First up, it’s the goalkeepers…
Alisson – Liverpool
Despite an injury-hit campaign, the reigning Premier League golden glove winner has still maintained such high levels of consistency when fit to contribute to Liverpool’s dominance at the top of the table.
What’s even more remarkable is only Nick Pope (11) has kept more clean sheets this term despite Alisson missing 9 games overall. Seven of the Brazilian’s 10 shutouts in 19-20 came in consecutive appearances between December and January as the Reds put daylight between themselves and Manchester City. Were it not for that calf injury suffered during the opening weekend win over Norwich City, it’s fair to say Alisson could have had more clean sheets by now.
But it’s not just shot-stopping where Alisson has excelled this season. His superb assist in the final minute of Liverpool’s 2-0 win over Manchester United was an undoubted highlight as a long clearance accurately found Mohamed Salah before he fired past David De Gea.
Nick Pope – Burnley
The only man to keep more clean sheets than Alisson this season, Nick Pope has established himself as one of the Premier League’s most consistent goalkeepers.
In a campaign that has also brought a competitive debut for England, Pope’s form at club level has been integral to a Burnley side that currently sits 10th in the Premier League table and has all but avoided relegation for another year. His performances have also alerted England manager Gareth Southgate and he would surely have been a contender for the No.1 jersey this summer had the European Championships gone ahead.
One performance that earmarked Pope’s quality was Burnley’s 2-1 win over Leicester in January, and despite a first-half deficit, Pope would produce a man of the match performance that helped the Clarets secure victory. With the score 1-1, a stunning penalty saves from Jamie Vardy – one of seven saves during the 90 minutes – proved to be the turning point.
He may not have had the most straightforward of careers, but Pope’s current form has proved that he deserves to be in contention for team of the season.
Dean Henderson – Sheffield United
For all of Nick Pope’s excellent form, there’s another English keeper who has excelled in the top-flight this season.
With 10 clean sheets, Dean Henderson has proved a pivotal cog in the well-oiled Sheffield United machine that has surprised many to find themselves 7th and just 5 points off the top four.
World Class, Deano, World Class. 🤯— Sheffield United (@SheffieldUnited) March 7, 2020
Dean Henderson 👏 pic.twitter.com/yY6nycPiBG
Now in his second season on loan from Manchester United, Henderson’s performances have created debate as to whether he should succeed David De Gea as No.1 in the near future. Statistically speaking, the Englishman has had a better campaign keeping more clean sheets and boasting a higher save ratio (76%) to his Spanish counterpart (72%).
Another sign of Henderson’s talent is his ability to bounce back from adversity. After his error that gifted Liverpool a 1-0 win at Bramall Lane in September, the England U21 international overcame criticism from manager Chris Wilder and kept three clean sheets in his next four appearances.
What the future holds for Henderson remains to be seen, but whether he returns to Old Trafford or remains in South Yorkshire it is certain he will battle it out with Pope and Jordan Pickford for the England No.1 jersey over the coming years.
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