Let’s go back to April 25th, 2010 – my earliest memory of Asmir Begovic as a goalkeeper. He had played for Portsmouth previously but hadn’t caught the eye with anything extraordinary.
On the date mentioned above, we beat Stoke City 7-0 at Stamford Bridge, with Begovic coming on for Thomas Sorensen after the second goal. He was helpless as some uncharacteristically shambolic defending by the Potters saw us run riot. But he still produced some smart saves, in particular, one from Florent Malouda where he denied the Frenchman from close range with a stunning low dive to his right.
Before too long, he had replaced Sorensen as the first-choice and continued to grow in stature with every passing season. He has been one of the most consistent keepers in the top-flight in the last 5 years, and it is no surprise that several top clubs like Manchester United and Liverpool were interested in him not too long ago.
But just like several other occasions in the last couple of seasons, we’ve clinically fended off other clubs and got what we wanted. Begovic signed a four-year deal with us last week for £8 million. With Petr Cech leaving for Arsenal, it has been seen by most fans as the ideal replacement.
It is widely assumed, and correctly so, that Begovic will play the role of understudy to Thibaut Courtois. He will get his playing time, in the Cup competitions and probably in the Champions League as well if things go according to plan.
Keeping Tibo honest
The most important implication of signing Begovic though is that Courtois will constantly be on his heels. There will be no room for complacency for the Belgian, as he will know that Begovic will be ready to pounce on any lackluster performances. It is a situation similar to last season’s, where Cech was waiting in the wings. The only difference is, Begovic will be more willing to do the waiting.
The 6 foot 6 inch Bosnia-Herzegovina international is being good enough at the moment to be our first-choice in the Premier League. Being a star at a mid-table club is one thing, but performing for a club gunning for the title is a different ball-game altogether. He made a horrible error to gift us the winner at Stamford Bridge in March. While that was forgotten before too long at the Britannia, a similar mistake in Chelsea’s colors will be scrutinized and criticized for months and months. Having said that, working with Courtois will only improve Begovic as a player.
Therefore, while it is extremely unlikely that Begovic replaces his 23-year-old teammate in the first-team right from the off, his presence will keep Courtois wary all the time. This, in turn, will help both keepers perform to the best of their potentials.
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Edited By: Karan Dubey
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