5 Facts about Tottenham target, Hugo Lloris


Based on the form of the season gone by, there’s no urgent need for Tottenham to replace Brad Friedel. But obviously his ability to remain the Peter Pan of the Premier League will eventually come to an end and strong reports have circulated about Tottenham signing Hugo Lloris as the long-term replacement for the American.

Lloris is said to be keen on the move, with some reports claiming he has agreed personal terms. The sticking point is said to be Lyon’s colourful president, Jean Michel Aulas, who is said to be demanding €20 million, €5 million more than Spurs have reportedly offered.

It remains to be seen if the deal will be completed’ but the Frenchman is clearly a young man of uncommon maturity and ability. Here are five facts you might not have known about Hugo Lloris.

#1 During his time with Lyon, Lloris’s longest spell without conceding a goal last for 558 minutes. A run of five consecutive clean sheets came to an end when Cristiano Ronaldo put a goal past him in for Real Madrid in a Champions League tie.

#2 When Lloris first signed for Lyon from Nice in 2008, he went five games and 483 minutes (one of the games went to extra time and penalties) before conceding his first goal for his new club.

#3 The Nice native has been voted Ligue 1 Goalkeeper of the Season on three ocassions. His first accolade came in at the end of the 2008/09 season and his most recent came in the season just passed.

#4 Before joining Lyon, Lloris was on the verge of joining AC Milan. With terms agreed, the deal collapsed as Christain Abbiati refused a proposed move to Palermo.

#5 Lloris earned his first cap for France against Uruguay in November 2008 and almost exactly two years later was appointed captain for the first time as Les Bleus faced England at Wembley.


Paul Robinson will be on his way from Blackburn

It’s a new era that nobody really wanted at Wolves, Blackburn and Bolton. Shaka looks at what the future may hold for the 1st choice goalkeepers of the three teams heading down to the Championship

Paul Robinson – likely to leave Ewood Park

When a team go down, it’s like a shipwreck on the rocks. It doesn’t take long before the scavengers descend looking to grab what they can. But I get the feeling there won’t be too much of a clamour for the goalkeepers that were part the teams that went down. That’s not to say they’re not Premier League standard goalkeepers, but for the most part, the teams in the top flight have their starting goalkeepers in order and there aren’t many who’ll desperately be looking for an upgrade.

Wayne Hennessey’s season ended with injury to add to the insult of relegation, but I think he’ll probably still be at Wolves when he recovers. He’s a good young keeper, but I suspect the teams in the Premier League are well represented with starting goalkeepers and he hasn’t done enough to overtake any of the current first choices. If he goes, it’ll be most likely as back-up and I think he’d rather stay at Wolves than spend the season warming the bench somewhere.

Paul Robinson is a different story, mainly because he’s at a very different stage in his career. He’s 33 later this year and he needs to be playing regularly. I’m not sure too many of the current Premier League teams will be after him as a first choice, but the teams coming up from the Championship may see his experience as being attractive for next season.

He’s a had a strange career. He was a highly rated young keeper for a long time, but he’s never quite delivered on his potential. I think he’ll leave Blackburn, but I’ve no idea of the destination. He has worked with Sam Allardyce in the past, but would he be a big improvement on Robert Green? There’s not much between the two in my opinion. He’d provide decent back-up and competition in most Premier League squads, but it’s hard to know who’ll actually make the move.

I can’t see anyone taking a gamble on Adam Bogdan. I’d imagine he’ll being staying put with Bolton. He had a tricky start to his run of games in this season’s Premier League, but responded very well. He’s a good goalkeeper, but again the question is ‘who is desperately in need of a goalie?’ and the answer is no-one in the Premier League. Maybe a Premier League team will look at him as a back-up, but I can’t see too many teams rushing to sign him up. A season of playing regularly in the Championship could actually be perfect for his development, so maybe he shouldn’t be looking to move on.

