Clean Sheet – Begovic continues to impress

by James Clark

Welcome back to ‘Clean Sheet’, an inside look at the greatest position in World Football… “Goalkeeper”.

Round nine of the A-League threw up some goalkeeping changes due to Mat Ryan and Eugene Galekovic being absent as a result of their Socceroos squad call up. This made way for some reserve keepers to show their wares to club management. Paul Izzo stepped into the Adelaide United goal on debut and impressed many pundits with his sharpness in the box. His save from a quality strike from Central Coast’s Josh Rose displays how healthy goalkeeping talent is in this country. So many writers tend to heap too much early praise and expectation on young talent, but Izzo’s calmness under pressure belies his age and I’m sure it won’t be too long before the Joey’s Australian U-17 rep gets more game time at senior level.  Justin Pasfield was called into the Mariners courtesy of Matt Ryan being in Hong Kong on Socceroos duties and helped his side take the top spot on the competition ladder. For Pasfield it will be a case of taking his rare chances or as such time as number one keeper Mat Ryan secures an overseas contract.

Another keeper to be promoted into the run on team was Sydney FC’s Vedran Janjetovic. With Frank Farina taking over the reins at the embattled club, Janjetovic was brought in at the expense of regular gloveman Ivan Necevski who has had to endure a very tough time at the back. The goals conceded column at Sydney FC certainly cannot be contributed to Necevski, but perhaps an early freshen up paired with a solid tactical change and mindset in defence can build the confidence of the struggling unit. The change certainly paid dividends as Janjetovic recorded the first clean sheet for the club this year.

My save of the week was a tough decision and was harder to split than a knotted piece of old hardwood. Melbourne Victory’s Nathan Coe was a fine candidate after his lowdown dive prevented the powerful Shane Smeltz header finding the net, but it was stand in Sydney keeper Vedran Janjetovic who’s effort to stop Fred’s rocketing header that narrowly gets the chocolates for my save of the week.

To the EPL and the commentator curse strikes again. If you remember my article from a week ago, I was singing the praises of the West Bromwich Albion keeper Ben Foster. Since my last post, Foster has gone under the knife in Germany for a groin injury and is recovering aiming to return to the pitch in three weeks. Hopefully his return to the Baggies will see them continue their impressive season and consolidate their position on the ladder. My positive piece certainly didn’t help their chances on the weekend, losing to Stoke at The Hawthorns. My future self imposed media ban will certainly go a long way to helping their chances of winning the three points in future games this season. Another big apology goes out to Norwich stopper John Ruddy. I prematurely put some big raps on his performances for the Canaries only to learn that his torn thigh courtesy of the Everton clash will see him sidelined for three months. Norwich will now rely on replacement keeper Mark Bunn to fill Ruddy’s shoes and hopefully continue the club’s unbeaten Premier League run since a defeat to Chelsea way back in early October.

Joe Hart’s save on the weekend against Everton will help give him some much needed confidence, but it was Asmir Begovic’s seventh clean sheet which has helped Stoke climb above Arsenal and into ninth place on the table. Begovic has played all 15 games this season and if his clean sheet form continues, Stoke City will make life very difficult for teams at the pointy end of the season. I only hope my reports don’t have a negative effect on his form or fitness coming into the festive season and beyond.

The weekly ‘Keeping Clanger’ unfortunately goes to Ante Covic from Western Sydney Wanderers. I never like highlighting the low points of a keeper’s game but Ante’s miss against Wellington was right up there. The fluky windy Wellington conditions inside the “Cake Tin” totally bamboozled Covic as he was clean bowled by a long strike by Jeremy Brockie. His effort to bounce back and finish strongly with a couple of classy saves displayed his mental toughness and his ability to put an error behind him quickly and move on. The Wanderers were unlucky not to leave the

Random Clean Sheet trivia answer

Last week’s quiz asked, “Which goalkeeper has the longest clean sheet record of all time in soccer?”

Sadly I didn’t get a correct response to the quiz, but for the record the longest clean sheet record in the EPL is currently held by the great Manchester United goalkeeper Edwin van der Sar for a staggering 1,311 on field minutes back in season 2008-09.

I will search for another goalkeeping stat to quiz my many thousands of weekly readers and twitter followers for next week’s edition. Please stay tuned.

Quote of the Week

Football is a fertility festival. Eleven sperm trying to get into the egg. I feel sorry for the goalkeeper.

Bjork (Singer – Iceland)

I’ve always liked Bjork’s offbeat music style, but never thought she had such a deep understanding of the greatest position in football.

Catch you all again next week.

Yours in football

bigfella (James Clark)

Twitter: @clarkies2340

Blog: http://cleansheetfootball.blogspot.com.au/

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