Clean sheets have become a rare commodity in football with teams and fans preferring to win 4-3 than 1-0. However, a goalkeeper’s importance shouldn’t be underestimated and that is the reason the coveted Golden Glove is awarded in the Premier League. Since its inception in the 2004-05 season, just five goalkeepers have claimed the prize, all of who have been representing one of the league’s top five teams. Joe Hart has kept the most clean sheets in four of the past six seasons making him the individual with the most golden gloves while Petr Cech and Pepe Reina have won the award three times each and Edwin Van der Sar and Wojciech Szczesny have a sole glove on their mantelpiece.
The award also shows the changing nature of football with Cech’s tally of 21 clean sheets in the award’s inaugural season being the joint highest with Van der Sar’s 2008/09 tally, the season in which he kept an incredible 14 clean sheets in succession. Hart’s tally of 14 last year was the lowest required to win the award with Cech and Szczesny’s number of 16 in the previous two seasons the next lowest.
So who will receive the honour in the upcoming 2015/16 season and will it take another low total as goals continue to take priority? I discuss the goalkeeping talents who will by vying for the award and debate who is best suited to claim the award.
After a spell on the sidelines two years ago, Hart is the undisputed Manchester City number one. Despite the defence in front of him being incredibly shaky last year, Hart still scooped the golden glove award for the fourth time. If Vincent Kompany is back to somewhere near his best, City will expect to be more solid at the back and keep more clean sheets.
Hart is one of the best individual goalkeepers in the league and his self-confidence will mean he has faith in his own ability to pick up a fifth award. Injury permitting, he is likely to play all 38 games this season, something that will naturally help in his aim to keep a greater number of clean sheets. However, if the City defence doesn’t improve on last season, Hart will be exposed too often to capture a fifth golden glove.
The Czech is the only other current Premier League keeper to have won the award and will be getting plenty of game time this season after his move to Arsenal. Cech was limited to a handful of appearances at Chelsea last season but still showed his ability remains with a string of impressive displays.
Arsenal’s backline has been continually questioned in recent seasons but their first choice back five kept a clean sheet against Chelsea in the Community Shield last week-end. Cech is far more consistent than Wojciech Szczesny and the Pole won the award two years ago playing behind a very similar defence. Since then, Laurent Koscielny has developed into a top class centre half and Per Mertesacker has won a World Cup, so expect Cech and Arsenal to be dark horses for this year’s golden glove.
The Belgian replaced Cech as Chelsea’s number one last year, so must be a serious contender for the golden glove award. Chelsea and Mourinho are notorious for their defensive approach meaning the Belgian should be consistently recording clean sheets this season and the Stamford Bridge outfit also have the strongest back four of any club in the league, a key factor in accumulating clean sheets.
Courtois has also been used to a similar outlook at Atletico Madrid as he was part of the 2013-14 title winning side which was based on a solid defensive unit containing captain and leader Diego Godin. John Terry plays a similar role at Chelsea whilst the 23 year-old’s huge size is also daunting prospect for opposition attackers. If he remains fit, Courtois is the favourite to scoop this season’s prize.
With David De Gea’s ongoing transfer saga, the Argentinian will have a chance to prove himself as Utd’s number one. If he puts in some good performances, the club may decide to cash in on De Gea whilst they can, leaving Romero as the undisputed number one for the rest of the season.
The lack of strength in Utd’s central defence could be Romero’s biggest problem, requiring him to pull off performances of the standard of De Gea last year when the Spaniard still only kept 10 clean sheets. However, if he can reach somewhere near those heights and the Utd defence becomes less porous with the added protection from central midfield, Romero may surprise some people during this season. He also has the benefit of starting the season and potentially playing all games, something De Gea wouldn’t have the benefit of should he return to the fold.
Jack Butland: With Asmir Begovic moving to Chelsea during the summer, the 22 year old will start the season as Stoke City’s number one. The club now have a more expansive style than under Tony Pulis but the Brittania remains a tough place to go and the Potters still maintain a fearsome defence.
Lukasz Fabianski: The Pole was heavily criticised during his spell at Arsenal, but was a revelation during his debut season in Wales. Fabianski quietly went about his business, amassing 13 clean sheets last season as he built a solid platform for Swansea’s plethora of attacking players to build on. With club captain Ashley Williams remaining at the club for another season and riding high from captaining his country to the brink of Euro 2016 qualification, expect the Swansea backline to record many more shutouts this season.
Simon Mignolet: Despite Liverpool’s defence appearing shambolic at times and being dropped half way through last season, the Belgian still recorded 13 clean sheets, one shy of Joe Hart’s golden glove winning number. With Nathanial Clyne brought in to bolster the defence and Emre Can likely to move to his more natural holding role, Mignolet will be looking to build on his impressive clean sheet record.
This list may appear quite boring, but history suggests that the golden glove is always won by somebody playing for one of the top three or four teams. However, the competition promises to be tightly contested again this season, just as it was in 2014/15 when the award was decided on the last game of the season. With the number of goals being scored continually increasing, the number of clean sheets required will be similar to last year’s 14. However, the cream always rises to the top, so look for Hart, Cech and Courtois to be the main protagonists.[interaction id=”55a15e0b529840a30ec221b1"]
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Keanan Bennetts has perfect opportunity to impress Mauricio Pochettino this week
The left-sided star has a chance to impress in first-team training during the international break.
