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Liverpool Article 27 Jun 2020
Liverpool v Crystal Palace A Liverpool Perspective





Was that possibly Liverpool's best performance of the season? It is hard to pick fault with anything that happened from a Reds' perspective or to find anything to say about the game itself. Certainly it is going to be a real struggle to find anything to criticise! It was overwhelming dominance from start to finish, so no surprise Palace were unable to even get a kick inside the LFC box. They never threatened at all.



It was not like Palace just rolled over and let Liverpool win either, they defended hard, it was just that every time they got the ball they were quickly swarmed and lost it before they could get anywhere. That was the famous 'gegenpress', keeping the opponent compressed into their own half and allowing them no chance to even get a breather by holding onto possession.



A deep-lying defensive system like Palace employ is simply unable to cope with a high press attack which works well. It can handle the high press when it is not at its best. This season no one has managed to find a system which could handle Liverpool when they play well, most have been put to the sword even when the Reds are not playing well, so it is no shame for Hodgson's men to lose.







Crystal Palace



Roy Hodgson - he would not have enjoyed his return to Anfield, despite Klopp's nice words before kick-off explaining how he had been told to study footage of Hodgson's time with Switzerland to learn about the game when he was doing his coaching badges. I can only imagine how much face rubbing went on in this match as Roy must have been in absolute despair at seeing his team dismantled so easily. He had no answer but at least he will have some footage to study to learn about how to play the game with a bit of attacking flair.





Hennessey - absolutely no chance with the goals and really did nothing particularly wrong. It was a night to forget for the Welshman, though he has no real blame attached to him, it was clear the defence were not as confident and organised with him behind them, rather than first choice keeper Guaita.





Ward - given an absolute roasting by Mane last night and got little to no protection from Townsend, who had his own hands full with Robertson. Ward was outclassed, even though the system played protects full-backs from exposure.





Cahill - lacks any understanding with Sakho, but also looked his age and really struggled with the movement around him. If ever a night is going to give you thoughts of retirement, that was it.





Sakho - the French centre back has not played since New Year's Day, when he went off injured at half-time, but he looked like a player that had not played for years. His big weakness is his tendency to get carried away and over play, that was on full show time and time again. Added to that, his positioning was all over the place, his touch was off and he looked off the pace of the game. A really poor performance.





van Aanholt - always struggled defensively, but last night was a bad night for him. Despite his pace he still got caught out by Salah's runs, particularly on the Egyptian's goal.





McCarthy - moaned to the ref well, but that seemed about all he had to offer to the Palace cause.





Kouyate - played a large part in keeping the score down to just 4 as he cut out a fair number of balls through and tackled back really well. Did nothing on the ball, but off the ball he was without doubt Palace's best player on the night.





McArthur - worked hard but failed to have any effect on the game at all.





Townsend - utterly anonymous. Failed to help out Ward at all and got torn apart by Robertson constantly.





Zaha - an injury picked up in the warm up ended his game before it really could get started. When he went off so did Palace's hopes of picking up something from the game.





Ayew - had a torrid night with almost no service and struggled to impact on the game at all.





Meyer - the German was the chosen replacement for Zaha on 15 minutes but he failed miserably to get involved. He has looked nothing like the player he was supposed to be before signing for Palace. It had been thought of as a coup at the time, now it looks like a huge mistake.





Milivojevic - replaced Kouyate in the 66th minute as Hodgson looked to bolt the stable door. Struggled to get into the game at all.





Reidewald - came on at the same time as Milivojevic but in place of McArthur. Offered even less than the Scot had done.





Keutcha - the youngster was brought on in the 84th minute and chased around but could not get hold of the ball.







Liverpool



Klopp - a masterclass in management from Jurgen. He is truly cementing his place in the pantheon of Liverpool legends this season. Everytime it seems like the team is in trouble and performances are dipping, Jurgen steps in and motivates the players into producing something special. This was reminiscent of the extraodinary battering that was handed out to Leicester after the team came back from Qatar and were supposedly too jetlagged to cope with a Foxes team that were flying high at the time. This was a huge dismantling of a Palace team that had been in excellent form and a fantastic performances.





Alisson - the person who most suffered from having no crowd there as there was no one for him to chat to once he had finished his sudoku and realised cross-stitch is impossible while wearing the gloves. It did give him a lot of time to google celebration memes to send to Ederson today...





Alexander-Arnold - he was brilliant this season and once more he showed that he is more than just hype and overexcitement because he is 'the Scouser in the team'. Trent is the real deal and has a fantastic delivery. What a free kick! Once more Trent delivered when it matters and you cannot ask any more of a young player than that.





Gomez - Gomez has grown as a player this season, before the lockdown he was outperforming even the imperious van Dijk, which takes a lot of doing. In this match he was once again outstanding and really looks to be the perfect partner for van Dijk. His recovery pace frees up Alexander-Arnold to take more chances in attack and his defensive ability makes the risk pay off.





van Dijk - the kind of game he was born for. On days like that van Dijk is utterly dominant, he seems to grow and frighten opposing forwards into submission before the game even kicks off. Then they try and play in areas away from him, only to find Gomez gives them nothing either. It kills their game dead, as they just lose hope of getting anything from it. Added to that, van Dijk offers so much on the ball that he is more than just shutting the opposition out, he is creating chances too.





Robertson - Liverpool really missed his drive and workrate (and left foot) against Everton. It is not just the balance he gives the side, it is his determination and his willingness to take on anyone head on without care for reputation. Against Palace he was excellent, dominating the flank and taking the game to them.





Fabinho - probably his best game in a Liverpool shirt, he was sensational and his goal was the cherry on top of the icing on the cake. He completely shut down the Palace team and kept their midfield out of the game.





