Two English goalkeepers started Champions League matches this week – England’s number 1 Joe Hart for Manchester City and Celtic’s Fraser Forster. Although both of their sides ultimately lost to two of the favoured sides in the competition, Forster impressed with Hart conceding due to personal errors. It has led to questions whether their contrasting fortunes will lead to a change in goal in Roy Hodgson’s starting XI.
Hart has 35 England caps to date, taking over as his country’s number 1 after the 2010 World Cup. He has had little competition for the jersey since, with his current usual understudies – Forster and John Ruddy – combining for just one international cap. Heading into the final set of matches in the qualification stages, however, the ever conservative Roy Hodgson has confirmed that Hart will not be replaced at this stage:
“Goalkeepers are always in the firing line when it comes to criticism. I believe Joe will shrug this off. He’s never let me down.”
However, Joe Hart’s error total has continued to rise between the Premier League and Champions League, already committing more errors this season that have led to goals than he did over the 2009/10 season to 2011/12 season combined:
Joe Hart Errors 2009/10-Present
Errors Leading To Goals
Errors Leading To Shots (Excluding Goals)
Since the start of last season, only two goalkeepers across Europe’s top divisions have made more errors domestically than Joe Hart’s 6 that have led to goals – with the dubious honour of Europe’s most error prone goalkeeper going to Toulouse’s Ali Ahamada (8) followed by Kossi Agassa (7) of Reims. Goalkeepers are in the unfortunate position where an error would likely lead to a goal with around two-thirds of errors leading to goals, as keepers have made 85 errors that have led to goals compared to 43 that led to shots in the Premier League over this period.
With Hart also struggling against Bayern Munich in the Champions League following Fraser Forster’s impressive performance against Barcelona the night prior, his ability to retain the number one jersey for both club and country comes under the spotlight.
Forster’s career started with Newcastle United, although the 25-year-old failed to make an appearance for the club. He impressed during loan spells with Stockport County, Bristol Rovers, Norwich and Celtic (twice) before making his move to Glasgow permanent in June 2012 for a fee in the region of £2 million. Domestically, Forster has conceded 0.70 goals per match while keeping 59 clean sheets for the club since his initial loan spell in August 2010, with a save percentage of 80.9% between 2010/11 and 2012/13. In comparison, Hart has conceded 0.85 goals per match in the Premier League over the same spell with a save percentage of 74.4%; however Hart faced superior competition over that spell – with the Premier League also averaging more goals per match (2.77) in comparison to the SPL (2.63).