Since his arrival at Anfield in the summer of 2005, Pepe Reina has established himself as a regular fixture in goal for Liverpool. The Spaniard was lauded as “the best goalkeeper in Spain” by then Kop-boss Rafa Benitez, and after succeeding Jerzy Dudek as the club's number one, he began notching up club records for goalkeepers.
In recent months, though, the Spain international has committed a string of errors which have asked questions about his position. His recent spell on the sidelines through injury has seen deputy 'keeper Brad Jones step up to the plate and stake his claim for the number one jersey.
As Reina gets ever closer to returning to first-team action, the question must be asked as to whether Liverpool are better served with Jones in between the sticks. Comparing their statistics so far this season, Jones makes a very good case to remain in place.
Despite Jones having played three fewer games in the Premier League this season, the Australian has acquitted himself well. His goals-to-games ratio has seen him concede every 90 minutes, compared to Reina, whose 12 goals conceded equates to a rate of a goal every 53 minutes.
Admittedly Reina has been hampered at times by a defence which are guilty of committing costly errors, but that only tells half of the story. Just one clean sheet all season for a goalkeeper of his supposed calibre is a poor return, and while his run in goal has coincided with fixtures against Man City, Man United and Arsenal, Jones has faced equally tricky games, including Everton and Chelsea away.
Jones' saves-per-game ratio (2.3) and saves-to-shots ratio (69%) both dwarf Reina's statistics, and dispel any suggestions that he is nothing more than an adequate back-up goalkeeper. At 30-years-old Jones should be considered a realistic rival to Reina and given the latter's inconsistency, Brendan Rodgers should stick with the Australian in goal.
Check out the Opta statistics comparing the two below...
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