The top flight currently boasts 12 keepers who were picked to represent their country in Brazil: Thibaut Courtois, Tim Howard, Simon Mignolet, Joe Hart, David de Gea, Tim Krul, Julio Cesar, Asmir Begovic, Ben Foster, Hugo Lloris, David Ospina and Fraser Forster.
While Hart may be England’s No. 1, his Manchester City place is under threat following the arrival of 32-year-old Willy Caballero. Manuel Pellegrini made Caballero first choice against Arsenal in the Community Shield at Wembley, fueling speculation that Hart may face another battle to retain his place under his Chilean manager, despite Caballero letting in three against Arsenal last weekend.
2013/14 joint winner of the ‘Golden Glove’ award, Petr Cech will also face a fight for the No. 1 jersey as Jose Mourinho has recalled Thibaut Courtois, 22, from Atletico Madrid where he has grown from a boy into a man between the sticks.
Whilst Mourinho has failed to speculate on the battle raging between for Chelsea’s No. 1 shirt, we already know that things are far from perfect behind the scenes at Stamford Bridge as the blues boss is waiting until the very last minute to announce the first-team squad.
It would be a risk to stick Courtois in goal from the outset; he is still young and needs more experience of being a Premier League ‘keeper. If Mourinho knows what is good for Chelsea he would stick with the long-serving Petr Cech, as my dad would say: ‘Goalkeepers are like a fine wine in that they just keep getting better with age.’
When it comes to rivalries, Chelsea and City will not be the only club with top keepers battling it out. Arsenal keeper Wojciech Szczesny has made it clear he is up for the battle with Colombian Ospina, who insists he is not willing to sit on the bench. The competition between these two is set to be fierce as both are still relatively young.
Szczesny started well last season but cracks started to appear as his side’s Premier League campaign faltered. Ospina, on the other hand, will not only have to adapt to life in the Premier League but must also prove to Arsene Wenger that he can bring more to the side than his rival. With that in mind, he may have to get used to sitting on the bench this term.
Southampton have now put a stop to their summer exodus – well, at least the Saints faithful hope they have – and the arrival 26-year-old Fraser Forster on a four-year deal means Artur Boruc will have some serious competition. Forster is arguably the better goalkeeper due to his presence and confident attitude, whereas Boruc, despite being at the club for the past two seasons, still looks nervous and uncomfortable with the ball.
Looking back at last season, Boruc will mostly be remembered for letting in that remarkable and ridiculous goal Asmir Begovic netted against him in a wind-assisted opener after just 13 seconds. In short, the stopper will have an immense amount of work to do this term if he wants to keep Forster on the sidelines.
As the big kick-off is now just hours away, goalkeeper rivalry is set to be thrilling, exciting and will only lead to more top-class performances. And the extreme pressure will be key to Hart and Co becoming the heroes.
Pre-season has already seen some of the games biggest names doing battle with their understudies, but there will be plenty of twists and turns as the campaign unfolds.
Do you think it will be the goalkeepers claiming the headlines this season? Who would you like to see as your club’s No.1?
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