Thursday, 7 February 2013

Clean Sheet 13

Well the A-League continued to shine brightly despite negative tabloid media reports highlighting the crowd behaviour of a few over another cracking Melbourne Derby clash played in front of over 41,000 passionate fans at Etihad Stadium. Victory’s Nathan Coe and the Heart’s Andrew Redmayne’s keeping performances were a standout with Coe picking off some brilliant acrobatic efforts earning him the coveted ‘Save of the Round’. His full stretch effort from Gol Gol Mebrahtu’s free kick was something to behold and would earn the praise of many keepers around the globe.

One thing for certain is that the Socceroos goalkeeping succession plan is in terrific shape with a healthy sized queue forming to take over from Mark Schwarzer when he finally decides to hang up his international boots. It is unlikely that Schwarzer will ever be asked to make way for a younger keeper after his continued outstanding service to his nation, but the competition existing both here and abroad for the number one shirt is unprecedented.

Back to the games and anyone watching the Wellington Phoenix/Perth Glory game would have noticed the standout game dished up by All Whites and Phoenix keeper Mark Paston. For so long on the wrong side of the score sheet this season, Paston’s heroics in the box went a long way to help salvaging some respect for their embattled manager Ricki Herbert and suffering fans.

Moving to the old dart and as a long-time goalkeeping tragic, it was a wonderful sight to see Aussie keepers Brad Jones and Dean Bouzanis go head to head in the FA Cup clash between Liverpool and Oldham Athletic last weekend. Oldham eventually prevailed over the Reds 3-2 and will now prepare to the brush aside their Merseyside cousins Everton on the 17th of this moth. This game could be a turning point for the young Bouzanis who has made it known the wants back in at Liverpool after joining the club as a youth player back in 2007.  Be sure to watch this young Sydney lad peddle his wares as he was once described by former manager Rafa Benitez as “the best goalkeeper in the world for his age.”  Which brings me to the Red’s Pepe Reina and his clanger against Manchester City. In all fairness I don’t think poor ol’ Pepe deserves too much curry for his error in judgement in rushing out to welcome Sergio Aguero to the edge of the penalty area. The fact Aguero threaded the ball between Reina and the goal like a loving Nanna weaving a difficult ‘Jump Stitch’ embroidery manoeuvre did nothing to hide his embarrassing howler.

The QPR and Norwich game was hardly writing home about except for the keepers Julio Cesar (QPR) and Mark Bunn (NOR) chalking up their fifth and second clean sheets respectively. Sadly for Harry Rednapp, his side looks set to head down to the Championship later in the year barring a miracle that even the Mayan’s couldn’t predict. Arsenal scraped home against Stoke City at the Emirates courtesy of clean sheet number five to Wojciech Szczesny whilst Manchester United’s David De Gea continued to deflect the ongoing criticism of his keeping form by even keeping the Craven Cottage crowd in the dark with some smashing saves in the clash with Fulham. Hugo Lloris again helped his Tottenham side go a very long way to securing a top four position and possible Champions League spot with a classy win over an ill disciplined West Brom outfit. Goran Popov was shown a straight red card for spitting at Spurs fullback Kyle Walker in a disgraceful act. Spurs then took advantage of the man down which eventually saw Gareth Bale notch up his 11th goal of the season and earn even more interest in his talent from abroad.

In closing, a special mention to the keeper with possibly the best name in the game being West Ham’s favourite Finn Jussi Jaaskelainen. Jussi recorded his seventh clean sheet against Swansea City after playing in every league game to date.  Check out his shirt next time not a lot of room left for anything on that baby.

Until next week

Football Quote of the Week:

"Being a goalkeeper gives you a unique perspective on things. You are part of a team yet somehow separate; there are no grey areas, with success or failure being measured in real time; and you have a physical job which you can do well only by paying attention to your mental well being. A great goalkeeper has to have the keys to a great mindset. To be able to work well in the box, I believe you have to be able to think outside of the box."
- Brad Friedel (Former USA and current keeper at Tottenham Hotspur)

Deep and thought provoking stuff Brad but interesting nonetheless…

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