Aston Villa lost Brad Friedel to Tottenham Hotspur at the start of June, leaving a huge void in the Aston Villa team. Friedel had been ever present in the Premier League for Aston Villa since they signed him in July of 2008. Even then there were question marks over his age, people questioning whether this was a step forward or a step back due to Friedel’s advancing years, yet Friedel was determined to prove them wrong.
Aston Villa had arguably not had a quality consistent ‘keeper since Mark Bosnich back in 1999, Friedel came and very soon became a Villa Park favourite with his performances. Over his3 seasons at Villa Park Friedel was consistently a top performer, very rarely making a mistake and never making a costly mistake, where over the years the on-loan Scott Carson regularly failed to deal with crosses and the likes of Peter Enckelman with very costly errors.
Everyone was disappointed when Friedel left, with many expecting Ben Foster to join Aston Villa from his old club Birmingham. However it was the established ‘forgotten man’ of Shay Given who came in to replace Brad Friedel after being linked with the club for a couple of weeks. Given had been at Manchester City since 2009 but had fallen behind Joe Hart at Eastlands and never seemed likely to regain his place in the team.
With Given coming in for the departed Friedel, many Villa fans seem fairly happy at the signing, due to Given’s experience and brilliant performances over the years which saw him move to ‘money-bags’ Manchester City. Though is Given a suitable replacement, merely a replacement or infact an upgrade on Friedel for Aston Villa?
As shown above I have compared Shay Given and Brad Friedel over the 2008-9 Premier League season, with Given playing for Newcastle for the first half of the season until moving to Manchester City in the January transfer window. Although the above shows that overall both ‘keepers record’s across the season were very similar, Friedel had a much better win percentage of just under 45% to Given’s 32%, but the fact that Newcastle were relegated that season impacts a lot on Given’s record with him being there ’til January.
Shay Given made 133 saves to 128 saves by Brad Fridel, working out to 3.37 saves per game from Friedel to 3.59 saves per game by Given. Given did concede 7 more goals than Friedel that season and played just one game less which was during the time of his transfer, so Friedel just outdoing Given on minutes played with Friedel’s 3420 minutes played over Given’s 3330 minutes played. So across that season both ‘keepers record’s were very similar and they finished 5th place and 6th place with their clubs, Manchester City and Aston Villa respectively. On the whole Friedel had a slightly better record for the 2008-9 season, but take into account Given started the season at Newcastle who were eventually relegated.
Again I have compared the two ‘keepers, but this time across the 2009-10 season, which was Given’s 1st full season with Manchester City. Given did however miss 3 games of the season with a dislocated shoulder, missing the end of the season, so Friedel fared better for games played and minutes played with Friedel playing 3420 minutes compared to Given’s 3135 minutes played across the 2009-10 season. Once more they both compared similarly with them both achieving 17 wins in the season, but with Given played less games he had a slightly better win percentage of 48.6% to Friedel’s 44.7%. Friedel then fared better in relation to goals conceded, with him letting in 39 goals which was slightly better than Given’s 42 goals conceded, working out at Fridel conceding just over 1 goal per game, which was again very marginally better than Given’s 1.2 goals concede per game.
On the whole both ‘keeper’s records over the 2008-9 and 2009-10 seasons compare very similarly. Both season saw the ‘keepers have similar win percentages and saved around the same number of shots, working out to around the same number of goals conceded, with Friedel’s 2008-9 record better taking into account Given’s time at Newcastle. In 2009-10 again they fared very similar with the same number of games won in that season, but Given having a better win percentage due him playing less games. What you can take from the two ‘keepers is fitness, with Friedel not missing a Premier League game since his time at Blackburn Rovers and Given having problems with his shoulder, which kept him out of the end of the 2009-10 season and the start of the 2010-11 season, ultimately playing a big role in him not playing a single game in that season. Although Joe Hart’s emergence did contribute it was the fact that Given was not fit at the start of the season.
What Aston Villa are losing is a very consistent ‘keeper with a great shot stopping ability, who brings out the best in his team and never misses a Premier League match. What Aston Villa have gained is a ‘keeper with great shot stopping ability, a leader from the back and one who brings out the best in his team, who may miss the odd Premier League game, but on the whole is very consistent.
So looking back to the start of the article and looking at the comparison I feel Aston Villa have lost a brilliant ‘keeper in Friedel but have replaced him with an equally brilliant ‘keeper in Shay Given, one who has been named in the PFA team of the year twice, in 2001-2 season and 2005-6 season and is the Republic of Ireland’s all time most capped player, hardly anything Villa fans can turn their nose’s at.
Villa’s loss in Friedel is Villa’s gain in Given.