet has no need to be concerned.