The Race for the Golden Glove: Can Courtois win it?

Chelsea is just a win away from their first Premier League title in 5 years. In the meantime, Eden Hazard has already been named the PFA Player of the Year.

Besides, he is also the favourite to win the FWA Player of the Year award. All this while Chelsea have been heavily represented in the PFA Team of the Year, with six players in the distinguished list. At the start of the season, Diego Costa was the favourite to land the Golden Boot, but absences due to injuries and suspensions have reduced his chances.

Although he is just two goals behind leader Sergio Aguero and one behind Harry Kane, and still has a fair chance, should he feature in the remaining matches. Another Chelsea superstar, who is in contention for another award, is 22-year old Thibaut Courtois.

Courtois has kept 11 clean sheets this season, which is just two behind leading candidate Simon Mignolet, and one better than PFA Team of the Year’s goalkeeper David de Gea. One might add that the Spain-man has played 5 more matches than Courtois. With 1.97 saves per game, his form has impressed many, including Spurs keeper and former American International Brad Friedel. Brad said:

“Every goalkeeper has their outstanding attribute. You go to Courtois on crosses. I have not seen a goalkeeper better on crosses in a long, long time than Courtois. De Gea and Hugo are a little bit more similar, their reactions are out of this world.” Source – HITC

Let us take a look at the top 5 candidates for the Golden Glove award, including Thibaut Courtois and analyse their chances of getting the award, based on the teams they face in the remaining matches.

1. Simon Mignolet

Current standing – Joint 1st with 13 clean sheets from 31 appearances.

Teams to face:

QPR(H) – Although QPR strikers Charlie Austin and Bobby Zamora were unable to score in their last 2 matches at home, defensive frailties and a drop in form on Liverpool’s side might just give QPR a sniff.

QPR will know that this might be their last chance to put up one last fight to avoid relegation. Mignolet might not keep a clean sheet here.

Chelsea(A) – By the time Liverpool visit Stamford Bridge, Chelsea will, in all probability, have wrapped up the title. And keeping a clean sheet at Stamford Bridge is next to impossible, with the champions elect scoring in 32 of the 34 matches this season. We don’t see a clean sheet here. In fact, Mignolet will be lucky if he does not allow multiple goals.

Crystal Palace(H) – Last season’s heartbreaking 3-3 draw against Palace ended Liverpool’s chances of winning the title. While this season’s match will bear no such consequences, it will be a tough match for both the sides. With Palace scoring 3 in the reverse fixture, it will be difficult for Mignolet to keep a clean sheet at home too. He will concede.

Stoke City(A) – Away to Stoke is always a tough match, no matter what the position, and with Charlie Adam in such fine scoring form, it is hard to see them not scoring. Again, Mignolet might concede.

Final Verdict: Joint winner with 13 clean sheets

2. Thibaut Courtois

Current Standing – Joint 2nd with 11 clean sheets from 29 appearances.

Teams to face:

Crystal Palace(H) – Chelsea will win the league if they beat Crystal Palace at home, and that means the champions elect will put in a fine resolute performance. With a fine defensive record at home, where they have kept 10 clean sheets, scoring a goal for Palace will be a tough ask. Courtois will keep a clean sheet here.

Liverpool(H) – Though Chelsea have a very good record against Liverpool (undefeated in their last 4 encounters including 2 wins), Liverpool do have a good scoring record at Stamford Bridge, scoring in their last 4 visits in the league. Liverpool does somehow score at the Bridge, so no clean sheet.

West Bromwich Albion(A) – Chelsea have found it difficult to get a result at the Hawthorns in recent seasons, but with the title already in the bag by then, it is hard to see a confident Chelsea side making any defensive mistakes. So Courtois may have a clean sheet.

Sunderland(H) – Last day of the season, champions already, the Bridge will be booming with celebration. Any team has a tough time getting a result here, but in such a situation, complacency might set in, and relegation-threatened Sunderland fighting for their lives will somehow find the net. So no clean sheet.

Final Verdict: Joint winner with 13 clean sheets

3. Lukasz Fabianski

Current Standing – Joint 2nd with 11 clean sheets from 33 appearances.

