Friday, December 23, 2011

Five Excellent Goalkeeping Displays Thwart Liverpool's Champions League Aspirations

Liverpool have been terribly unlucky this season in front of goal. This fact all Liverpool fans know. 17 shots against the woodwork and four saved penalties testify to the Reds' dominant and yet strange lack of goals. Also Luis Suarez is the Premiership striker with the most number of attempted shots to goal (75) but only scored five goals. Nevertheless El Pistolero is Liverpool's top scorer this season with just eight in all competitions, underlining why Liverpool's supremacy in matches are not being converted into three points.

There is one other reason that has dented Liverpool's Champions League ambition. Excellent goalkeeping displays by the opposition has kept the Reds from winning at least five of their six drawn matches thus far. Under Kenny Dalglish, Liverpool have taken the game to the opposition whenever possible. And it has only been fantastic goalkeeping displays which have stopped Liverpool from winning against Manchester United, Norwich, Swansea, Manchester City and Wigan Athletic.

This is how these clubs' outstanding goalkeeper have kept out the rampant Reds...

Four saves from David De Gea
Luis Suarez, Jordan Henderson and Dirk Kuyt forced acrobatic saves from the young Spanish goalkeeper. De Gea took the opportunity in this highly charged match to emphasize his world-class shot-stopping abilities. The former Atletico Madrid keeper have a long and tough road ahead to successfully replace Edwin Van der Sar, but this match against Liverpool showed his boundless potential.

Eight saves from John Ruddy
John Ruddy made a staggering EIGHT saves against the mighty Reds. A last minute flying save from a Suarez volley denied Liverpool victory that they deserved at Anfield. Luis Suarez discovered a human brick wall in the Canaries' goalkeeper. Being an ex-Evertonian, Ruddy must have pleased the Blue half of Merseyside immensely.

Five saves from Michel Vorm
A snip of a signing, considering how much the former Utrecht goalkeeper has done for the Swans. Against Liverpool, Vorm saved twice from Suarez and once from Glen Johnson to deny the Reds a rare victory at Anfield. "Penalty Killer" Vorm has helped Swansea stay out of relegation trouble so far in the Premiership and is the unfashionable custodian with the most clean sheets.

Six saves from Joe Hart
Hart displayed outstanding reflexes to save everything that Liverpool threw at the Citizens. Super saves from Adam and Carroll brought respect for the England number 1. Crucially, with a very good defence in front of him, Hart has managed to keep his concentration and focus in games, pulling out great saves when needed. The legendary Peter Schmeichel have this steely quality and Joe Hart is on track to be as good as the giant Dane.

Nine saves from Ali Al-Habsi
Wigan have relied on the brilliance of the Omani keeper all season. Al-Habsi turned in a performance which might make Chelsea and AVB sit up and take notice should Petr Cech continue his erratic form in goal. His saves against Kuyt, Adam and Johnson earned the Latics a point and some much needed confidence going into the tough Christmas and New Year fixtures.

If none of these five goalkeepers stepped up their game, Liverpool would have put ten extra points on the board. Those points could have pushed them up to third in the table and only four points behind the Premiership leaders, Manchester City. It is not a coincidence that Al-Habsi, Vorm and Ruddy are among the top five best goalkeepers in number of saves and save percentage.

Some respite is in store though on Boxing Day. The second-worst defence in the Premiership comes to Anfield. There is no reason to suggest why Liverpool will not wipe the floor with Steve Kean's beleagured Blackburn. Paul Robinson lacks the agility that he had in his heyday and so Anfield will eventually be rocking to a resounding victory over Rovers.

Liverpool, though looking dominant under the Dalglish II, will need to strengthen in the January transfer window. Adding an attacking "media-punta" midfielder and a "fox-in-the-box" striker should be the last two missing pieces in the Reds' rebuilding jigsaw.

Which explains Liverpool's reported pursuit of Mesut Oezil and Xherdan Shaquiri,doesn't it? I'd plump for the brilliant Pato instead if he is available...

1 comment:

Geoff Snapes said...

Excellent article and some great goalkeeper performances. Slightly off topic - are there any keepers out there taking part in the new Goalkeeper Challenge? If you want to compete or get involved go to

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