This weekend capped off what has been a miserable time of late for Aston Villa goalkeeper Shay Given. After a disappointing season last year and a poor Euro 2012 with Republic of Ireland he had started this campaign unfortunately in a similar vein. It culminated in the former Newcastle stopper being dropped for the game at his old club with Brad Guzan deputising instead. A brilliant comeback story indeed from the American who originally left the club this summer on a free transfer but roared back into action with a Man of the Match display, eventually only beaten by a stunning strike from Hatem Ben Arfa.
As Guzan appears to have put one hand inside the gloves of the number 1 position at Villa Park, Given is not alone in having a poor start to the season. Sir Alex Ferguson also got tough with David de Gea after an error against Fulham. Pepe Reina at Liverpool has not had the best start to a campaign either.
He didn’t really have a great season last year and despite what has obviously been a brilliant Anfield career to date he needs to improve his form sharply in order to keep his place in between the sticks. His mistake against Arsenal was letting Santi Cazorla’s powerful drive escape his hands and you feel an on form Pepe would have done better to stop Podolski’s opener which was only a thimbles width away from a left leg that stayed rigid and planted.
Should Rodgers take a leaf out of Lamberts book and drop Pepe Reina?
Lambert obviously saw in Guzan the potential to come in and do an exceptional job and the same would have to be apparent for Brendan Rodgers to even consider such a drastic change to his lineup. In reserve Liverpool have the Australian Brad Jones as backup; whilst Brazilian Doni is apparently still with the squad. Both are good shot-stoppers but not exactly exuding the confidence of keepers in control that Rodgers would require from someone about to take over from Reina.
The other option is Hungarian youngster Peter Gulacsi who had a decent spell on loan at Hull City last season. He received his first national team call-up last month and Liverpool curiously denied their apparent 4th choice keeper the chance to go on loan to Spanish side Xerez this season. If the decision is made to drop Pepe Reina should Rodgers do what Wenger did in desperation and hand the role to a youngster, just 22, in order for them to cement the position. It worked with Wojciech Szscesny so has Reina’s reign come to an end?
Is this just a blip? Or should Rodgers genuinely start considering dropping the Spaniard?