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Almunia to end an eventful eight years with Arsenal

Manuel Almunia

At the end of the season, the curtain will quietly come down on one of the most infuriating careers in the history of Arsenal Football Club. It’s an event that will pass most football fans and countless Gooners by. Manuel Almunia will leave the club. His departure will be one tinged with ambivalence. During his eight years in North London, the Pamplona native aided the cause enough to be applauded, but equally throw enough occasional spanners in the works to be wished a good riddance.

When Arsene’s suspect record in identifying top class keepers is brought up, Almunia is often a common stick used to beat him. There were too many moments of brilliance for it to be a mistake of recognising talent. He came from Celta Vigo unheralded and inexpensively. He provided cover Jens Lehmann initially and chances eventually came his way, most notably and unexpectedly when Lehmann got sent of in the 2006 Champions League final against Barcelona. In his performances, it was evident talent was there, but although some of Wenger’s outfield bargain buys could cover up their shortcomings amidst the team effort, Almunia had no hiding place.

If Wenger was guilty of anything, it was probably keeping the faith for too long. Almunia got second, third, fourth chances and far beyond. So much so that the position seemed to become a blind spot for Wenger the like of which rivaled only his immense capacity not to be looking when one of his players was involved in a controversial incident. With a young Arsenal side finding its way, Wenger seemed content to stick with Almunia, even if it cost a few points here and there.

The Good And The Bad of Almunia

The range of mistakes added to the frustration. It wasn’t as if there was one major flaw in his game that could be worked on and eventually cured. At times it was poor handling, at others it was suspect positioning and it was always interspersed with questionable decision-making. All things considered, it suggests that Almunia’s major issue wasn’t technical, it was more mental. He seemed to lack focus at key moments and it hurt the team.

But there were good times and that’s where the mixed feelings come into play. There were occasions when the Spaniard showed immense athleticism and reactions to pull off some remarkable saves. Two Champions League ties with Barcelona were amongst the better days. He was immense in the 2-2 draw in March of 2010, but possibly even better at the Camp Nou in 2011 when he came on from the bench to replace the injured Szczesny and produced some vital saves to give Arsenal a great chance of claiming an unlikely win.

Let’s not forget that there was once a clamour for him to do the necessary paperwork to become England’s first choice. Although just how much of an endorsement that is will depend on how highly you rate the likes of David James, Paul Robinson and Scott Carson.

The start of a long goodbye came in the early stages of the 2010/11 season in a game with West Brom at the Emirates. After a characteristically patchy first half in which he gave away a penalty and then saved the resulting spot-kick, he had a miserable second half. He fumbled badly to hand the Baggies their second goal and then rushed out of his goal like a manic comedy fireman attempting to put out a miniscule inferno resulting in gifting the visitors the goal that proved to be the winner. Since then it’s largely been Szczesny and Fabianski vying for the start, with the Spaniard an under-used third choice.

Mixed up with the good and the bad came a bizarre feud with Jens Lehmann. The Spaniard wasn’t the first person to ruffle Lehmann’s feathers and he won’t be the last. It kicked off when Wenger dropped the German during the 2007/08. Lehmann was angry and let his manager know about it via the German media. He also took aim at Almunia, who looked to be guilty of little other than being in better form than his rivals, declaring “Almunia has not yet shown he can win matches for us.” In response, Almunia was pragmatic and somewhat dismayed. “To have someone here who hates me is just amazing. Every morning I wake up I know it is going to be the same. But I don’t care any more. I come into training and work with Łukasz Fabiański and Vito Mannone. They are better than him anyway,” he responded at a later date.

He hits the highway after eight years and 175 appearances for the club. His stint runs roughly parallel with the monkey on Arsene’s back that is the long trophy drought. He’s far from the only reason for the trophyless spell, but his departure will be welcomed, if only for the fact it represents much sought after progress in the goalkeeping ranks. He still qualifies for English citizenship by the way.