With the international week in full flow, plenty of teams in the Premier League have seen their squads diminished by call-ups to national teams.
Tottenham Hotspur are one such side. Nonetheless, with most of the first-team squad away with their respective nations, work continues at Hotspur Way.
In order for Spurs to have a full complement in training, plenty of young talent needs to be pulled in to the ranks.
Mauricio Pochettino will, therefore,e get a chance to see some of his young players training with regular first-team players such as Fernando Llorente, Erik Lamela and Lucas Moura.
One player who will be training with the first-team this week is talented wide-man Keanan Bennetts, according to London Live.
The 19-year-old left-winger has been catching the eye for the club’s youth team in recent weeks, making the news after scoring a fantastic goal for the under-19s against Monaco in the UEFA Youth League last month.
Bennetts has also been attracting interest for his positional dexterity. The wide-man has played at left-back in recent times and it could be that is his future best position.
This week he will be up against some excellent players such as Lamela and Moura, who did not receive selection to the Argentina and Brazil national teams, respectively.
If he can prove himself with this calibre of player, Pochettino will have to take notice.
It is coming to a point in his Tottenham career when Bennetts has to make such an impact. The teenager is out of contract at Spurs in the summer and needs to ensure he is kept on for at least one more season.
Tottenham fans who follow the youth teams are certain he is deserving of such a chance. If he can show Pochettino what he is capable of this week, then a new deal will surely be in the pipeline for the talented wide-man.
Despite improvement, Everton should not rekindle Thomas Vermaelen interest
The Belgian defender has been in better form for Barcelona this season.
Rumours have emerged today suggesting Everton could be back in for Belgian defender Thomas Vermaelen.
Catalan newspaper Sport has reported that the 32-year-old could be offered a new deal by Barcelona, with a team from the Premier League interested in signing him.
Sport Witness has openly hypothesised that Everton could be that team. Whilst there is no confirmation or substantiated report that is the case, the boot certainly fits.
Last summer Everton tried to sign Vermaelen.
As reported by the Liverpool Echo, at the time Barcelona vetoed a loan move to Everton as they felt the defender could be a useful asset.
The Belgian certainly has. After struggling with injuries and form throughout most of his Barcelona tenure the former Arsenal man has enjoyed a good season.
The 32-year-old has been a genuine asset to the Catalans, despite still being used sparingly, and such form has even seen him win back a place in Roberto Martinez’s national selection for Belgium.
If it is Everton interested in Vermaelen it is easy to see why. Centre-back has been a major problem for the club this season.
However, Vermaelen, or a player of his ilk, is not the answer to the Toffees’ woes.
The Belgian is obviously a talented player with plenty of experience, but Everton need to freshen up their back-line.
Ashley Williams and Phil Jagielka’s age has shown in recent months.
The pair have been, at the best, inconsistent for the past 18 months and Everton need fresh young talent in the heart of defence if they are to succeed.
Vermaelen is not only 32 but also immensely injury prone. Everton need reliable figures to plug their leaky defences and the Belgian can simply not be relied upon.
Whilst on paper it seems a good deal, and one Everton could certainly turn to their benefit.
The truth is supporters of the Goodison Park outfit will hope they are not the club reportedly keen on bringing Vermaelen back to the Premier League.
Have West Ham United found the next Mark Noble in Alfie Lewis?
The 18-year-old put in a fine performance against Dagenham and Redbridge this week.
West Ham United took on Dagenham and Redbridge in a friendly yesterday, in a match to raise funds for the National League side.
It was no surprise to see West Ham come out victorious. They won 3-1, with Michail Antonio at the double and Jordan Hugill scoring his first goal for the club.
It was, however, a Hammers team depleted by international selection.
With that in mind, David Moyes’ side fielded some of their younger players. Plenty of them caught the eye, but none more so than central midfielder Alfie Lewis.
The 18-year-old put in a fine display for 90 minutes which left West Ham fans very excited on social media.
It was an even more special achievement given Lewis spent most of last year on the sidelines with a serious knee injury.
Lewis himself told the official West Ham website after the game: “I’m delighted.
“It was a good experience for me tonight, to play with the likes of Patrice Evra, and Mark Noble in midfield. It was a good challenge and a good test for us as well, and I think I did well.”
He spoke of it being an honour playing alongside Mark Noble, but is he the successor to the throne?
Whilst Noble has had his critics in recent times there is no doubt he has been a long-term hero at West Ham.
Fans of the club have often wondered why Noble has never received England recognition given his consistent form in the Premier League.
Noble has gone on to play over 400 games for West Ham since his debut for the club back in 2004.
Lewis certainly has the ability to follow in his footsteps. An energetic midfield creator, West Ham look to have another midfield gem in their ranks and one that can hopefully progress into the first-team soon.
The Hammers have a fine record of bringing through young players.
Noble is one current example and Lewis could not be at a better club if he is to find his way into the West Ham first-team.
This season, with a relegation battle raging, might come a little too soon for the teenager.
Nonetheless, in 2018-19 it will not be a surprise if Lewis finds himself playing alongside Noble in the West Ham midfield once again.
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