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Everton Season Preview: Goalkeepers

Thank God for Jordan Pickford.

Stats:

2017-18 Everton Goalkeepers

Player Minutes Clean Sheets Goals Conceded
Player Minutes Clean Sheets Goals Conceded
Jordan Pickford 4140 12 70
Maarten Stekelenburg 270 2 3
Mateusz Hewelt n/a n/a n/a

Current Players:

Jordan Pickford:

Everton #1, England #1, World Cup Hero. The list of accolades is only going to grow for the young Everton goalkeeper. This year is all about showing consistency. Pickford has had an excellent career as a professional over the last two years, but now everyone knows how talented he is and there is going to be a lot of pressure to perform. The expectation is that Pickford is going to meet the challenge, but it will be important to remember that every mistake is not the end of the world.

Right now we know Pickford is going to be a great shotstopper. Ignore what you hear from guys like Allardyce and Courtois. Pickford has the height needed and more importantly he has the agility needed to stop shots. Height may save you if you get old or get slow, but agility is the real thing any quality keeper needs. It also helps that Pickford has shown an excellent ability to judge crosses and isn’t a bumbling baboon with them. It all provides an excellent foundation for a world-class goalkeeper, but there is room for improvement.

Personally I’m looking for Pickford to improve in his distribution. Yes, Pickford hits a beautiful ball up the field, but he can be pretty inconsistent with it. There were a lot of missed opportunities because the ball flies out of touch or 30 yards beyond the top striker. I want to see more consistency out of Pickford on those balls.

West Ham United v Everton - Premier League Photo by Steve Bardens/Getty Images

Pickford also needs to read the game situation a little better when distributing the ball. There was a tendency last year to play too quickly or too slowly relative to the rest of the team. Yes, it is possible Pickford was following the manager’s instructions and the rest of the team wasn’t, but a quick distribution to players who aren’t ready can be disastrous. Most of Pickford’s improvement going forward is going to come from improvement in these areas since his shot stopping is already great.

The next step for Pickford is going to be turning into a leader in the box. He has no problems yelling or directing players, but as he gets more experience with this group he needs to lead them, not just yell. It is one part of a goalkeeper’s repitoire that requires experience so it isn’t a knock so much as it is something that he’s got to continue to work on. But we’ll always have his anger at Wayne Rooney for making stupid passes in the defensive third to warm our hearts.

Granted all of this assumes Chelsea doesn’t come in and poach Pickford...

Maarten Stekelenburg:

Stekelenburg is... well he’s fine. He can make some great saves, but he doesn’t really command the box and he isn’t an authoritative presence in the box. He’s kind of the perfect fit for a backup keeper on this squad. He seems to enjoy playing for Everton and has enough quality to push Pickford, but not enough to create a goalkeeper controversy. He’s likely going to play a lot of League and FA Cup matches where he’ll do well. It will be interesting to see how he does there given Everton’s recent troubles against inferior opposition.

Bury v Everton - Pre-Season Friendly Photo by Lynne Cameron/Getty Images

Mateusz Hewelt:

We’ve had discussions about the need to bring in a third keeper to replace Robles. And the truth is that Everton doesn’t need another keeper, Hewelt should fill that role. With the number of competitions this year it is unlikely Everton will play more than 2 keepers this year, barring injury. There isn’t a reason to have 3 Premier League-ish keepers in the squad. If we see Hewelt on the team sheet more often expect the club to look for an emergency loan relatively quickly.

Status of the Position:

This may be the healthiest position in the squad. Jordan Pickford is in the running for one of the best goalkeepers in the EPL and still has room to improve. Maarten Stekelenburg is a more than capable backup as well. While we may not want him to be a long term starter should Pickford go down to injury, he’s more than capable for cup ties and the occasional EPL start. Goalkeeper should continue to be a strength for this Everton side.