Asmir Begovic is having his best season to date at Stoke City and after over two years of jostling for position with Thomas Sørensen, the Bosnian has now firmly established himself as the number 1 choice in the Potteries.
Begovic started just 22 Premier League games last season but has already took to the field in all 14 of Stoke’s matches so far in this campaign. An inconsistent start to his Stoke career has seemingly given way to the star potential that has been so evident since day one.
It could all have been very different for Begovic who in his first season at the Britannia reportedly refused to play for the club in a League Cup tie, following speculation of an approach from Chelsea. This angered Tony Pulis who spoke freely to the press back in 2010:
[quote]”He said he did not want to play. I find that very disappointing. We pay his wages and he has a responsibility to the club.We have a lot of supporters who idolise this club and love it. We have a management team and people around who have been here a long time. They respect the club and like it as much as the supporters do. To do what he has done is totally disrespectful. Obviously people have been blowing in his ear. That goes on. I will have a chat with him.”[/quote]
Given the managers record with players who he has had a “falling out” with, it may be surprising that he was seen wearing a Stoke shirt ever again.
The fans also reacted badly to the news and Begovic was subjected to some choice words from his own fans in the weeks following the incident.
However the potential was clearly there and thank goodness the player and club were able to recover from what could have been a devastating affair.
Since his emergence at Stoke Begovic has continually been linked with a move away from the Britannia Stadium, with Chelsea, Manchester United, Liverpool and Tottenham all being rumoured to be chasing his signature, nevertheless Stoke City have continually re-iterated their intentions to hold onto the Bosnian international for as long as possible.
With the spotlight firmly fixed on Begovic, it would be useful to see how he stacks up against the rest of the league’s elite that have played all of their teams games so far this season:
Begovic is tied for clean sheets on six with two of the Premier League’s and probably the world’s most respected stoppers, Petr Cech and Joe Hart. In a league that contains some of the finest attacking talent any clean sheet can be hard to come by and with 6 from the opening 14 games it sure would suggest that Begovic is right up there with the best.
Not surprisingly the defending champions, protected by Joe Hart have conceded the least amount of goals. What it does show is that Begovic and Stoke have performed exceptionally well defensively. Stoke have faced up against: Arsenal, Man City, Chelsea, Liverpool, Man Utd and Newcastle. That’s six of last years top eight, three of which were away from home, with that in mind it is even more impressive.
All credit to Jussi Jääskeläinen, pulling off 64 saves is quite something. Having said that, he has clearly had more saves to make. What is a surprise is that Cech has been forced to make more saves than Begovic, suggesting that the Chelsea back-line is not what it once was. Everton have been a top side for for some time now but their defensive frailties have seen them drop a number of points, especially this season. Begovic has made some outstanding saves this season and has kept Stoke in a number of games. One notable mistake came against Newcastle, yet he showed his resilience by pulling off two excellent saves late on to deny Papiss Cisse.
Begovic performed superbly here with almost double the amount of catches from crosses than Cech. With Stoke’s height throughout the squad and specifically the defence, you could be forgiven for thinking that teams would be deterred from crossing the ball so much. Even though teams have fired plenty of crosses into the penalty area Begovic has shown himself to be a dominant and imposing figure, an invaluable asset as a goalkeeper.
Is Begovic the best GK in the league?
The original question posed at the beginning of the article; is Asmir Begovic the best goalkeeper in the Premier League? Is he even one of the best?
I believe that over the last twelve months Begovic has not only cemented his place in the Stoke line-up, but also amongst the top three goalkeepers in the Premier League along with Joe Hart and Petr Cech. Why else would he be targeted by the country’s top clubs?
What is certain is that Stoke will have their work cut out to keep another one of their prized assets; if one of the “big boys” offers a bumper sum, will they sell? They don’t need to sell, but at some point in the near future on of the “crown jewels” will be sold, it is unfortunately inevitable.
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