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Mignolet backs Liverpool to succeed in title chase after stumbling in 2013-14

23:46 GMT 27/01/2019
Simon Mignolet Liverpool
The Reds fell just short five years ago, but their back-up goalkeeper believes they can go one better this time around

Liverpool goalkeeper Simon Mignolet believes his side have what it takes to lift the Premier League title after coming agonisingly close to glory five years ago.

Jurgen Klopp’s side are in contention for their first Premier League title since the 1989-90 campaign with the Reds currently topping the table, four points ahead of second-place Manchester City.

It’s the closest Liverpool have come to a championship since the 2013-14 campaign, when the Reds won 11 straight games down the stretch, only to fall short with a loss to Chelsea and a draw at Crystal Palace in two of the season’s final three games.

Mignolet, Daniel Sturridge and Jordan Henderson are the only three players from that side that still remain with Liverpool, and the Belgian has backed the current iteration of the Reds to do what the team of five years ago could not.

Mignolet pointed to Liverpool’s more balanced attack as a principle reason they can lift the league trophy come May.

“It's only Hendo, Studge and myself still here from the last time we really fought for the title,” the Belgian told the Liverpool Echo.

“Back then a lot of it was about Luis Suarez and Studge, whereas now the goals are shared about more. We had a really good team in 2013-14 but the moment we got one or two injuries it became difficult.

“We've got a broad squad now which means we can cope with injuries. That's probably the biggest difference with last time.

“The general quality of this squad is the best I've ever known. When we play 11 v 11 in training it's like being involved in a top match in the Premier League.

“It's not 11 first-teamers against 11 reserves, it's two Premier League sides facing each other in training. It's high quality.”

Another key difference between this year’s side and the team from five years ago can be seen in the back line.

Liverpool conceded 50 goals in 2013-14, the most of any of the top five finishers that season. In contrast, the Reds have the league’s best defence this season, giving up just 13 goals in 23 games.

Mignolet pointed to one key addition the club made last season as a big reason behind his side's defensive improvement. 

“I think a big part of that [improvement] is Virgil van Dijk,” Mignolet said. “Ever since he's come in he's made a huge difference.

“It's not only his playing ability but the character and the leadership he sends out from the back. It's especially important when you play teams like Brighton and Crystal Palace recently.

“It's the pressure he eases with his clearing headers. He always makes it look so easy. Something that's very difficult for anyone else, just looks like a walk in the park for Virgil. He's made us a lot more solid than before.”