As happens every year, 3 new teams have been promoted from the Championship to join England’s elite in the Premier League.
Often, what ensues is a merry go round of players as each team tries to strengthen to ensure their survival for the season ahead! One of the most common positions that sees a lot of change during this merry go round is between the sticks as promoted clubs look for a goalkeeper with ‘Premiership experience’ to help them in their quest for survival.
So, with three new clubs joining the Premier League, we thought we’d take a look at the Keepers who helped get them there and whether or not we think they’ll still be the number 1 goalkeeper at the start of the Premier League season.
Firstly, let’s look at 2016/17 Championship winners Newcastle United! Bouncing straight back from being relegated the season before, they return to the Premier League with the same goalkeepers at their disposal as when they were relegated and have a few options they could turn to.
31-year-old – Irish international, Rob Elliot stands at 6ft 3 and has over 8 seasons of Premier League football experience, although generally as a back-up goalkeeper, having only made 36 Premier League appearances during that time with Newcastle United and Charlton Athletic.
In Newcastle’s last season in the Premier League, Elliot was backup to Tim Krul in their slump near the bottom of the table, but with Krul and fellow keeper Darlow injured Elliot came in and kept consecutive clean sheets against Stoke City and Bournemouth earning himself a man of the match award and Newcastle their first consecutive clean sheet for two years!
With everything looking like it was looking bright for Elliot, a cruel ACL injury on the 29th of March 2016 ruled him out for 6 months, ruining his hopes for a place at Euro 2016 and costing him his number 1 shirt for Newcastle at the start of their 16/17 Championship season with Darlow taking over at the helm.
26-year old, 6ft 1 stopper, Karl Darlow had already experienced the delights of the Championship spending 4 years with Nottingham Forest prior to joining Newcastle in August 2014. Darlow got his big chance for Newcastle when Krul and Elliot were both injured towards the end of their 15/16 relegation season.
With Krul leaving on loan and Elliot still injured at the start of the 16/17 Championship season, Benitez put his faith in Darlow who took his chance, making 36 appearances for the Magpies to help them win the Championship, but interestingly once Elliot returned to fitness Darlow found himself back on the bench.
Although a fan favourite at Forest and building quite a reputation with the fans at Newcastle last season, Benitez doesn’t seem convinced on Darlow and we’d be surprised if he turned to him as his number 1 for the season ahead, Elliot still appears to be ahead in the pecking order – just!
Tim Krul was previously the number 1 goalkeeper at Newcastle, ahead of both Elliot and Darlow, but a catalogue of injuries and mediocre performances saw him fall down the pecking order and sent back to the Netherlands on loan; firstly, with Ajax and then most recently with AZ, neither loan spell proving particularly successful for the Dutch stopper.
It would be a huge turn around for Krul to return to the squad now and take the number 1 spot having not been with the squad at all during their Championship season.
Verdict: Out of the 3 possible Keepers we can only see Elliot being given the chance to stake a claim for the number 1 shirt for Newcastle this season, however there are already rumours of Benitez looking to bring in a new first choice keeper. Most recently he was linked to Pepe Reina who he has managed before at Liverpool and Napoli, but it remains to be seen if there is any truth to the rumours!
Second place Brighton and Hove Albion’s goalkeeping line-up is a lot more straight forward with only one real contender from the side that missed out on Championship glory on the final day of the season!
31-year old David Stockdale has been first choice keeper for the Seagull’s over the last 3 years and this didn’t change throughout their 16/17 Championship season where he made 45 appearances to help them to second place.The 6ft 3 stopper isn’t new to being in the Premier League haven spent a number of years at Fulham, including being part of the side that got relegated in 13/14 – making 21 league appearances. He’s also a bit of an expert in the Championship, having previously being part of the Hull City side that got promoted to the Premier League in 12/13.
Stockdale who became infamous overnight in April 2017 when he was unfortunate to score two identical own-goals in the same game has already found himself at the centre of rumours surrounding his future, with Chelsea and Leeds United mentioned to be keeping an eye on him and Rob Hamer rumoured to be inbound.
Verdict: We think that Stockdale will leave the club this summer, a switch to hometown Leeds United would look a real option with his promotion experience a real selling point for Leeds. The current rumour with the most promise looks the signing of Maty Ryan from Valencia.
The Australian keeper signed a long-term deal with Valencia but has failed to break into their team and spent the end of last year on loan with Racing Genk. It remains to be seen how the 6ft Australian would fare in the English Premier League and could be a bit of a gamble for the Seagulls should the deal come off.
Playoff winners Huddersfield Town find themselves in potentially the strangest of the 3 positions, their current number 1 goalkeeper Danny Ward joined them on a season long loan from Liverpool in July 2016 helping them to the playoffs before making a number of heroic saves including vital saves in the penalty shoot out to take them into the Premier League.However, after his excellent performances for Huddersfield, Klopp is rumoured to want him back at Anfield next season to challenge Mignolet for the number 1 shirt, with Karius struggling for consistency when called upon last year.
The 6ft 1 stopper had a successful loan spell at Aberdeen before being recalled by Klopp when Liverpool were in the middle of their goalkeeping crisis in early 2016 and then showed real ability in the 16/17 season with Huddersfield.
Verdict: This decision looks like it will end up out of Huddersfield’s hands, I expect to see Ward return to Anfield this summer leaving them with no option but to look to bring in a first-choice keeper for the season ahead unless they can keep Ward for the season ahead which looks unlikely.
Strangely given the situation there seems to be very little in the way of rumours about who Huddersfield might look to bring in to fill the void with only QPR’s Alex Smithies name being mentioned a few times as a potential to return to his boyhood club for the upcoming season.
Overall: We expect to see at least 2 of the clubs swap their starting goalkeeper for the season ahead, with Newcastle looking the most likely to stick with their current options, but even they look keen to bring in a new number 1! Keep an eye out for the transfer news over the next few weeks!