Some teams at the top have been questioned over their defence this season: Arsenal , Manchester United and Chelsea, surprisingly. However, this campaign has seen a high volume of goals conceded and in fact, they’ve been flying in at a rate higher than any campaign since Manchester City last won the top division in 1967/68. They’ve conceded fewer than 17 of the other Premier Leagues teams and sit top. They’ve also scored the most.
With goals coming thick and fast since August, not only does it highlight some lacklustre defending that we’ve been gifted from the likes of Bolton and Blackburn, but it has given a platform for the men behind them; the often described “loneliest players on the pitch”, the last line of defence and the point winners (Michel Vorm ) or the point losers (Bartosz Bialkowski.) As is the nature of the role, they’re either lauded by their team mates after making a terrific save and earning their team victory, or they’ve just suffered the pains of the most unforgiving role in football.
But in between the sticks – who has been the best and worst this season?
Paul Robinson – the worst?
At the beginning of last season the former-England ‘keeper may not have been former anymore; when Fabio Capello called him up for the first set of friendlies post-World Cup melancholy, it was the Blackburn ‘keeper that was the deciding factor in him not featuring in the games – he pulled the plug on his international career, retiring at the ‘keeping young age of 31. He, unlike the F.A, told Capello “no more” having been mucked around enough by the meddling Italian.
15 months later and I for one am grateful that Paul Robinson didn’t seize the opportunity to step between the sticks for England once more. While Hart enjoys an unbeaten spell for England of 16 games and sits at the top of the Premier League, having conceded only 15 in 15 games, with Manchester City, Paul Robinson is second to bottom in the league with Blackburn Rovers, having conceded the most goals in the league. Quickfire critics will shout the obvious “Joe Hart ’s got Richards , Lescott , Kompany and Clichy in front of him,” and I’ll give you that; well done, good knowledge. However, Paul Robinson’s not just behind the 2nd worst defence: he’s got the lowest saves-to-shots ratio of any regular Premier League goalkeeper this season at 52%, he’s only 14th in the leader board for most saves, despite facing 69 shots, and he’s the ‘keeper that’s seen the most points lost from leading.
Michel Vorm – the best?
When the Netherlands World Cup second-choice goalkeeper was signed for little over £1m from FC Utrecht, by Premier League new boys Swansea City FC, predicting such success would’ve been hasty. However, the international shot-stopper, who’s been capped by his country 8 times, has arguably been the best Premier League goalkeeper so far this campaign.
His penalty save against Clint Dempsey in the dying stages of his club’s weekend 2-0 home win against Fulham, was his second penalty save of the season, making him the #1 in that category along with Howard, Hennessey and Al-Habsi, and his 59th save of the season. Only David de Gea, Hennessey and Brad Friedel have made more saves, but what they can’t brag is a home record that stands at only two goals conceded.
In Michel Vorm ’s 15 games in goal for The Swans this season, in the Premier League, only two of the twenty goals they’ve shipped have been at home and they’ve kept six of Vorm’s seven clean sheets at the Liberty Stadium. No ‘keeper has kept as many clean sheets as Vorm has so far this season and none can brag as many home clean sheets either. At home, Michel Vorm ’s side has only lost once – a 1-0 loss to Manchester United , thanks to an acute header from the Mexican, Javier Hernandez. Vorm has kept a clean sheet whilst making over five saves, three times too.
The rest of the contenders – who else is shutting teams out or letting leads slip?
Brad Friedel ’s debut saw the most saves in one game so far this season with 13 shots being stopped by the aging American, but he let 3 past him, meaning that save success rate for one game comes in at 81%. Over the campaign, Friedel’s only been on the losing side three times, but in the top six, only Arsenal have conceded more and 8 of them were in one game.
David de Gea has conceded fewer than all other #1s bar Pepe Reina, who has conceded the fewest in the whole Premier League with 13, and this is down to his own handy work, not his defence; Manchester United’s Spaniard’s saves-to-shot ratio was 79% 10 games into the Premier League, 33% better than his Top 4 rival’s, Petr Cech , who at the same point in the season had the then worst saves-to-shot ratio, since taken by Paul Robinson . Since then the Czech has kept 3 clean sheets in his last five games.
The weekend highlighted the enormity of contribution a ‘keeper can have, with Victor Valdes showing how you can give away a goal 22 seconds in and Michel Vorm showing how you can take all three points with a penalty stop 87 minutes in. Whether you’ve got Paul Robinson, John Ruddy or Joe Hart in goal, who’s been the best between the sticks for you?
Article courtesy of Jordan Florit from This is Futbol