The summer transfer window was, unsurprisingly, dominated by Tottenham Hotspur and Daniel Levy’s shrewdness to spend all of the Gareth Bale money before it had even cleared in the bank.
And the addition of some of Europe’s most sought after players can only mean that their bid for a top-four finish in the Premier League this season is stronger than ever before, even after losing their most influential player in Bale. But there remains one fixture of the the White Hart Lane side that may prove to be the difference between finishing in the top four or suffering yet another season of disappointment and despair at the hands of their North London rivals. Hugo Lloris.
The 26-year-old shot stopper, who also captains France, was a solid performer for Spurs last term. That wouldn’t come a surprise to many, of course, but the potential he shows behind an even more talented Spurs side this season means he may well be the best goalkeeper in the Premier League as we speak.
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Goalkeepers are arguably only as good as the defence in front of them, but that isn’t strictly true in some cases. Simon Mignolet, for instance, earned a move to Liverpool from Sunderland in the summer, despite conceding 54 goals over the course of the season and keeping just 11 clean sheets out of 38 games – a mere 28.94%. That will no doubt improve this season now that he has the likes of Martin Skrtel, Glen Johnson and Daniel Agger in front of him, but his performances for Sunderland were good enough to earn him a move elsewhere.
But Lloris’ performances last season went some way in suggesting that the £11million Spurs paid for him might just turn out to be a steal, particularly now he’s playing with a stronger squad in front of him.
After Lloris managed to replace Brad Friedel as Spurs’ first choice goalkeeper, he went on to make 27 Premier League appearances with a win percentage of 59%, being on the losing side on just four occasions. Joe Hart, Petr Cech and Wojciech Szczesny all enjoyed higher win percentages, but each played more games than Lloris. The stopper also achieved a 33.33% clean sheet ratio, which is equally impressive given the fact he didn’t feature in all of Spurs’ top-flight games last season.
Lloris will no doubt play in all of Spurs’ Premier League games this time around, which should see those percentages increase further. He’s already got two clean sheets to his name this season and has conceded just a single goal. Of course it’s only early days but, Spurs will be serious top-four contenders again this season and those statistics are only going to improve under Andre Villas-Boas and the squad he has built.
There are many who will argue that Joe Hart remains the Premier League’s best goalkeeper, but he is suffering a torrid time at the moment and it appears he’s becoming a victim of his own success by making sloppy mistakes both for City and England, which is seriously affecting his reputation as a world-class stopper.
Lloris is yet to make a single error leading to a goal in the Premier League for Spurs and commands his back four impressively, making his penalty area his own. It has been a long time since Joe Hart has done that successfully, while United’s David De Gea still looks inexperienced at times, despite boasting the best goalkeeping statistics last season.
With Michael Dawson, Jan Vertonghen, Vlad Chriches and Kyle Walker in front of Lloris, there is no denying that Spurs have one of the best defences in the top-flight at the moment and the Spurs goalkeeper will benefit from having a mixture of top-class talent and experience in front of him throughout the season.
The Premier League currently boasts an impressive crop of goalkeepers, but Lloris is fast becoming the best of the lot. If his defenders do their job, then he’ll be able to do his a lot easier and more effectively, putting him right to the top of the Premier League’s goalkeeping tree.
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