The Hard Tackle takes a look at some of the best performing goalkeepers from the recently concluded edition of the Premier League.
They are the unheralded heroes of their teams, going about their jobs silently while being crucial to their team’s fortunes the moment the ball veers around their box. Yet, they can also become the pantomime villains for the most minor of faults.
Nevertheless, it is undeniable that a goalkeeper remains a major player with huge responsibilities resting on his shoulder. The Hard Tackle now attempts to take a look at the five most noteworthy contributors between the posts in the Premier League this past season, as part of our End of the Season Awards.
Alisson Becker [Liverpool]
The goalkeeping slot had been a true Achilles Heel for Liverpool in their pursuit of becoming genuine title contenders. But, not anymore, with Alisson Becker playing a huge role in changing the Reds’ fortunes around, and dramatically so.
On a personal level, the Brazilian goalkeeper could not have asked for a better debut season in the Premier League, justifying Liverpool’s decision to break the world record fee for a goalkeeper at the time.
His shot-stopping abilities are a marvel in themselves, with Alisson showing remarkable reading of the game to position himself brilliantly on most occasions. The 26-year-old also saved a remarkable 81.9 percent of the shots he faced, letting in a mere 22 goals in the season.
In addition to his shot-stopping prowess, the Liverpool no. 1 has also shown tremendous astuteness with the ball at his feet. And, having kept 21 clean sheets in the season gone by, he even went on to win the Golden Glove in his maiden Premier League campaign. Will he also triumph in our season-ending awards among our voters?
Ederson Moraes [Manchester City]
From one Brazilian to another, for the longest time this season, the contest remained fixated between two custodians who also fight for the no. 1 spot for their national side. Ederson though, finished just behind his compatriot in the race to win the Golden Glove, narrowly missing out for the second successive season.
But, that does not mean he cannot be bestowed with the honour of being the best goalkeeper in the Premier League this season. Not tested frequently for his shot-stopping abilities, Ederson makes more of an impact by negating the danger with his sweeping abilities.
The 25-year-old’s numbers on the ball are truly staggering. Ederson made 24.2 passes per game on average this season at a rate of 88.3 percent. The Manchester City no. 1 also racked up an assist, a rare feat for goalkeepers, when he laid on the ball for Sergio Aguero against Huddersfield Town.
At 78.3 percent shots saved, he was among the best stoppers in the league while also keeping 20 clean sheets, just falling short of Alisson’s figures. Every bit a crucial figure to Manchester City’s fortunes, even if he is not called into action regularly. And, the best is yet to come from Ederson.
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Lukasz Fabianski [West Ham United]
From a goalkeeper who had the least work to do this past season to one of the busiest. Ever since he moved away from Arsenal, Lukasz Fabianski has enjoyed a stunning rise in stature, which only continued in his first campaign with West Ham United.
Protecting the goal for a side that boasts one of the most porous of defensive units can be a tricky task, but one that the Pole looked up to for the most part in 2018-19. Fabianski faced the most shots in the Premier League this season (529, on and off target).
But, the fact that he also made the most numbers of saves (148) meant West Ham were closer to the European places by the end of the season than the relegation zone. In all, Fabianski saved nearly 73 percent of the shots on target, which in itself is quite remarkable, considering the sheer volume of shots that come his way.
Given an infamous moniker of “FlappyHandski” a few years ago, the 34-year-old has hit back at his trolls and naysayers in some fashion. And, very few can deny that he truly is one of the very best in his trade in the Premier League, having consistently proven himself since his days at Swansea City. But, can he shock the big Brazilians to take the Goalkeepers’ award?
Neil Etheridge [Cardiff City]
Another goalkeeper who was not exactly in the top echelons as far as clean sheets were concerned. But, Neil Etheridge was still perhaps, one of the finds of the season following a campaign that saw him put up a valiant fight for Cardiff City, who were ultimately relegated from the top division.
Etheridge though, is one of the few players who can keep his head held high following a season that saw him make a staggering 141 saves. Three of these were from a penalty (the joint-most in the Premier League this season, alongside Jordan Pickford).
And, for a side that conceded plenty of shots through most of their games, the fact that Etheridge ended up saving 67 percent of the shots on target is fantastic to say the least.
In the end, Cardiff may have gone right back down to the Championship. But, Etheridge played a major role in ensuring that the Bluebirds’ fate was not sealed until the penultimate gameweek. One of the best goalkeepers of the season and who knows, the 29-year-old might just shock the big hitters to win our End of Season award for goalkeepers.
Kepa Arrizabalaga [Chelsea]
Like Kepa, Jordan Pickford also had 14 clean sheets to his name, but his errors meant that he also did his bit to set Everton back to some extent. Martin Dubravka was hugely influential for Newcastle United and their bid for survival and so were Ben Foster and Mat Ryan for their respective sides.
But, Kepa, who had the tag of world’s most expensive goalkeeper to live up to, did incredibly well to live up to the expectations that came with it. There were a few initial hiccups, with the age old problem of struggling to deal with the long balls coming into the box.
However, the Spanish international impressed with his ability to learn quickly and cover up for his mistakes early into his stint with Chelsea. A controversy in a cup game threatened to derail his and Chelsea’s campaign. But, Kepa shrugged the incident off to finish the season off on a high.
While a tally of 14 clean sheets – the third highest in the Premier League – is impressive in itself, the fact that Kepa was also influential in Chelsea’s successful late charge for a top four finish means that he has managed to edge some of his contemporaries for the spot. A strong debut season to build on, but will he be adjudged as the best of the season?
Who do you think was the best goalkeeper in the 2018-19 Premier League season? Let us know in the poll below.