Clean Sheet – Back for another week

by James Clark

Welcome back to the second edition of ‘Clean Sheet’, an inside look at the greatest position in world football… “Goalkeeper”

Sadly this week hasn’t done my ‘Clean Sheet’ blog too much justice, as leaking goals was the order of the day. In the A-League, clean sheets were as scarce as recent Tasmanian Tiger sightings. The Central Coast Mariners proved inconclusively that they are again one of the teams to watch this season after netting a club record seven goals on the back of a hat-trick by Daniel McBreen.  The Swiss cheese like defence of Sydney FC compounded a horrible night for Ivan Necevski who spent more time fishing the ball from the back of the net than directing traffic from the six yard box. Despite the pain of the huge defeat, a healthy group of faithful Sydney FC fans who made their way up the F3, remained upbeat and positive by cheering and dancing well into the final minutes of added time.

Mariners keeper Matt Ryan had a seemingly more enjoyable night than Necevski, despite not adding to his healthy clean sheet tally. Apart from the obvious defensive lapses, the A-League continues to entertain the healthy crowds who welcome the theatrics that come with post goal celebrations. Thankfully the clash between the Brisbane Roar and Adelaide United finally delivered a clean sheet for the round. Eugene Galekovic’s performance was nothing short of outstanding. His confidence in the box continues to grow and the save from a crisp header by Erik Paartalu in the 53rd minute earned plenty of praise from his manager John Kosmina. Rarely do the stats lie, but in this case it displays the huge importance on converting chances, and not simply dominating possession, field position and scoring opportunities.

Brisbane managed to dominate all measures across the park at Suncorp Stadium except for the one that really matters….Goals

Here’s a quick wrap:

Goal Attempts: (Brisbane 26 Adelaide 4)

Time in Possession: (Brisbane 68% Adelaide 32%)

Corner Kicks: (Brisbane 13 Adelaide 1)

Brisbane travel to AAMI Park for Friday night’s game against Melbourne Heart and both teams will be desperate to get back into some winning form and stay within reach of the top four.

Melbourne Victory’s keeper Nathan Coe looked for all money to have secured his team’s first clean sheet of the season until a few defensive lapses and two late magic strikes late by Jeremy Brockie, put a dampener on an otherwise successful return to form for the club. Many pundits believe Brockie’s first effort is an early contender for goal of the year.

The A-League’s decision to schedule the match on Melbourne Cup eve also proved to be a masterstroke with a very committed 20,683 fans passing through the turnstiles at Etihad Stadium.

Round 10 of the Barclays Premier League also delivered some ‘exciting’ Clean Sheet action. Norwich City, Wigan Athletic, Aston Villa and a scoreless draw between West Ham and title holders Manchester City proved that defence isn’t dead yet. The Monday night game at the Hawthorns also handed West Bromwich Albion their fourth clean sheet of the season over bottom dwellers Southampton.

As many of us tune in to follow our team’s position on the ladder, their tilt for the title, or simply avoiding the relegation zone, I find it rewarding to measure the success of the often forgotten glove-men. However, the statistical success of a keeper doesn’t always correlate with that of their team’s ultimate premiership position. As it is always paramount to have a powerful and confident oozing striker on your books, a hardened keeper signing can mean the difference between staying up and fighting the slippery slope down to the Championship or beyond.

Sadly Reading’s Adam Federicci looks destined for an extended stint warming the bench over the winter after an impressive display by Alex McCarthy. Aston Villa’s Brad Guzan’s courage can never be questioned after a mighty save and subsequent kick to the hand from Sunderland’s Steven Fletcher helped keep Villa narrowly above the relegation zone. Guzan has been a shining light for Villa this season and restored the faith that Paul Lambert has shown in re-signing the US keeper this year. In coming weeks I will try and provide some detailed analysis on what stats increase the value of the keepers in the top flight.

Of the keepers who have played in all 10 fixtures this season, it’s not surprising to see the likes of Petr Cech (Chelsea), Joe Hart (Manchester City), and Ben Foster (West Bromwich Albion) dominating the table with the most recorded wins. Czech stands on top of the league with Jussi Jaaskelainen (West Ham) and Asmir Begovic (Stoke City) also recording an impressive four clean sheet tally for their respective clubs.

This brings me to the all important “Keeper-Clanger” of the week. In a forgettable night for Sydney FC’s Ivan Necevski, his unfortunate effort in the 29th minute secured the prize. After looking like he snared a crisp shot from Tomas Rogic, he coughed up the ball up only to watch on and witness a rather comical own goal by teammate Sebastian Ryall. Hopefully Ivan has a change of fortune this weekend as they host Melbourne Victory on Saturday night at Allianz Stadium.

My goalkeeper quote of the week and one that EVERY Keeper can sympathise with:

Every goal at that level is like a knife in the ribs.

(The great England keeper Gordon Banks)

For now it’s neck and neck in the battle for the A-League ‘Clean Sheet’ title, with Eugene Galekovic joining Matt Ryan on three clean sheets after five rounds.

Catch you all next week

Yours in football

bigfella (James Clark)

Twitter: @clarkies2340

2 Responses

  1. James Clancy James Clancy says:

    Interesting reading. Just wondering if you might have a copy (or a PDF) of that “Goalkeepers are different” book written by Brian Glanville? I will pay for it!

  2. Beany says:

    This season there seems to be a tendency for keepers to leave the goalbox regularly. I don’t have a problem with this, but when they pass it to the opposition, it can look a little silly.

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