The unique caprice of goalkeeping was on show at Anfield yesterday afternoon. If any position was ever suited to the hyperbolic amplification of social media, that is it. Being a 'keeper in the Premier League - particularly during the prime time slots on Sky - is the living of life beneath a microscope, with the caustic words of everybody watching turned up to eleven
At Anfield, Loris Karius may have done better on the first goal and should have done better on the second, while Darren Randolph gifted Liverpool an equaliser before denying Jordan Henderson with one of the saves of the season. It wasn't Tom-Heaton-against-Man-United-good, but it wasn't far off. It's a tough old life, goalkeeping, and despite being offered his shot at redemption, Randolph was utterly deflated on Sky Sports afterward.
The mixed performance of both goalkeepers gave the assembled press an easy theme around which they could unspool their match reports, and while Karius was widely panned, Randolph did have his redemptive save accentuated.
The cruel nature of goalkeeping was the subject of the opening lines of Dominic King's report in the Daily Mail:
Anfield's giant scoreboard clock had just flicked to 6.21pm when Loris Karius and Darren Randolph met by the centre circle and shared a hug.
Moments before this interaction, Karius had been on his haunches in front of The Kop, looking solemnly at the ground. At the same time, up the other end of the field, Randolph had pulled his fluorescent orange jersey over his head, in an attempt to hide his desolation.
It had been one of those afternoons, a day when the men between the posts knew their flaps and fumbles would command the headlines. Their embrace, then, was born of empathy. Who would be a goalkeeper? Even these two men left the pitch asking that question.
Ray Clemence and Bruce Grobbelaar were sat together at Anfield and it was no stretch to re-imagine the former Liverpool goalkeepers as those old curmudgeons from the Muppet Show, Waldorf and Statler, ripping into the failings of today’s generation. Loris Karius’s teething troubles continued while Darren Randolph reacted to the final whistle by burying his head in a towel. The West Ham United keeper’s despair was understandable but, for his manager, humiliation has given way to hope....
...Randolph atoned for his error with a stunning save to prevent Henderson finding the top corner from fully 30 yards. “That was a crucial moment for us,” Bilic said.
Chris Bascombe in the Telegraph also referenced the onlooking Ray Clemence, but called Randolph's save "world class":
Slaven Bilic could also argue his side would have won but for a mistake from his No 1, although Darren Randolph would make amends with a world-class save to deny Jordan Henderson later in the game.
But as former Anfield great Ray Clemence watched on, you could only imagine him silently weeping at the drop in goalkeeper standards.
The closest they [Liverpool] came to a winning goal was on 70 minutes, when Henderson curled an exquisite 25-yard shot that produced a wonderful save from Randolph, high up to his left-hand side. For perhaps the first time all afternoon, Ray Clemence and Bruce Grobbelaar, sitting together in the directors’ box, had seen some goalkeeping worth their applause.
When the final whistle came, though, Randolph pulled up his shirt in shame to cover his face, such was his disappointment at his contribution. His mistake was a bad one, but on this evidence it ought not be too harmful to West Ham.
And finally, Simon Hughes was slightly less forgiving in the Independent:
The narrative around Karius’s involvement will probably hide just how awful Randolph’s mistake was, allowing Liverpool to level. Sadio Mané’s cross was not of the testing variety and yet but Randolph dropped it. Fortunately for Liverpool, Divock Origi was standing right there.
Randolph, however, had still had the necessary level of confidence to redeem himself. Liverpool were much more convincing in the second half than they were in the first. Despite their domination, the closest they came to scoring again was through a 30-yarder unleashed by Jordan Henderson. Somehow, Randolph’s reflexes stopped it from flying in.