Henderson - he was here, there and everywhere leading from the front like a true captain should. This season has cemented his legacy as one of the better captains Liverpool have had, despite how difficult a start he has had. I doubt anyone has ever had such a difficult task as Henderson did to inherit the armband from one of the club's own in Gerrard, who was beloved by the fans. With so much crap from the media aimed in his direction, he has shown his mettle by just taking it all in his stride (even if he can't run properly hey Fergie?) and leading the team to trophy after trophy. If only he could get the goals his play deserves!





Wijnaldum - had an excellent game, helping to maintain dominance of the ball and breaking into the box, but he really should have scored at least once. Though that would probably have been harsh on Palace to concede 5, as that becomes embarrassing then and they did not deserve to be embarrassed. Gini was much more involved in driving the play forward and had a very good game. Then shifted to left-back for the final few minutes and did a good job there for the team.





Salah - it is hard to believe that there are people who feel we should be looking to sell him and that he does not offer enough to the team. Salah is so important to the way Liverpool play, most of the time he is double-covered creating space elsewhere for the team and when that double-cover is not available he usually scores. And what an excellent goal he scored, but it was bettered by his first-time pass with his wrong foot for Mane's goal. It is just a shame he messed up a chance to play Minamino in, probably caught in two minds about whether to shoot or pass and ended up doing neither.





Mane - growing in stature as a player each season to such an extent that it is difficult to argue against him being the best in his position in world football. Once more he caused havoc and was excellent. Palace simply could not handle him.





Firmino - showed some lovely footwork and worked hard to ensure the team won back possession high. He really does need to get a goal at Anfield this season though. Everything else he does is world class, but his finishing is just not there at the moment. The rest of his game makes up for it.





Oxlade-Chamberlain - came on in the 64th minute for Henderson and gave a fresh impetus to the play with his movement. Everytime he plays in central midfield he impresses more and more. Against Palace he just kept the pressure on and never let them have any respite at all.





Williams - replaced Alexander-Arnold in the 74th minute and there was no noticeable drop in performance having him there rather than Trent. In just about any other team in the league he would probably be first choice with his quality and lovely quick feet.





Minamino - came on along with Williams but to replace Firmino and slotted in up front in place of the Brazilian. Looked much more comfortable in the centre and offered a lot more than against Everton, but is still clearly not at the same level as Firmino, though he has similar luck in front of goal!





Elliott - was brought on in the 84th minute in place of Robertson, as Klopp reshuffled. Elliott played on the left, something I had not see him do before and he never got a chance to really get into the game and have an effect.





Keita - arrived at the same time as Elliott, but took Mane's place. Like Elliott, he had little time to get properly involved.

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Liverpool Article 25 Jun 2020
Top 10 Strikers







10. Erling Haaland - Borussia Dortmund



The youngster has had a meteoric rise which is showing no signs of stopping any time soon. He has all the attributes needed to reach number 1 in time, if he can continue to improve his game. With his physique and speed, Haaland has the potential to play in any league in the world.







9. Karim Benzema - Real Madrid



It is very easy to dismiss Benzema and overlook him. His demeanour is often sullen, he gets involved in issues he should avoid and is one of those characters who are very easy to dislike. However, as a forward he is exceptional, more as a creative force than a top class finisher. That is his downfall, Benzema simply does not score enough goals, but he creates so many chances for his team-mates that it more than makes up for that.







8. Raul Jimenez - Wolverhampton Wanderers



The margins were incredibly tight between the next few players, outside the top 3. However I am choosing Jimenez in eighth, just. His weakness is simply that he does not score enough goals, though his scoring record is certainly not a bad one, just like Benzema, and has been much better this season. Also like Benzema, his work as a conduit for the team's play is exceptional. Though he is more of a target man, he still possesses genuine creative ability.







7. Timo Werner - Red Bull Leipzig



Pace, movement, workrate, skill, Werner has it all. Whether he will be as good in the Premier League as he has been in the Bundesliga is a different matter. On the face of it though he looks like an excellent buy for Chelsea and should be a real difference maker for them next season, when it finally gets under way.







6. Lautaro Martinez - Inter Milan



This lad would be much higher up the list but he has not stood out for long enough to rise higher. It is little surprise that Barcelona are desperate to sign this lad, he stands out as one of the best young talents in world football. You would have to expect him to hit a bump in the road at some point soon and how he deals with it will decide whether he continues to rise or not.







4= Roberto Firmino - Liverpool



Another of those strikers that does not score enough goals, but do so much more for the team in a creative sense that it makes up for the lack of goals. Added to that Firmino also works so hard off the ball defensively it makes him the first line of defence too. Some of his touches and skills are sublime, the no look passes and goals are not his only qualities, he can effortlessly take the ball under control and past a player in one movement. It is done so well that it goes unnoticed most of the time now.





4= Harry Kane - Tottenham Hotspur



Until Salah provided him with genuine competition for the golden boot each season, he was improving massively and looking certain to make it to number 1. Kane's last couple of seasons did see some slight regression as he shot too much and obsessed over trying to score rather than doing what was best for the team. However this season had shown signs of him getting back to what he does best, as his creativity is a big part of his skillset. Now it is just the glass ankles that see him miss large periods of time every season that are a worry.







3. Kylian Mbappe - Paris Saint-Germain



The incredible speed and skill Mbappe possesses often overshadow just how good he is overall. It is so easy to forget that he is not just incredibly quick, but also a top class young player, though he needs to move to a more competitive league to really push for the top spot. With so many easy games a season, it is difficult to truly assess how good he is.







2. Robert Lewandowski - Bayern Munich



Possibly the complete striker, good in the air, great movement and his finishing is sublime. It is an incredibly close call to whether he is first or second. In fact I have swapped them a few times but the Pole has just been edged out. Just.







