At a critical point in their quest to bring European football to St. Mary’s next season, Southampton were dealt a potentially bitter blow with news that goalkeeper Fraser Forster had been ruled out for the remainder of their campaign with injury.
While the natural assumption for many fans would be that missing such a towering figure in their backline would be a huge setback, due to Southampton’s impressive defensive resolve this season his replacement may not actually be troubled too often.
Forster is one of eight goalkeepers to have featured in every Premier League game for their club this season, but thanks to the well-organised defensive unit in front of him he has faced just 78 shots on target - 20 fewer than any of the other goalkeepers who have played in every game - saving 59 of them. This equates to facing a shot on target every 36.1 minutes on average, making Forster the least busy of any goalkeeper to have made 10 or more Premier League appearances this season.
When he has been called into action he has boasted a save percentage of 75.6 per cent, which among the eight ever-presents is only bettered by the 77.3 per cent registered by West Ham’s Adrian. Whether or not Forster’s understudy, Kelvin Davis, can match his level is perhaps less of a concern given that he is unlikely to find himself too busy between now and the end of the term.
The keeper enjoying the second quietest season is the man that Forster has in turn been understudy to at international level: Joe Hart. Manchester City’s stopper has started 28 of their 30 Premier League games this season and is called into action slightly more often than his Southampton counterpart, on average every 33.7 minutes, with a marginally inferior save percentage of 73.8.
While it would appear that Hart and Forster’s main obstacle is staying focused while their colleagues go about their business further up the pitch, another England goalkeeper finds himself in the thick of things much more regularly. Of Premier League goalkeepers to have made 10 or more appearances this season, none have been busier than QPR’s Rob Green, who has faced 151 shots on target - the division’s highest and an average of one every 18.6 minutes.
While this may make Green the division’s busiest keeper, the former West Ham player has justified his inclusion in Roy Hodgson’s England set-up, making 109 saves - 50 more than Forster - with a save percentage comparable to his international rivals at 72.2 per cent.
While Green’s international recall has been a silver lining to the overtime he puts in each weekend, another Premier League veteran who starred on the international stage in Brazil last summer has struggled to match his standards of previous campaigns.
Tim Howard put in some stellar performances with the United States at the World Cup but for Everton he has had a season to forget. On average Howard faces a shot on target every 28.5 minutes he is on the pitch, but has the lowest save percentage of any goalkeeper to have made 10 or more appearances: 61.3 per cent. This is a far cry from the level Howard was performing at last season, when he had one of the highest save percentages among regular Premier League goalkeepers, with 75 per cent.
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