Hart’s experience will be vital for Manchester City

Joe Hart

A Manchester Derby is enough to shred the nerves when there’s little but bragging rights up for grabs. With a Premier League title on the line, it’s going to be a thousand times worse. Fine margins are likely to decide the outcome and quite possibly, whether it’s blue or red ribbons getting tied to the trophy at some point in the next couple of weeks.

The goalkeepers of both sides endured vastly differing paths to this titanic tussle. How they handle the scrutiny will go a long way to deciding the outcome of the game. Back in October, David De Gea earned the dubious accolade of becoming the first goalkeeper since 1926 to concede six goals in a single Manchester Derby. Both he and his team-mates have come a long way since that low ebb. On the other hand, a City team that looked destined to romp their way to their first top flight title since 1968 found it’s rarely that easy. We’re set for arguably the biggest derby since the fixture began 131 years ago.

David De Gea has had an eventful season. I said all along that there was something missing. He still lacked experience and that really showed early on. What has surprised me is how well he has come on, especially since Manchester United’s Champions League exit. He’s playing his best football at the right time of the season, but this is the biggest test he has faced this year. In many ways, he’s been United’s best player over the last few months, certainly in terms of consistency. It’s been a real pleasure to seem him grow into the role and there’s more to come from him.

Joe Hart’s ascent to the Manchester City first team has been the polar opposite to De Gea. He’s been pretty much excellent from day one and he continues to get better and better. The one thing that stood out for me earlier in the season was the maturity he played with. It’s rare you see it to that level in a 25 year old. Every time I look at him, he exudes confidence. That’s remarkable considering it’s really only his second full season with City.

How each of them handles the pressure is going to have a big bearing on how the derby goes. Given the consistency of Hart and the troubles De Gea had in the first few months of the season, it’s going to be more of an issue for the United keeper. He’s come back into form, but I feel it’s going to be a bigger factor for him. As good as he’s been, he’s only ever one mistake away from the media and the critics jumping down his throat once again. To put it into context, because of how good he has been, if Joe Hart was to make one big, high profile mistake in a game like this, people will still consider him, if not the best, then one of the best goalkeepers in the Premier League. He’s got a level of comfort that De Gea doesn’t and that has to have an effect.

Having said that, I’ve spoken to several people who worked with and watched De Gea coming up through the ranks in Spain and they repeatedly said he’s a player who doesn’t let big games and big situations get to him. He’s very balanced and he stays on an even keel. Playing with Manchester United in a game like this is going to test that to the maximum.

As a game, it’s a very tough call. Sir Alex Ferguson has been in similar situations so many times, you just get the feeling they’ll get the draw they need. My prediction is for a score draw.

Manuel Neuer is the world’s best

Manuel Neuer

There’s many different ways of deciding who is the best goalkeeper in the world. Some value current form over long term reliability, whilst others are prepared to keep the faith for much longer. I try to do both and with that in mind here’s my Goalkeeper World Rankings for April.

1. Manuel Neuer (Bayern Munich and Germany)
It’s a simple pick right now. He’s been excellent since arriving in Bayern Munich and his performance on Wednesday night against Real Madrid highlighted his development. He made some excellent penalty saves, but it was his leadership and authority that was most encouraging for me. His ability has always been obvious, but now he’s got the experience to know when to take command of situations and when to take a step back, he’s reaching his potential.

2. Iker Casillas (Real Madrid and Spain)
I’m a big believer in Iker Casillas. He was a little bit shaky by his high standards on Wednesday night in the Champions League semi-final, but he still saved a penalty in the shoot-out and made some important interventions in open play. As ever, when he makes a mistake or doesn’t get something quite right, he bounces right back up and it rarely costs his team a goal.