1. Sergio Aguero - Manchester City



Kun has always been a great striker, but working with Guardiola has added workrate and pressing to his game and it has turned him into something special. Incredible acceleration aids him in finding space to shoot, plus he has a lovely low centre of gravity which enables him to twist and turn at pace and the strength to keep his balance under pressure. Aguero has genuine power in his shot with either foot but his key asset is his intelligent runs.

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Liverpool Article 18 Jun 2020
Gordon Banks 'Banks of England'





To read the player profile on Gordon Banks click here.



To read the manager profile on Gordon Banks click here.



Gordon was born on the 30th December 1937 in Abbeydale, Sheffield, the youngest of four brothers to a steelworker dad. They lived in the working-class area of Tinsley until moving to the village of Catcliffe, where his dad set up a betting shop, which was illegal in those days. That led to the loss of his disabled brother, who was mugged for the shop's daily takings and died of his injuries a few weeks later.



At school Banks became a goalkeeper due to playing 5-a-sides. The kids would all take it in turns, and he found he enjoyed it, so Gordon ended up being the keeper on a more and more regular basis. He went on to represent Sheffield Schoolboys but he was never a good pupil, Banks himself admits he never liked school and he left aged 15 to become a bagger for the local coal merchant. Banks would be in a lorry waiting as trains came into the sidings full of coal. They would get into the wagon, shovel coal into bags on the wagon and then stack the bags on the lorry. Then they would deliver the sacks to houses in the area.



Gordon was still just 15 when his brother David got him a job on a building site as an apprentice bricklayer. There he would carry hods, mix cement and dig ditches. On a Saturday morning he would do overtime then run home, wash and get changed before catching the bus or tram into town to watch whichever of the two Sheffield teams was playing at home that day. One Saturday Banks missed the bus and so he instead went to watch local team Millspaugh play on the 'rec'.



He was leaning on the fence when their coach spotted him in the crowd and asked Gordon if he would play as their keeper had not turned up for the game. The coach had seen him play for Sheffield Schoolboys and recognised him, no doubt with a huge sigh of relief. Banks rushed home to get his boots and played well enough to be asked to play for them regularly. Yorkshire League side Rawmarch Welfare spotted him playing and snapped him up but after two games, in which Rawmarch lost 12-2 and 3-1, they dropped him and he returned to Millspaugh.



Chesterfield scouted him and offered him a six game trial with their youth team in March 1953, which he accepted. After his trial he signed a £3 a week part-time deal with Chesterfield and would continue to work on the building sites, training on a Tuesday and Thursday night. National Service intervened and he spent a year posted in Germany with the Royal Signals, winning the Rhine Cup with his regimental team and winning the heart of his wife Ursula while there too.



Returning to England he was part of the Chesterfield youth team that made it through to the 1956 FA Youth Cup final, where they lost 4-3 on aggregate to the Busby Babes. Chesterfield's reserves were placed into the Central League due to the influence of a powerful club director, but they found themselves out of their depth, even with Banks in goal. They finished last with just 3 wins and Banks conceded 122 goals!



Despite Gordon's lack of success in the reserves, in November 1958 he was given his first team debut against Colchester United at Saltergate. The score finished 2-2 but Banks held on to his place for the rest of the season, missing just 2 matches and all were due to injury. With no specialist goalkeeping coaches in English football at the time, Gordon Banks had to teach himself how to keep the ball out of the net. With just 26 total appearances under his belt, Leicester City manager Matt Gillies had seen enough to pay £7,000 for his services in July 1959 and he was given a salary increase to £15 per week.



The Foxes had five other goalkeepers competing for the number 1 shirt already, including Scottish international Johnny Anderson. Dave MacLaren had the shirt, but Banks began the 1959-60 season as the reserves keeper, ahead of Anderson. After just four games in the reserves, MacLaren picked up an injury and Banks made his first team debut for Leicester on 9th September at Filbert Street against Blackpool in a 1-1 draw. He also played 3 days later in a 2-0 defeat to Newcastle at St James' Park but then MacLaren returned to fitness and Banks returned to the reserves.



Over the course of the next five matches the first team conceded 14 and so Banks was recalled to the first team. His return did not pay immediate dividends, Leicester still leaked goals, including 6 at Goodison Park, but Banks worked hard on his weaknesses in training. This was before specialist goalkeeping coaches and so Banks would create his own practice session to work on things, such as coming for crosses. He did well enough that both Anderson and MacLaren were allowed to move on at the end of the season, leaving Banks as undisputed number 1.



The following season was much better for Leicester, as they came 6th in the league and reached an FA Cup final, with Banks conceding just 5 goals in their 9 games en route to Wembley. The semi-final went to two replays against Sheffield United, with Banks keeping a clean sheet in all three games to see the Foxes into the final. There they met a Tottenham team that beat them 2-0 and then Spurs clinched the double with the league title. That meant Leicester were in European competition, as Spurs were in the European Cup, and had a run in the European Cup Winners' Cup to look forward to for the 1961-62 season.



Banks had impressed enough to put himself into the England reckoning now, which caused a few problems for the goalkeeper when an England v Portugal game clashed with Leicester's game against Atletico Madrid. He resolved the dilemma over which to choose by not choosing between them. Banks instead left London as soon as the England game had finished (he was not in the team) and raced up to Leicester to arrive 30 minutes before kick off. It was not enough to see Leicester through as the game finished 1-1 and they went on to lose the return leg 2-0 despite Banks's penalty save. The run in Europe seemingly affected their league form as they finished the season just 14th in Division One.



