PFA Team Of The Year Contenders: Goalkeepers6 min read
It is that time again with the season coming to a close where the PFA Team of the Year candidates are forced into overdrive.
This Premier League season has been a dramatic journey with plenty of ups and downs and a lot of quality on show from, perhaps, not always where you would expect it.
Here are my three best goalkeepers this season:
Alisson – #1
There was plenty of skepticism over Liverpool’s new goalkeeper signing from AS Roma last summer, but the Brazil international has put the hesitations to bed with his commanding and ball-playing abilities between the posts.
While there have been times in which Liverpool fans have sighed a huge breath of relief after some risqué play from the Brazilian, Alisson has been a pivotal factor in why the Reds have only conceded 18 goals.
"Above all I feel at home here." ?
— Liverpool FC (at ?) (@LFC) March 25, 2019
Yes, they also have a giant in Virgil van Dijk, who has helped solidify their defensive line, but without Alisson’s heroics at times, Liverpool would still be leaking goals that could cost them the title.
Given how close it is this year between Jürgen Klopp’s side and Manchester City, goal difference might have a deciding factor to play in this year’s run in. With Alisson’s league-high 17 clean sheets, Liverpool fans have the goalkeeper to thank for his heroic displays in goal this season.
Neil Etheridge – #2
Perhaps it is an unconventional choice for some given Cardiff City have shipped 57 goals this season and are in a relegation dog fight, but Neil Etheridge has been one of this year’s Premier League breakthrough players.
While the Philippines international might not be anywhere near the top of the list of clean sheets, he is, however, ranked number two in the Premier League for most saves made. Between now and the end of the season, it would not be surprising to see Etheridge climb the table and finish in top spot given the permeable defence in front of him.
What Etheridge has been known for apart from his raw shot-stopping is his consistent ability to save penalties. The Cardiff goalkeeper has saved a league-high of three penalties this season, routinely giving his side a lifeline in the game.
If Cardiff are relegated, there will not be a shortage of suitors that will be wanting to snap up the Bluebirds stopper. Etheridge has shown his reliability in goal this season and has been a standout performer from the clubs in-and-around the relegation zone.
David de Gea – #3
There can be a case made that David de Gea has not been as prolific this season as he has over the past three or four, but the Spain international’s level is still world-class.
With a weakened back four compared to his rivals, De Gea has a lot more work to do than the other goalkeepers at the top six clubs. Whether it is rushing off his line in order to clear a shoddy back pass or make a ridiculous aerial save, the Spaniard is, more often than not, in the right place at the right time to thwart the danger.
Why he is not higher in the list is due to a few mistakes that creeped into some of his games this season. Unfortunately for him, because of the standard he has set for himself over the last few years, De Gea is now expected to constantly reach perfection.
The Spaniard does not score particularly high in three of the four barometers when ranking goalkeepers – ‘punches’, ‘high claims’ and ‘penalties saved’ – but he does in the ‘saves made’ category. The Spaniard has made 97 saves this season, making him third in line to the throne, compared to the next top six rival, Arsenal’s Bernd Leno, who ranks 11th with 77.
The difference in defensive quality is astounding and is one of many reasons as to why Man United fans are so thankful for De Gea’s game-saving attributes. Without De Gea, as ever, Manchester United’s season would be a sorry showing.