Only two clean sheets to speak of in the A-League this week. The Mariners’ Mat Ryan continued on his winning ways after a busy week making his Socceroos debut at the EAFF qualifying tournament in Hong Kong. Watching the game against the Heart, it was apparent that Ryan’s confidence is sky high as he surveyed the 18 yard box like he’d just put an offer in on the real estate. Ryan has gone to the equal top of the A-League clean sheet tally along with Ante Covic who also had a fine night out in the Sydney Derby. As bad as the defensive woes are for Sydney FC, they appear to be performing better under new manager Farina, however their midfield and forward play was poor and pedestrian at times. The passes failed to stick and the turnovers were all too frequent. The normally dependable attacking flair of Brett Emerton wasn’t there and I cannot remember seeing him miss three passes in succession like he did in the second half.
Western Sydney Wanderers are a very cohesive unit under Tony Popovic and his side followed his match plan to the letter by totally out enthusing their cross town cousins in all facets. What can be said is how wonderful the Sydney Derby atmosphere was at Allianz Stadium. The Wanderers support base is very impressive despite the club’s infancy, and teams heading to Parramatta Stadium should never underestimate their power to lift their side to victory. A local Derby is what every player and fan wants to be part of. From the long time rivalries that exist in the EPL between United/City; Liverpool/Everton; Tottenham/Arsenal; Leicester City/Nottingham Forest all the way through to the recent A-League Victory/Heart clashes. It’s what makes our game great. Even for a local Brisbane lad like myself, I‘m always drawn into watching a Derby clash around the globe, no matter where my club allegiances lie. This Saturday night sees another Derby with the Heart hosting the Victory at AAMI Park. I’m putting my money on the Heart to bounce back from the Mariners loss to narrowly get the points against Ange’s men.
Back to goal keeping and the Phoenix’s Mark Paston will be a little disappointed with his keeping performance after being kept very busy by the Adelaide United strikers. Paston failed to get a glove on the strikes from Carrusca (2) and Ferreira. Contrastingly United’s skipper Eugene Galekovic was in great touch by only conceding a solitary goal. It is certainly no fluke that Adelaide is sitting in second place on the ladder this year. Witnessing the players celebrating with their captain after his added time penalty heroics, you can see the genuine team spirit that exists in the playing group. It surprises me that Adelaide’s keeping captain Galekovic hasn’t recorded a vote towards the Alex Tobin Award this season. Although I’m sure most keepers prefer their performances go under the radar and not drawing too much attention from the outside world. On this occasion though he deserved at least a point maybe two…
To the EPL fixtures and only two clean sheets greeted the statisticians this week. Tottenham snuck home at White Hart Lane against Swansea with Hugo Lloris moving to three clean sheets in seven games for the French international. Lloris looks to have cemented himself ahead of Brad Friedel for Spurs since signing from Lyon before the summer transfer window. AVB must have a high opinion of him as his appointment back in October ended Freidel’s long run of 310 consecutive games in the Premier League.
In other clean sheet news West Brom and West Ham played out a scoreless draw at the Hawthorns. As the score line suggested, the game lacked any attacking flair or creativity but the result helped to stop the recent run of losses for Steve Clarke’s chargers. Boaz Myhill earned his first clean sheets after starting in his seventh game of the season. It is still unclear when Ben Foster will return after groin surgery but in the meantime Myhill has tackled his return with vigour and enthusiasm by doing extra hours in the gym and shedding a few kilos in the process. West Ham keeper Jussi Jaaskelainen continued his impressive stats and sits in equal second on the clean sheet table with six for the season. West Ham’s season so far has probably exceeded expectations, but with a seemingly good draw over the next few rounds they have the opportunity to move up a couple of places and consolidate their position.
Great news this week for Australian and Liverpool with keeper Brad Jones agreeing to a contract extension that will see him remain at Anfield for a few more seasons at least. Jones has been an impressive fill in for Pepe Reina this season and the Spaniard will need to remain in good touch so as not to give Manager Brendan Rodgers too many reasons to give Jones more game time.
Random Clean Sheet Trivia Answer
What is the record number of goals conceded by a goalkeeper in a FIFA World Cup match and by which keeper/country?
Congratulations go to @paulbroad who correctly identified that Luis Guevara Mora (El Salvador), leaked a record 10 goals in their match against Hungary in the 1982 FIFA World Cup (Spain)
Keeper Quote of the Week:
The joy of seeing Yuri Gagarin flying in space is only superseded by the joy of a good penalty save.
Russian Goalkeeping Legend and nick-named ‘The Black Spider’
Merry Christmas to everyone and I will catch you all again in the next edition.
Yours in football
bigfella (James Clark)
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