Teams to face:

Stoke City(H) – Stoke City have had Charlie Adam in red-hot scoring form while Swansea have not kept a clean sheet in their last 4 matches. Fabianski will have a tough time keeping a clean sheet, but he may well just do it.

Arsenal(A) – This will be a very very tough match, traveling to the Emirates to face an in-form Arsenal, who will be eager to hold on to 2nd spot. Olivier Giroud, Alexis Sanchez and Cazorla have turned on the style in recent matches, and there is no way Fabianski will keep a clean sheet here.

Manchester City(H) – Although City have lost all of their form in the past few weeks, losing important matches and dropping crucial points at large, they have always managed to score, and with Aguero trying to make sure of the Golden Boot, it will be difficult to keep a clean sheet. So, Lukasz will concede.

Crystal Palace(A) – Crystal Palace is a tough team to face away, and with players like Jedinak, Gayle and Murray, keeping a clean sheet will be a tough ask. Palace will find the net.

Final Verdict: Joint 2nd with 12 clean sheets

4. Joe Hart

Current Standing – Joint 2nd with 11 clean sheets from 32 appearances.

Teams to face:

Spurs(A) – Tottenham vs. City is typically a high scoring fixture, with 21 goals scored between them in the last four matches, and thus Hart will not be able to keep a clean sheet.

QPR(H) – QPR will have a tough time at the Etihad, but a last ditch relegation fight might spur striker Charlie Austin to score. So no clean sheet again.

Swansea(A) – Away to Swansea produced a 5 goal thriller last season, with Bony scoring both Swansea goals in Swansea’s 3-2 loss. However, Bony is a City player now, and so Swansea will have a tough time unlocking City’s defence. So a clean sheet looks likely for Hart.

Southampton(H) – The Saints have an impressive record away to two top sides this season, with a win at Old Trafford, and a draw against Chelsea. In the bid to qualify for the Europa League, they might take advantage of City’s recent defensive shortcomings. So no clean sheet.

Final Verdict: Joint 2nd with 12 clean sheets.

5. David de Gea

Current standing – 3rd with 10 clean sheets from 34 appearances.

Teams to face:

West Bromwich Albion(H) – West Brom will find it very difficult to score at Old Trafford, considering United have a very good home record. It will also be a tough battle between the likes of Berahino and de Gea, but the Spanish is likely to come out on top. He will get a clean sheet.

Crystal Palace(A) – Away to Crystal Palace is a difficult place to go, and the fact that they haven’t scored in their last 2 home matches, it will be all the more reason for their under fire strikers to go find the net. Also, United’s defence looks to be all over the place at the moment, as seen against Everton. So no clean sheet for De Gea here.

Arsenal(H) – Arsenal have been the most revived team recently, winning 8 of their last nine league matches, with the solitary draw coming against Chelsea. They have already come to Old Trafford and ousted United from the FA Cup this season, and so it is hard to see de Gea keeping a clean sheet against the Gunners. So he will concede.

Hull City(A) – Last day of the season, and while a Champions League spot will be all but secured for United, Hull City might still be entangled in a relegation fight. Moreover, the Tigers are quite strong at home, and keeping a clean sheet in a situation like this will be difficult. So no clean sheet.

Final Verdict: 3rd with 11 clean sheets

It was interesting to see David de Gea getting selected as the goalkeeper of the PFA Team of the Year despite other players being ahead of him in terms of clean sheets from lesser appearances.

However, I feel Mignolet and Thibaut Courtois will be jointly awarded the Golden Glove award at the end of the season. It is also important to note that if all of the candidates play the rest of the matches, Courtois will still have the lowest appearances, clearly depicting his ability, that too in his first ever season in the Premier League.

So even if the golden glove goes away from the Bridge this season, it bodes well for the seasons to come. And, one more thing, Good Luck, Clean Sheet Pete, the greatest Premier League goalkeeper in the history.

**Fraiser Forster is currently joint 1st with 13 clean sheets but has been ruled out for the rest of the season because of a knee injury.

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Edited By: Ojas

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