The goalkeeper believes the strike duo’s performances have been vital in all areas of the pitch for Brendan Rodgers’ side and has refused to talk up the club’s title chances
By Tom Maston
Given the headline-grabbing displays of Luis Suarez and Daniel Sturridge in recent weeks, Simon Mignolet’s swift integration at Anfield may have been overlooked by many.
The Belgium goalkeeper has conceded just eight goals in his side’s nine Premier League matches, keeping three clean sheets in the process, which has pushed Brendan Rodgers’ men into third spot behind Chelsea and Arsenal.
But the summer arrival from Sunderland believes the form of both Suarez and Sturridge, who have scored 14 goals between them this term, has been vital to Liverpool’s system at both ends of the pitch.
Speaking at the launch of Battlefield 4, Mignolet said: “They are a very good partnership. The goals they score and the quality they show week in, week out just shows how good they are.
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“Hopefully they can keep creating chances and score goals because then we know we just have to keep it tight and they will score the goals at the other end of the pitch.
“They’re doing really well at the moment and working really hard together. The amount of work they do to win the ball back can sometimes be more important as we play as a team.
“If they keep scoring like they are doing then it can only help us win games.”
Liverpool’s excellent start to the campaign has seen the club installed by some as contenders to secure their first league title since 1990.
But Mignolet, who was only two-years-old at the time of that success, has played down any early expectations.
“There’s no point talking about contending for the league at the moment,” he said.
“The season still has a long way to go and after the international break in November until February there are a lot of important games to be played.
“It’s more important just to concentrate on each game and see where the points we have picked up leave us.
“We’re pleased with how things are going. We’ve had a good start and the only thing we want to do is keep building on that.
“We need to keep doing the things we’ve been doing, starting with Saturday against Arsenal. We’ll try and do our best again. We are confident and motivated to keep our good form going.”
Saturday’s trip to the Emirates Stadium to take on Arsene Wenger’s league leaders represents arguably the toughest test Mignolet and his team-mates have faced this season.
The Gunners are unbeaten in eight league matches and have dazzled with a number of eye-catching displays but the Liverpool goalkeeper insists his side will only focus on showcasing their own style of play.
““Arsenal have had a good start,” Mignolet continued.
“The likes of [Aaron] Ramsey and [Mesut] Ozil are doing well for them so we know they have a lot of quality in their team. For us it’s more about making sure we do the things we want to do and get ourselves prepared for the game. We’re focussed on getting the result we want out of the game.
“It’s an opportunity to play the top team and get the right result out of the game.”
As well as proving to be a proficient shot-stopper, Mignolet has been actively encouraged to display his distribution strengths by Rodgers, a skill which the 25-year-old brings from his time with the Belgium national team.
“When you arrive at any new club you always try do the job that is asked of you,” Mignolet explained.
“The gaffer wants us to play in a certain style where we play from the back and the ‘keeper has to start that. Therefore in the first couple of weeks you have to get used to it.
“I had some experience of it playing for the Belgian national team, where we play a similar style of football. It’s something I enjoy and is working for me.”
As well as starring in what promises to be an exciting campaign for Liverpool, Mignolet is also set to form part of the Belgium squad who will be present at next summer’s World Cup in Brazil.
Marc Wilmots’ side have been tipped to reach the latter stages after qualifying as a seeded team, but as with his club’s prospects, Mignolet is refusing to get carried away with Belgium’s World Cup expectations.
He added: “It’s been 12 years since we qualified so we’re very pleased that we managed to get to Brazil. Now we want to prepare ourselves with the friendlies before the World Cup and then do well once it comes along.
“We avoid Germany, Spain Brazil and other big teams, but on the other hand you just have to look at the teams in the play-offs and see that every team in the World Cup are going to be a good side. We’ll see after the draw which teams we’ll come up against.”
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