Banks opened the 1962-63 season with a broken nose in a 2-1 defeat at Craven Cottage on opening day, but it was not a taster for how the season would go. Leicester were chasing the double and were sat top of the Division 1 table in April and were in the FA Cup semi-finals, where they would face Liverpool. In the semi at Hillsborough, Liverpool bombarded his goal, with the game finishing 34 shots to 1 in their favour, but Banks still managed to keep a clean sheet and see the Foxes into the final with a 1-0 win. After his retirement Banks referred to it as his finest performance at club level.



At international level Alf Ramsey started looking to the 1966 World Cup and dropped Ron Springett for him on 6th April 1963 against Scotland at Wembley. England lost 2-1 but Banks held on to his place. The end of the season did not go so well though as Banks broke a finger at the Hawthorns in a 2-1 defeat by West Brom and missed the last 3 league games as Leicester slumped without him, losing them all and dropping to 4th. Banks did return to play in the FA Cup final, but the entire team played poorly in a 3-1 defeat to Manchester United.



The next season saw Leicester in inconsistent form in the league, finishing just 11th, but they reached another cup final, this time the League Cup variant. In those days it was a home and away affair and Stoke were the opponents. The first leg at an extremely muddy Victoria Ground was a 1-1 draw after Banks spilt a Bill Asprey shot, which Keith Bebbington slotting home the loose ball. Back at Filbert Street, Leicester won 3-2 to lift the cup 4-3 on aggregate.



By the end of the season Banks had firmly established himself as England's number 1 and played two of the 3 matches during the summer's "Little World Cup" in Brazil. At this time Leicester paid full internationals, such as Banks and Frank McLintock, £40 a week and that saw McLintock request a transfer due to his low pay. Rival clubs were paying their fringe players that much and they eventually, in December, upped Banks' wage to £60 a week. It was not the best season for Banks personally as Blackpool keeper Tony Waiters managed to push in, picking up 5 caps, but he lost his place back to Banks after conceding five goals against Brazil. Waiters' chance came about after Banks was one of a party of England players who went on an unsanctioned night out before a friendly in Lisbon. The players all returned to their hotel rooms to find their passports waiting for them on their pillows!



In the league the Foxes struggled, finishing 18th, but managed to reach the League Cup final again, this time losing to Chelsea. After the season, England's summer tour saw Banks and the defence build an understanding and conceded just 2 goals in 4 games. Returning to club duty, he broke his wrist in pre-season, which saw him miss the first 9 games of the season, however Leicester's form improved and they managed to reach 7th before Banks headed off on England duty once more.



England played 7 friendlies in the build up to the 1966 World Cup, included in that was a 4-3 win over Scotland in the British Home Championship in front of over 130,000 at Hampden Park and they headed into the tournament in fine form. The tournament began with Banks pretty much a spectator in the first game against Uruguay as they were so defensive. Against Mexico he again had an easy day before another win, and a third clean sheet in row saw England through to the last 8 without conceding a single goal. Argentina were next up, though it lacked the rivalry of future games, and another clean sheet helped England into the semi-finals.



The teams were lining up in the tunnel before the match when trainer Harold Shepherdson realised he had forgotten to buy Banks' chewing gum. As Banks explains: "I didn't use gloves in those days, only when it was wet. Woollen ones like the ones you may buy to wear in winter now with your overcoat. But I learned from Bert Trautmann to get a couple of pieces of chewing gum and start chewing. He told me to wait until just before the icing on the gum cracked and then spit on my hands and smooth it over. Then when the opposition came over the halfway line you just had to lick your palms and they would immediately get sticky and help you hold the ball when it came." In a panic Shepherdson ran to a nearby newsagents to buy some chewing gum and just made it back in time for kick off.



Perhaps that contributed as Banks conceded his first goal in 721 minutes of regular play, but England managed to beat Portugal, with the great Eusebio up front at his peak, 2-1. As some of you might have heard, England went on to beat West Germany in the final to become World Champions for the first (and so far only) time. The German players were all given £10,000 each and a VW car for reaching the final, England gave its players £1,000 each and a raincoat.



Banks returned to the Foxes fresh from a World Cup win only to find himself dropped towards the end of the season, being told by manager Matt Gillies that "we think your best days are behind you, and you should move on". Leicester team mate Richie Norman told him that Gillies had been pressured into it by the board after Peter Shilton, who replaced Banks in the team, had threatened to leave if he was not playing. Shockingly Leicester transfer listed Gordon Banks with a price of £50,000.



As soon as Liverpool manager Bill Shankly got the news that Banks was available he jumped in his car and drove straight to Leicester. He met Leicester's directors and agreed a fee, then he spoke to Banks and agreed personal terms before racing back to Liverpool to speak to the LFC board. The Liverpool board refused point blank to sanction paying that much for a keeper. West Ham manager Ron Greenwood was the next to show interest but he had already agreed a deal with Kilmarnock for the signing of Bobby Ferguson for £65,000 and would not go back on his word. So it was left to Stoke City to step in and pay the £50,000 to buy him in April 1967.



Just one year after becoming a World Cup winner Gordon Banks was being forced to make a move from Leicester and the England goalkeeper asked for the standard 'loyalty' payment from the Foxes. Gillies told him: "We've decided not to pay you a penny. There's to be no compensation payment and that's final." Shocked, as this was a time when players were not being given huge money and could not just afford to go and buy a new house every time they moved club, Banks refused to move to Stoke. In the end Stoke's manager Tony Waddington told Banks that he had manage to negotiate a £2,000 payment from Leicester for him. It was not until years later that Banks found out Stoke had paid him the money.