3. Gigi Buffon (Juventus and Italy)
Buffon has been one of my favourites for a long time and given how Juventus are doing in this season’s Serie A, he has to be included. They’ve the league’s best defensive record, conceding just 18 goals in 35 games. It’s not all down to Gigi, but he’s certainly played his part. After injury trouble in the last couple of years, it’s great to see the agility is still there and the reflexes, calmness and leadership make him one of the world’s best.

4. Joe Hart (Manchester City and England)
It’s been a great year for goalkeepers in the Premier League, but I still rate Hart as the best all-rounder. He was voted in as the goalkeeper in the PFA Premier League Team of the Season and I wouldn’t argue with that. He’s incredibly mature and he’s improved his decision-making considerably over the last twelve months or so.

5. Hugo Lloris (Lyon and France)
It’s been another difficult season for Lyon, but Lloris comes out of it with big credit. Agile, ultra-reliable and still young, I’m a big fan and there’s more to come. Every time summer rolls around, the speculation liking him with a move somewhere seems as common as the smell of barbecues. Spurs are reportedly looking at him as a replacement for Brad Friedel and he’d be a great addition to the Premier League. Wherever he heads, I’m sure he’s destined to be an even bigger star than he is now.

After the couple of weeks Chelsea have had, it’s impossible not to give Petr Cech a mention. He had to be immense if Chelsea were to have any chance of ousting Barcelona and he delivered big time. He’s definitely on the fringes of my list.

In his first full season as Arsenal’s #1 Wojciech Szczęsny has proven himself as reliable, unflappable and truly world-class. Second in the PL behind Hart in my opinion, it’ll be great to see how those two develop over the coming years.

It was also hard to leave out Michel Vorm. He’s had a fantastic season for Swansea although he won’t be happy with conceding four against Wolves over the weekend. He’s got top class reflexes and he’s amazingly agile. He’s definitely one of the best in the Premier League this season.

Ali Al Habsi has had a fantastic season for Wigan too. He made one absolutely world class save against Arsenal and those contributions are crucial for a team like Wigan. If that goes in, Arsenal probably come back and win the game and all of sudden there’s no amazing run of results and they’re going down. He’s been doing things like that all season and he deserves an honourable mention.

I’ve also been impressed by Kiko Casilla for Espanyol. He’s made a few mistakes lately and he get dropped, which set him back. He’s still some way from being in my top five, but he looks like he’s heading in the right direction and I look forward to seeing how he develops next season.

PRESS RELEASE: The launch of Shaka Hislop’s Ministry of Glove

Today sees the launch of Shaka Hislop’s Ministry of Glove.

The former Newcastle, West Ham and Trinidad and Tobago goalkeeper and current ESPN pundit has become proprietor of the popular goalkeeping website and will use it to express his views on goalkeeping and wider issues within the world of football.

The website was launched in 2010 and has become a popular destination for fans of the custodian and football in general. The new partnership will see the website become known as Shaka Hislop’s Ministry Of Glove and will continue to bring quality goalkeeping opinion and analysis to a wide audience.

Shaka Hislop, the resident goalkeeping expert on the ESPN PressPass panel, says the website will give him more opportunity to express his opinions on goalkeeping. “Shaka Hislop’s Ministry of Glove is a great opportunity for me to expand on some of the points I make in the programme and address other issues I don’t get around to discussing in the studio,” he explained.

Aidan Elder, managing editor of the site says “I’m delighted that Shaka has come on board with the project and I’m looking forward to working with him. He was a personal hero of mine as a player and as a pundit he has shown intelligence and courage in his analysis.”

Despite developing a reputation as being a staunch defender of goalkeepers subjected to harsh criticism in the media, Shaka maintains the website will continue to analyse with balance. “It isn’t all about standing up for goalies. There are plenty of times when criticism is justified. I want to make sure what is being criticised is fair and proportional to the supposed error!”

