Premier League 'Best Of' - The Results!
Tomorrow sees the long-awaited restart of Premier League football after the longest hiatus since the war and the curtain-raiser see Aston Villa and Sheffield United face off, two of the sides who aptly took part in the opening round of fixtures in the inaugural 1992/93 season.
Last week we gave you the chance to relive the highs and lows the goalkeepers have given us over the last twenty-eight-years in the form of the best saves and the biggest errors.
Take a look at the choices of the Sparta Spotlight readers:
1 = Craig Gordon - SUNDERLAND v Bolton Wanderers 2010/11 - 26%
Craig Gordon’s injury-laden time in England did nothing to help him live up to the record fee Sunderland paid Hearts in 2007, but he shares top spot here.
He demonstrated his class when he was fit and whilst deputising for Simon Mignolet against Bolton in December 2010, kept Sunderland’s 1-0 lead intact when he managed to claw away a close-range effort from Zat Knight when it seemed destined for the back of the net.
Both of these sides were in the mix for a European spot at the time and the win catapulted Sunderland into 6th, both clubs have suffered devastating collapses into the lower leagues, but Gordon has enjoyed a revival in his career and is currently at Celtic.
1 = Thomas Kuszczak - Wigan Athletic v WEST BROMWICH ALBION - 2005/06 - 26%
Thomas Kuszczak, like Gordon, fell somewhat short of the hype surrounding his early career and saves like this in his West Brom days may have exasperated that.
In January 2006 West Brom were in the heat of a relegation battle and without an away win all season when they travelled to Wigan and being down to ten men for the entire second half whilst 1-0 up, Kuszczak was immense as his goal came under siege.
The best of the lot and one of the best in Premier League history, came in the final minute of the game.
An incredible reaction save to deny Jason Roberts was as important as any goal and Bryan Robson’s men earned a vital three points, although they were ultimately relegated at the end of the season.
The Poland international attracted the attention of Sir Alex Ferguson in the summer of 2006 but wasn’t able to hold down a first team place at Old Trafford.
3. Peter Schmeichel - Liverpool v MANCHESTER UNITED 1992/93 - 18%
At number three is arguably the most iconic goalkeeper in Premier League history in the iconic fixture in English football.
Manchester United won the inaugural Premier League title (and the small matter of another twelve) and in March of 1993 travelled to Anfield, with Peter Schmeichel pulling off a magnificent save in front of the Kop from Don Hutchison’s stinging effort on the turn.
Liverpool had very much been on the front foot throughout and Schmeichel’s quick reactions from Hutchinson’s effort kept the game at 0-0 as United went onto record a vital 2-1 victory in pursuit of their first title in twenty-six years.
This wasn’t the only one of Schmeichel’s saves on the list and we needn’t wax lyrical on how the rest of his career panned out...
1. Peter Enckleman - Birmingham City v ASTON VILLA 2002/03 - 31%
The winner our ‘Biggest Gaffes’ vote will make Villa fans wince, benefiting their city rivals Birmingham in the first league Premier League derby between the two.
Peter Enckleman’s mis control of Olof Mellberg’s throw-in and the subsequent bobble into the net is car crash viewing and you can almost view the moment the unfortunate ‘keeper realises what he’s just done.
Enckleman remained remarkably calm as a Birmingham fan ran on the pitch to goad him, but in truth nothing that night could have helped his standing with the Aston Villa faithful.
The Fin would remain as Graham Taylor’s first choice for 2002/03 campaign, but left in 2004 after being relegated to the subs bench before moving onto Blackburn and then Cardiff City.
2. Massimo Taibi - MANCHESTER UNITED v Southampton 1999/2000 - 23%
If losing Peter Schmeichel wasn’t difficult enough for Sir Alex, finding his replacement was proving to be a near-impossible task.
Massimo Taibi joined from Venezia in 1999 after United’s treble-winning season and Schmeichel’s departure and in-fact was awarded Man of the Match in his debut against Liverpool.
However, the defining moment of the Italian’s Old Trafford tenure was when he allowed a tame shot from Matt Le Tissier to trickle under his legs inexplicably in a 3-3 draw at home to Southampton.
Taibi played in United’s next game which was a disastrous 5-0 defeat to Chelsea, playing only one more game for the club before moving back to Italy for the remainder of his career.
3. Shay Given - Coventry City v NEWCASTLE UNITED - 1997/98 - 15%
Apparently, Shay Given is the only Irishman who doesn’t know where Dublin is.
Dion Dublin foiled the Newcastle goalkeeper and was as much the opportunistic striker’s doing as it was Given’s lack of concentration.
Nine times out of ten the ‘keeper would get away with it, but as Given rolled the ball out in front of him, Dublin who had held back from tracking up the field, snuck in to punish the Irishman and slid it into the empty net.
Given of course recovered from his mistake unlike the top two in this list, but remains an iconic moment in Premier League history.