At the Potters he replaced John Farmer as number 1 and played the last four games of the 1966/67 season, making his home debut in a 3-1 win over previous club Leicester. Though he has never publicly stated it, I am sure he would have taken a great deal of satisfaction from that result! Banks continued to hold down his place as England's first choice man between the sticks, representing them in Euro 68 in the days when there were just 4 teams in the tournament - Italy (hosts), Soviet Union, Yugoslavia and England. Despite the safe hands of Banks, England lost their first game 1-0 to Yugoslavia before beating the Soviets in a third place play off.



He still had time to head off to the USA for the summer and play for Cleveland Stokers of the United Soccer Association on loan. Banks found the time to play seven of the Ohio club's 12 matches of the season before a return to England. Despite Leicester selling him as over the hill, Banks was playing more games than ever and continued to hold down the number 1 jersey for an England team that was believed to be even better than the one that won the World Cup a few years' previously. They headed off to the heat and altitude of Mexico '70 as one of the big favourites.



The England team went over to South America early to acclimatise but Banks struggled with the heat and the altitude, as did many others. Despite that, England opened the tournament with a 1-0 win over Romania to set up a clash with the other favourites Brazil in the second game of the group stage. The game most felt should have been the final, between the two best games in the tournament came along the day after Gordon had been honoured with an OBE. In this game he produced the one moment he will always be known for and one that made the OBE seem like it undervalued his contribution.



In Pele's words: "Banks appeared in my sight like a kind of blue phantom. He came from nowhere, and he did something I didn't feel was possible. He pushed my header, somehow, up and over. And I couldn't believe what I saw. Even now when I watch it, I can't believe it. I can't believe how he moved so far, so fast." As the ball flew off Pele's head, he even shouted "Gol!" Pele was that sure he had placed his header so far from the keeper that no one is going to save it. As the ball headed to his right, Gordon Banks flew across and somehow miraculously managed to tip it over the bar, scooping it right up.



"They won't remember me for winning the World Cup, it'll be for that save. That's how big a thing it is. People just want to talk about that save." - Banks



At the time Banks ended up in the back of the net and only Pele's reaction told him that he had managed to save it. "I thought that was a goal," an incredulous Pele told him. "You and me both," replied Gordon. Then Booby Moore arrived to ruffle his hair and told him: "You're getting old, Banksy, you used to hold onto them." Despite that incredible save (and that tackle by Moore) Brazil still beat England 1-0 but they then beat Czechoslovakia to reach the quarter finals, where they would once again face West Germany.



Before this game it was not an award he picked up but a stomach bug of some kind, which went from merely an upset stomach to turn into violent stomach cramps and aching limbs. Banks spent the day before sweating, shivering and vomiting. On the day of the game he did feel better and managed to pass a fitness test before suffering a relapse, which led to him being replaced by Peter Bonetti. Gordon was sat in the team hotel watching the game, which was shown with a significant time delay. The time delay was such that England were winning 2-0 on his TV screen when Bobby Moore came back from the game to tell him that England lost 3-2 after extra time. The loss of Banks was key, as Bonetti struggled and that, along with the so-called 'Bogota Bracelet' incident led to the spread of conspiracy theories that England had been 'nobbled' to stop them winning it again.



While in the region Banks had picked himself up some of the new, oversized goalkeeping gloves with a dimpled rubber surface, which South American keepers favoured. Most Brits mistrusted foreign goalkeepers, but Gordon Banks was someone who was looking to learn from everyone. He returned to England and Stoke began to start being competitive for honours, reaching the semi-final of the FA Cup in the 1970-71 season. They lost to Arsenal after a replay.



There was a controversial moment during the season, something that many forget involved him. In May 1971 Banks was playing in goal for England against Northern Ireland at Windsor Park with the score 0-0. The ball was in Banks' hands and he balanced it on one hand as he prepared to kick down field when George Best nipped in and headed the ball out of his hand and put it into the empty net. Banks protests quickly saw the referee disallow the goal, but it has stayed in people's memories as a moment of Best magic.



The following season Stoke won the only major honour in their history, as Banks led them to pick up a League Cup. They also once again reached the FA Cup semi-final to face Arsenal once more. It went to a replay again and Banks later admitted he felt cheated of a chance to play in an FA Cup final after the Gooners won 2-1 thanks to a hotly disputed penalty and a goal that TV replays showed was clearly offside. His performances were so integral to Stoke's success that he won the Football Writers' Association Footballer of the Year award. He was the first keeper to win it since Bert Trautmann in 1956.



It was a quiet summer for Banks as England had failed to qualify for the European Championships that summer due to a 3-1 loss to West Germany in qualifying. He was still undisputed number 1 for England and Stoke City on 22nd October 1972 when he was driving home after a physio session on an injured shoulder. Banks admitted he was driving too fast and not being careful enough, deciding to overtake on a sharp bend and hit an oncoming van. His car ended up in a ditch. He was rushed to North Staffordshire Hospital for emergency treatment where he received 200 stitches on his face and another 100 micro-stitches inside the socket of his right eye. Unfortunately the treatment was unable to save the sight in his right eye.



The following summer he officially retired from professional football with 73 England caps, 35 of them clean sheets, and just 9 losses in an England shirt. Banks' final performance was fitting as he was part of an England team that beat the 'Auld Enemy' Scotland 1-0 at Hampden Park. He had been chosen as FIFA Goalkeeper of the Year six time, 5 years in a row, the final year being as recently as 1971. Gordon chose to retire as he was afraid that losing an eye would completely destroy his depth perception and ability to compete at the top level.



Retirement never suited him at all and he made one appearance for a semi-professional side, Scarborough FC, in the Anglo-Italian Tournament as a guest. Alan A'Court also guested in a 0-0 draw against Monza. Banks was convinced to join the North American Soccer League as a named superstar in April 1977 with the Fort Lauderdale Strikers. They won the league with the best defensive record in 1977, conceding just 29 in 26 games, but he never really enjoyed the showmanship of the league saying: "I felt like a circus act... Roll up, roll up, to see the greatest one-eyed goalkeeper in the world."



