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Everton English Premier League Season Preview: Goalkeepers

Jordan Pickford could be Everton’s no.1 for a very, very long time

KRC Genk v Everton: Pre-Season Friendly Photo by Andy Astfalck/Getty Images

Stats

Goalkeepers

Player Age Games Clean sheets Goals conceded Saves Errors leading to goal Own goal
Player Age Games Clean sheets Goals conceded Saves Errors leading to goal Own goal
Robles 27 20 10 20 54 0 0
Stekelenburg 34 19 3 24 42 3 1
Pickford 23 29 4 50 135 3 0
2016-17 Premier League season

I don’t think it’s any coincidence that manager Ronald Koeman’s first summer signing was a goalkeeper.

Everton moved swiftly to secure the £30m capture of Jordan Pickford from Sunderland in June, sending a delegation out to the U21 Championships in Poland to get the deal done ahead of any potential rivals.

Prior to Pickford’s arrival Everton’s number one position was in a state of flux. Tim Howard arguably stayed two seasons too long, Joel Robles struggled for consistency while Maarten Stekelenburg was only ever going to be a short-term option.

But, if his early performances are anything to go by, Pickford could well occupy the Toffees’ no.1 shirt for years to come.

Current Players

Joel Robles

If speculation is to be believed, Joel Robles will not be an Everton player for much longer. At 27 the Spaniard needs to be playing regular first-team football and the signing of Pickford ends any chance of that happening at Goodison Park.

He will leave with the good wishes of most Evertonians, who appreciated his professional attitude, particularly when spending so much time on the bench.

Brought in as Howard’s understudy by Roberto Martinez in 2013, Robles finally pinned down a first-team spot towards the tail end of the 2015-16 season.

The former Wigan ‘keeper then shared duties with Stekelenburg last campaign, though you always got the impression it was a temporary arrangement.

Robles is capable of making some fantastic saves, but he is also likely to get brain freeze at the most inopportune moments. His command of his area isn’t convincing either, meaning he never appears to have the full faith of his defenders. You got the impression he was never fully trusted by Ronald Koeman.

He’s definitely a better goalkeeper now than he was when he joined. But now is the right time for a parting of the ways.

Joel Robles strengths and weaknesses

Everton goalkeeper Joel Robles is a strong shot-stopper, but his positioning and decision-making can let him down badly at times.

Posted by Royal Blue Mersey on Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Maarten Stekelenburg

Stekelenburg meanwhile was the trusty old warhorse brought in to bolster Koeman’s goalkeeping department at short notice last season.

The Dutchman certainly surprised a few people with a fine debut against Tottenham on the opening day of last season. He also saved two penalties during the 1-1 draw at Manchester City in October.

But (there’s always a but) there were times when his judgement was questioned, with the 5-0 thrashing at Chelsea a standout.

Despite some shaky moments, Stekelenburg was unlucky to lose his place in the side because of injury and wouldn’t return to the team again until April.

At this stage of his career Stekelenburg appears to be content to be a no.2 and given the options out there, we could do a lot worse.

Jordan Pickford

There were more than a few raised eyebrows when Everton made Jordan Pickford the most expensive British goalkeeper of all time in June.

£30m is certainly a lot to pay for a 23-year-old with less than 30 Premier League appearances to his name. But if his early Everton displays are anything to go by, it could prove to be a steal.

Pickford was one the one bright spot for Sunderland in what was a utterly miserable season last year.

Their woeful defence meant he was constantly kept busy and although the Black Cats conceded 50 league goals it would have been considerably more if it wasn’t for their young shotstopper.

What’s impressed Evertonians in their early viewings of Pickford is his dominance of the six yard box. He shows a confidence beyond his years, bawling at his defence while being decisive when coming for the ball.

He isn’t afraid to punch the ball clear if necessary, but whatever he does he does with conviction - making life much easier for the defenders in front of him.

He also has wonderful distribution when kicking off the floor and out of his hands. The laser-like precision of his long passing could be a useful weapon for Everton this season, particularly for pacy front players such as Sandro or Ademola Lookman.

State of the Position

After an unsettled few seasons if finally feels like Everton have an undisputed number one.

Having a solid goalkeeper is the cornerstone to any football team and it’s no coincidence two of Everton’s most successful eras - the 1960s and 1980s - coincided with the careers of two long-serving goalkeepers.

Pickford has a long way to go before can be considered alongside Neville Southall and Gordon West, but he certainly has the potential.

Veteran Stekelenburg looks to be the ideal no.2, ready to step in and do a reliable job if necessary.

Koeman has previously expressed his desire to have three senior goalkeepers at the club so with Robles on the move a replacement is needed.

That is likely to be Vitesse Arnhem ‘keeper Eloy Room, who has been heavily linked with a move to Merseyside this summer.

That would leave Everton pretty well stocked in the goalkeeping department, baring the most severe of injury crisis.