For more information, contact the website’s managing editor at aidan.elder@gmail.com or on Twitter at @MinistryOfGlove


Szczesny of Arsenal voted goalkeeper of the season

Wojciech Szczesny

Readers of ministryofglove.com have voted Arsenal goalkeeper, Wojciech Szczesny as the Premier League goalkeeper of the season. Szczesny (21) earned 35 per cent of the votes, David De Gea of Manchester United came second on 29 per cent with Michel Vorm of Swansea back in third on 11 per cent.

The young Pole’s natural ability has been apparent since his loan spell with Brentford in the 2009/10. When he finally made his Premier League debut for Arsenal against Manchester United at Old Trafford in December of 2010, he was a better keeper again from his time at Griffin Park, but not without his flaws. He experienced his ups and downs. In February of 2011, against Barcelona in the first leg of Champions League Last 16 at the Emirates, he pulled off a string of excellent saves to keep the Gunners in the tie and incredibly, lay the foundations for an unlikely win on the night. He received undue criticism for his role in the goal that handed Birmingham the Carling Cup later in the month, but in general, his performances suggested he still had some growing to do.

Thankfully, that growing up has happened remarkably fast. I don’t know how he spent the summer of 2011, but when he returned to the Emirates Stadium in August, he looked a bigger, more composed and authoritative figure. Previously he had the tendency to get involved when he didn’t need to – both on and off the pitch – but that feistiness has by and large been curbed and channeled into the more productive direction of leadership.

As a sign of his emerging influence at the club, it’s notable how many times he has been the one chosen for media duties, both in the build-up and after Arsenal matches. Despite only turning 22 years of age this coming Wednesday, he feels like one of Arsenal’s senior players and the role suits the more mature Szczesny perfectly. He comes across as focussed, but level-headed individual.

In this campaign he has been brilliant. Even as Arsenal stumbled their way through the early part of the season, he was excellent, making saves that eked out points for his team and stopped the club’s morale from being annihilated entirely. When Robin Van Persie clicked into gear, Arsenal’s season got up and running, but the good form of Szczesny was what ensured his goals went towards victories rather than smaller – or no – returns.

Szczesny has been brilliant this season and the underrated factor in Arsenal’s resurgence. With youth on his side, he has the time and capacity to develop further. If he gets a slice of good luck and good health, he has the potential to become an Arsenal and Premier League legend.

David De Gea was voted into second place on the poll. The Spaniard certainly has claims to the comeback of the season. His Old Trafford obituaries when being written after a poor adaptation to life in the Premier League, but since Christmas, his form has improved markedly and been crucial in forging the five point advantage United currently enjoy at the top of the table. He now cuts a more confident and comfortable figure than the forlorn young man in the glare of a critical spotlight a few months back. To draw what may in time prove to be an apt parallel, Sir Alex Ferguson wasn’t overly effusive about Peter Schmeichel’s first season at Old Trafford and that worked out pretty well for all concerned. It’s premature, but with more learning to do, De Gea has shown he has the potential to have a long and successful career at the Theatre of Dreams.

Brendan Rodgers purchase of Michel Vorm was arguably the best bit of business conducted in the Premier League this season. He made his debut in the Swans 4-0 thumping at the hands of Manchester City, but the Dutchman came away from the game with immense credit. The stats say he made 11 saves that night and it’s hard to overstate how important those saves where. Had he made only five or six of those saves and Swansea went on to lose 8-0 or 9-0, immediately the squad would have doubted their ability to compete in the Premier League and almost certainly would not have enjoyed the season of free-flowing football they did. He came up big at crucial times several times during the campaign and Rodgers next managerial trick will be keeping him away from the grasp of clubs with more financial clout than the Swans.

The results in full

Szczesny (Arsenal) – 35.38%
De Gea (Man Utd) – 28.72%
Vorm (Swansea) – 10.77%
Krul (Newcastle) – 8.46%
Friedel (Tottenham) – 7.44%
Hart (Man City) – 5.38%
Al Habsi (Wigan) – 2.82%
Ruddy (Norwich) – 1.03%