It was very different from what he was used to in the no-nonsense world of the English league, for instance there was one occasion when Banks found himself being driven to the pitch in a hearse. Then he helped to carry a coffin to the centre circle whereupon the team's manager jumped out, dressed as Dracula, as the PA system announced to the fans that, "Lauderdale Strikers are coming back from the dead!" They had lost just two games in a row before this one.



His performances were enough to win him the NASL Goalkeeper of the Year award, which was unsurprising according to the team's back up keeper, Van Taylor: "He had such a high work ethic. He was the first to training, last to leave. He worked hard. There was a time in the pre-season where we would run on the beach from one pier to the other and he would be at the front of that pack every time. He took pride in his professionalism. He was so impeccable on angles and positioning. Where maybe I was flopping and making it look like good saves, he would just collect balls. He made things look so easy. When training was over he would say: 'Let's just keep a bag of balls'. I learned how to deliver a pretty good cross!"



During the season St Patrick's Athletic manager Barry Bridges was without a goalkeeper for the Dublin derby with Shamrock Rovers. Bridges made an approach to sign Gordon for just that one game and was waiting to hear back from the legendary keeper. Bridges told the groundsman, Harry Boland, that he was expecting a phone call then took the players out to training. Bridges and the players are out on the pitch training, Harry is down in the dressing room making tea for the players to drink after training when he heard the phone ring upstairs. Rushing upstairs, Harry reaches the phone just in time for it to stop ringing. Back down the stairs, grumbling under his breath, Harry makes it as far as the dressing room before the phone begins to ring once more. Once more he makes his way all the way up the stairs to get to the phone before it stops ringing. By this point he is convinced it is lads in the Black Lion pub, who often used to play this prank on him, so the third time it rings he is ready and waiting by the phone and picks it up. A voice on the other end says: "I'm Gordon Banks, I'm looking to speak to Barry Bridges", only to receive a tirade of expletives before the phone is slammed down on him. Bridges returns from training and asks, "any phone calls?" "Well there was one," replies Boland, "but it was the lads up in the Black Lion messing saying it was Gordon Banks on the phone."



Luckily Barry Bridges was able to rescue the deal and it saw the stadium packed long before kick-off with a large crowd of small boys and small girls chanting, "Gordon Banks, Gordon Banks". However it was not until about 5 minutes from the end that he was seriously tested when a volley from Eamon Dunphy headed for the top right-hand corner of the net. Banks flew across to pull off a stunning save and earn himself a rapturous ovation after the game as St Pat's ran out 1-0 winners. Even at 40 with just one working eye, Banks still had it.



In December he joined Port Vale as a coach under Dennis Butler, coaching was clearly something he was keen to make a future in according to Van Taylor: "I was cleaning out my attic the other day and I found some old Delta Air Lines napkins - when we were on the flight, Gordon and I would do Xs and Os, tactics, and he had signed it. We would just talk about the game, as players would, and get a napkin. As it turned out I ended up having a coaching career for 30 years. When I saw that I thought, 'there was one of my first coaching mentors.' It was kind of neat."



Banks continued to play for the Strikers, combining it with the coaching role at Vale, managing 11 appearances in the NASL over the course of 1978. Vale were not doing too well under Butler and he was replaced by Alan Bloor, who then demoted Banks to coach the reserves in October. The great man, without a doubt England's greatest ever goalkeeper, resigned soon after as he felt the players were not listening to him or taking notice of his advice. He then applied for jobs as manager of Lincoln City and Rotherham United, but both turned Banks down.



Eventually non-league part-timers Telford United game him a chance for the 1979-80 season. There Banks did everything, from appearances at supermarkets to hand out tickets to coaching the team. They finished 13th that season, not as good as was hoped for but he started the following season with optimism. In November he took time off to undergo surgery, leaving Jackie Mudie in temporary charge while he recovered. Telford lost to a lower league team in the FA Trophy while he was away and Banks was promptly sacked on his return and offered a job as a raffle ticket seller instead. Banks accepted it, thinking it would mean the club had to pay up what he was owed, but he was mistaken and ended up having to settle for 50% and said of his treatment: "It broke my heart.... I did not want to stay in the game."



The game had changed a lot during his lifetime: "In my early days, a goal against us was shrugged off. Nobody liked conceding a goal, but once the ball had gone into the net it was accepted as 'one of those things' and everybody in the team would concentrate on trying to get the goal back. But once the maximum wage had been lifted and win bonuses became all-important, it was suddenly considered a crime to concede a goal."



Despite that, Banks did stay within the game to a degree, as he was appointed to the three-man Pools panel. After Stanley Matthews death in 2000, Stoke appointed him as their president. He also finally got his testimonial game from Leicester, belatedly, in 1995 after he lost a lot of money in a Leicester-based hospitality company. Banks never earnt the wealth his talents deserved and ended up selling his World Cup winner's medal and his international cap from the final for around £150,000 in total so that he could help his three children buy their first houses.



Recognition of his achievements came late as the IFFHS chose him as number 2 goalkeeper of the 20th Century behind Lev Yashin. He was an inaugural inductee to the English Football Hall of Fame in 2002, Keele University awarded him an honorary doctorate and a statue of him holding up the Jules Rimet Trophy was unveiled outside Stoke's Britannia Stadium by Pele, who described Banks as a "goalkeeper with magic" as he did so. All of that he got to see before he passed away in his sleep on 12th February 2019 as, without question, the best English goalkeeper of all time.





