Premier League GK's Half Time Report - Part 2
Last week we started our ‘half-time’ 2020/21 grading of the Premier League number ones.
This edition of Sparta Spotlight looks at the ‘keepers from Crystal Palace to Leicester City in alphabetical order.
Crystal Palace - Vicente Guaita; B+
Palace have reignited their otherwise indifferent campaign with back-to-back wins in the last two after a run of just one win in ten. No matter how inconsistent the Eagles have been this season, Vicente Guaita has been anything but and has impressed many a neutral with a string of excellent performances, namely against Tottenham in December.
With the Spaniard’s contract up in the summer, Roy Hodgson would have been sweating on the potential of letting one of his star men leave for free, but much to his relief, Guaita signed an extension in January, despite interest from some big clubs in Europe.
Everton - Jordan Pickford; C
Despite his obvious ability in his distribution and a being very reliable part of the England set up for the last three years, Pickford has not particularly enjoyed great form at Everton this season.
A number of high-profile errors paired with the form of Nick Pope, will force Gareth Southgate into some serious considerations around who will wear the gloves at the European Championships. Players in the England side will always be subject to more scrutiny than others, but the former Sunderland man must show more consistency to not only ensure his place in the national team, but also as Carlo Ancelotti’s number one.
Fulham - Alphonse Areola; B
Fulham were painfully easy to score against during their previous spell in the Premier League and although they find themselves in the bottom three, this time around they are far more defensively sound.
The capture of Alphonse Areola on loan from PSG was seen as a coup when Scott Parker was able to beat stiff competition for the Frenchman.
On the end of more than a few hammerings two seasons ago, Fulham have mostly been beaten by the odd goal throughout the campaign, with their lack of fire power and only one recognised striker on the books the main source of woe and Areola has been pretty solid in his debut Premier League campaign.
Leeds United - Illan Meslier; B
Leeds have the second worst defensive record in the Premier League and yet Illan Meslier has been very impressive in his inaugural season in the topflight, made even more so by the fact he is still only twenty.
Of course, it is important to consider Marcelo’s Bielsa’s aggressive pressing style when taking into account the fact Leeds have conceded 38 goals this term, as it leaves them very open to the counterattack.
Meslier may be relatively slight in stature compared to his goalkeeping counterparts in the Premier League, but he has pulled off some very mature performances and on the rare occasion where Leeds have scored only once, Meslier has been a mammoth in the Elland Road net to help his side grind out 1-0 victories.
Leicester City - Kasper Schmeichel; B+
Despite signs of inconsistency by his side against teams in the lower realms of the league, Kasper Schmeichel has captained his Leicester team to third spot at the halfway stage, which they will be desperate to keep hold of this time around.
Schmeichel has not only shown typically brilliant performances for Brendan Rodgers’ side, but also great leadership qualities as the Foxes have bounced back from a crushing disappointment in missing out on the top four at the end of last season.
The Dane has kept three clean sheets in the last three games and if he keeps up this sort of form, Leicester City fans will be feeling very different at the climax this campaign.