The 'Sweeper Keeper' came to deserved acclaim at the 2014 World Cup, when Manuel Neuer showcased his ability to rush out of his goal, and "sweep" in behind Germany's high-line, almost playing like another centre-back out of possession. Since then, the role of the sweeper keeper has only grown and evolved, becoming a player who is capable in build-up phases, ventures out of their goal to involve themselves in passing sequences higher up the pitch, and completely commands their penalty area by coming off their line and taking control of any situation.
While formations may exclude the never-changing goalkeepers from their numbering, we could never fail to recognize the importance of goalkeeping in the game. As a result, we start with one of the most scrutinized positions on a football pitch - that of the keeper. We break goalkeepers down into two broad categories - 'Shot Stopper', and 'Sweeper Keeper'. We can then use these classifications to help distinguish between different types of players, and measure accordingly. Today's article is all about the 'Shot Stopper', defining role expectations and answering the soon to be common question of - 'What exactly is a shot stopper?'
Leading up to both the 2018 World Cup and Euro 2020 (which famously took place in 2021), a common commentary surrounded Nick Pope, and the potential reasons for Southgate's favouritsm toward Jordan Pickford. "Pope's distribution isn't as good," was said on repeat, almost as though all the pundits of the English game together as one big monster blob out to slight Nick Pope and find justifications for something that few were willing to admit made little sense. Despite Nick Pope's heroics at Burnley for the past five years, and the potential that he will keep them in the Premier League almost single-handedly for another season, Pickford remains England's firm number one.
Manchester United have been abysmal in 2021-22. You know it. I know it. Everybody knows it. But despite their team woes, a few key individuals have continued to go about their business and perform to reasonably remarkable heights. No one more than David De Gea - who has had one of his greatest seasons in a Manchester United shirt, just one year after losing his place to Dean Henderson. David De Gea has been exceptional in 2021-22, regaining his illustrious reputation as one of the best keepers in the world, and pulling off saves like it's 2015 again. So with that, we bring you our David De Gea Player Analysis, and finally discuss both the strengths and limitations of one of the greatest goalkeepers in Premier League history.
After the departure of Nuno Espirito Santo at the end of last season, Wolverhampton Wanderers hoped their next manager would have the gusto to turn the club back into a Europa League challenging team. While Bruno Lage wasn't the flashiest of appointments, the Portuguese manager has surpassed fan expectations, turning Wolves into one of the best defensive units in the league. Despite scoring just 14 goals in 19 league games, Wolves sit 8th place in the table, on 28 points. That in large part is due to the excellent tactical balance of Bruno Lage's team, their sound defensive structure, and the fact that every single player has completely bought into his ideologies. Here is a tactical analysis all about Bruno Lage's Wolves.
Sean Dyche's Burnley have managed to stay in the Premier League for five seasons in a row now, even reaching the Europa League in 2017-18. Despite that, many providing commentary over the game consistently pick the Clarets as favourites to go down each and every single season. In reality, Burnley never look in any danger of going down. This season it appears as though it's going to be another one in which Sean Dyche's men will steer clear of the drop with relative ease. Dyche's men play a gritty, unconventional brand of football, and their resilient 4-4-2 low-block has troubled even the best of teams and managers. Most recently, they became the first side to win at Anfield for over a thousand days. Here is an updated tactical analysis of Sean Dyche's Burnley, their tried and tested 4-4-2 system and their compact, long-ball style of play in 2020-21.