Australian goalkeeper Brad Jones has not had it easy since he moved to Liverpool in 2010 for a fee of £2.3m. He has only made nine appearances for the club in just over two seasons, he made his debut in a disastrous cup defeat to League Two Northampton Town, and off the pitch he suffered the tragedy of losing his son Luka to leukemia last year.
Yet as Pepe Reina picked up an injury during the last round of international fixtures, Jones has been thrust into the spotlight at Anfield, and to be fair to the former Middlesbrough man he hasn’t disappointed as he has picked up two clean sheets out of two. But does he deserve to displace his Spanish colleague, and actually be Liverpool’s number one, rather than the substitute goalie who happens to wear that particular numbered shirt?
Jones actually has a very impressive record from his nine matches; a penalty shoot out loss aside he was won two and drawn seven of the games he has featured in, with the seven wins coming in a row in his most recent appearances.
Not only that, but his save percentage fares favourably when compared to Pepe Reina’s recent form. I wasn’t able to access the stats for the Europa League qualifier with Gomel, but here are the figures (from ESPN) for Jones’ other eight appearances for the Reds:
Although the quality of opposition hasn’t been particularly high, and obviously it’s a small sample, you can’t ask much more from your keeper than an 81% save percentage (no keeper matched that in the league last season, for instance, and Reina hasn’t averaged that for a campaign since 2007/08) and not least as Jones has been in and out of the side and played with a variety of back four combinations.
Whilst Jones might not be Liverpool’s best keeper, and it’s too soon to hand him the number one spot on a permanent basis, he couldn’t have done much more with the opportunities he has had. I would have no concerns if he was between the sticks for this weekend’s Merseyside derby, and if he keeps up his form then Reina may yet have to face a prolonged spell on the sidelines.
Update: Following Liverpool’s 2-2 draw at Goodison Park today, Jones is still unbeaten for Liverpool, and now has a healthy 78% save percentage. With a League Cup match up next, he could easily retain his place. How’s the bench treating you, Pepe?