Suggested by c_matthews94



For the previous Legend of the Game article on Jimmy Johnstone click HERE

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22 Jun 2020 17:47:52
That was a great read, Ed. Well done! It’s very sad the way these bone fide Legends of the game were treated like crap by directors after they retired. It’s not like they were asking for very much in the first place. But they earned so little in their careers they had to go cap-in-hand as it were. Imagine telling the World Cup winning save of the century making keeper to go and sell raffle tickets? It beggars belief.

It’s too late for them now but that ‘66 winning team were nearly all treated abysmally and should have been compensated financially when the money came into the game. At least United showed respect to Bobby Charlton although they showed none to Nobby Stiles, and I don’t know why they would laid one while abandoning the other.

{Ed001's Note - thank you mate and you make a very good point. Roger Hunt is another one who never got anything like his deserved recompense for his goals. It is so sad when you see today even average players earning huge fortunes without doing anything to deserve it. Worse that agents take even bigger fortunes out of the game for even less.}

22 Jun 2020 18:09:59
Even Bill Shankly got paid feck all - I remember Johnny Giles talking about it years ago. World Cup winning legends having to sell their medals to help their kids buy a house. It’s disgusting. But I love reading about these legends Ed, keep them coming. Really looking forward to reading one on Jimmy Greaves, whose goalscoring record is just insane!

23 Jun 2020 13:28:06
Brilliant article, absolutely top class.

{Ed001's Note - thank you very much Irish!}

Liverpool Article 30 May 2020
By The Numbers - Part 1: Liverpool





4 FA Youth Cup wins, the first coming in 1996 with a team featuring Michael Owen and Jamie Carragher. The last in 2019 on penalties over Manchester City.





1892 The year of the club's birth, after Everton had a dispute with Anfield landlord John Houlding and went off to play across Stanley Park. Houlding set up Liverpool to play at the now empty Anfield.





41 The club's oldest ever player was Ted Doig, who was 41 years and 165 days old when facing Newcastle United in 1908.





41 It was also the number of goals Roger Hunt scored in the 1961-62 season.





18 He was known as 'Supersub' for a reason. David Fairclough notched up 18 goals for Liverpool as a substitute.





38 At the age of 38 years and 55 days the great Billy Liddell became the oldest player to score for Liverpool. Liddell was so important in his time that the club were nicknamed Liddellpool while he played for them.





35 The club's first transfer record was the £35 paid for Scottish left back William "Billy" Dunlop from Paisley Abercorn.





1959 A crucial year in the history of the Reds as Bill Shankly was appointed to replace Phil Taylor as manager. Shankly had previously been turned down for the role as he had wanted too much control for the Liverpool board's liking. It was an appointment that changed history.





114 Liverpool's most capped player is Steven Gerrard with his 114 England caps.





16 The youngest ever players was Jerome Sinclair who was just 16 years and 6 days old when he faced West Bromwich Albion in 2012.





17 Gordon Hodgson managed to notch up 17 hat-tricks while playing for LFC.





42 Taking penalties was just about the only time Jan Molby seemed to move out from the centre circle and he scored 42 of those during his Liverpool career.





1 Lancashire League titles before joining the Football League.





6 European Cups, the most of any British team.





18 Reserve Division One Championships. At one time the reserves actually meant more than just a way to get first team players fit.





1964 The arrival of the all-red kit appeared in November of this year. Shanks felt it made the team look more intimidating.





15 Charity/Community Shields, though 5 of them were shared with their opponent on the day.





5 In the 1961-62 season Roger Hunt scored this many hat-tricks for the Reds.





417 Phil Neal managed to set a record for most consecutive appearances between October 1976 and September 1983.





20 Mr Consistency Phil Neal also managed to win 20 trophies in his time with Liverpool.





346 The most first team goals is a record held by Ian Rush. 39 of them in the FA Cup and 48 in the League Cup are also club records.





75,000,000 The club's record transfer fee which was spent on Southampton defender Virgil van Dijk.





1974 The end of an era as Bill Shankly handed over the reins as Liverpool manager to Bob Paisley.





245 Roger Hunt has more league goals than any other Liverpool player.





1 FIFA Club World Cup, taking until 2019 to lift it, despite taking part a number of times as defending European champions in the past.





21 The club's longest serving player was Elisha Scott, the goalkeeper serving the club for 21 years and 52 days between 1913 and 1934.





4 The number of different managers who won the European Cup with Liverpool. Bob Paisley, three times, Joe Fagan, Rafael Benitez and Jurgen Klopp.





1901 The year of Liverpool's first league title.





18 Or should that be 19? The number of league titles won by Liverpool.





7 FA Cups have ended up going up to Merseyside.





41 Steven Gerrard was the man to look to in Europe, as his club record total of 41 European goals shows.





17 Liverpool's youngest ever goalscorer was Ben Woodburn aged 17 years and 45 days when he scored the second goal in a win over Leeds United in 2016.





1977 The year of Liverpool's first European Cup win.





78 Ian Rush's 78 League Cup appearances are a club record.





8 League Cups, 4 of them in a row in the early 1980s.





3 UEFA Cups under three different managers, Bill Shankly, Bob Paisley and Gerard Houllier.





1977 It was a big year for Anfield as the King arrived to take his place on the throne. Kenny Dalglish cost what now seems the paltry fee of £440,000 from Celtic and went on to become a legend on and off the pitch for the Reds. Initially he was wanted as Kevin Keegan's partner, but Keegan's desire to move on saw the Scot end up replacing him on the pitch and in the hearts of Liverpool fans.





857 Ian Callaghan holds the record for the most first team appearances with 857 in total. He also holds records for most league appearances, with 640, and most FA Cup appearances with 79.





2015 October of this year saw Liverpool take a huge step forward as Brendan Rodgers was sacked on the 4th and Jurgen Klopp brought in to replace him on the 8th.





4 UEFA Super Cup wins, 3 after European Cups and 1 after a UEFA Cup victory.





150 With the increase in European games, Jamie Carragher was able to create a new record for appearances in Europe.





4 Division Two titles. The Reds were not always a top flight team and won the second tier of the English Leagues 4 times.





20 Jurgen Klopp is Liverpool's twentieth manager in their history.

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Liverpool Article 26 May 2020
Top 10 Left Midfielders/Wingers/Forwards







10. Lorenzo Insigne - SSC Napoli



Small in stature though he is, Insigne has been a giant for Napoli over the last few years, prior to the arrival of Sarri anyway. Fast and tricky, Insigne is a skilled winger who can give a defender nightmares when on song. It is his consistency that is a problem.







9. Memphis Depay - Olympique Lyonnais



A few years ago, Depay's career looked to be a complete flop after his time at Manchester United turned out to be a mess. It does seem like that move just came too soon, as many said at the time, and he was just not ready to join a club the size of United. Since leaving he has turned around his career and you can see the player they wanted has finally emerged.







8. Heung-min Son - Tottenham Hotspur



It is a tough one to decide where he plays best and that versatility has cost him a place higher up the list. A brilliant player, on the left, on the right or up front, but struggles to hold down a position on a permanent basis just because he can play so well in those positions.







7. Gerard Delofeu - Watford



Pacey and tricky, Delofeu can be unplayable on his day. If he can just learn consistency, then he will be moving up the list. He has already improved from being a one or two times a season superstar to being a one in two performer. Playing for a club that expects more from him and that needs him has done him good.







6. Diogo Jota - Wolverhampton Wanderers



The Portugese has been a breath of fresh air this season, pace, skill, workrate and scores goals too. Jota grew in stature as the season went on and is one player who would particularly be disappointed by the interruption caused by the virus. It is no wonder the media link him with all the big clubs around Europe.







5. Neymar - Paris Saint-Germain



The talent he has should put him miles ahead of the rest but his attitude holds him back badly. Playing in a weak French league does not help his case either, but it is solely down to him and him alone that he is not top of the tree in his role. It is nothing short of embarrassing watching him cheating his way through games and is such a waste of incredible talent.







4. Eden Hazard - Real Madrid



His move to Madrid should have been the catalyst for a step up, but instead it has been a struggle for Hazard as he failed to get himself into the shape that he should have and his lack of fitness caused injury problems early in the season. Once he did get himself fit and in the first team, Hazard did begin to show the qualities Chelsea fans adored.







3. Cristiano Ronaldo - Juventus



Still a great player but he has long since settled in as a striker only for him to be mostly used on the left this season by Sarri. As a result, it was not a great season for him and he finally showed signs of decline.







2. Raheem Sterling - Manchester City



Sterling, despite the media hatred, has improved massively over the youngster that left Liverpool, learning to use his skills for the benefit of the team, while mostly mitigating his weak striking technique. The pace and workrate he has is a genuine problem for opponents and he usually causes the opposition to alter their match plan to counter him.







1. Sadio Mane - Liverpool



There is so much good to talk about with Mane, his workrate is incredible, often popping up in full-back areas and showing an ability to defend one-on-one that very few modern full-backs display. The acceleration he shows is insane, his skills and first touch are incredible and he scores and creates goals. Plus he is good in the air. Mane is fast becoming the complete player.

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Liverpool Article 07 May 2020
Top 10 Right Midfielders/Wingers/Forwards







10. Ismaila Sarr - Watford



Sarr makes such a significant difference to the Hornets' results that he has to be in here. He never looks particularly outstanding, if anything he looks clumsy, but he gives full-backs nightmares. Pace, power, skill, added to youth and enthusiasm, Sarr looks like a huge talent on the rise.







9. Jadon Sancho - Borussia Dortmund



While I am not convinced he is as wonderful as the hype makes him out to be, a lot of the defences he faces are, at best, woeful. Sometimes it is embarrassing watching how the defenders panic and jump out of his way without him having to actually do anything. However, his stats demand inclusion no matter how poor the defences are Sancho has to be good enough to take advantage of their shortcomings.







8. Federico Chiesa - Fiorentina



Chiesa is just 22 himself, another youngster, but he is established now as a key player in Serie A. What he needs now is better players around him to make the most of his talents. Something which did look likely to happen this summer before a virus changed the footballing transfer outlook.







7. Hakim Ziyech - Ajax (Deal agreed to sign for Chelsea in the next transfer window)



When he has his head in the game, Ziyech is top class. The problem he has is attitude. In the past he has squabbled with team-mates and coaching staff and ended up left out of the team as a result. On his day Ziyech can be a real handful for any defence and his attitude has shown improvement recently.







6. David Neres - Ajax



Despite being lightweight, the Brazilian is a lightning-quick tricky winger with real quality. The only thing he really needs to learn is to be more consistent and involve himself in games more. With Ziyech leaving that will give him the chance to solidify his place as first choice right winger at the Amsterdam club.







5. Riyad Mahrez - Manchester City



On his day the Algerian can be simply magical, with tricky fast feet and a wonderful left foot. However he is too inconsistent to move higher up the list. There are a lot of days when he is not even playing and when he does, Mahrez can often try too hard and do too much, losing possession. In large part that is down to being in and out of the side, but he has begun to show signs of adapting over last season.







4. Serge Gnabry - Bayern Munich



It is hard to remember him now as a raw, but promising, winger at Arsenal, because Arsene Wenger was oddle reticent to use him, despite him regularly looking like he had something to offer. Much more than many first team players that he was unable to displace. Since moving to Germany, he has not only lived up to the promise he showed at Arsenal, but exceeded it.







3. Adama Traore - Wolverhampton Wanderers



There is just one weakness left in Traore's game, end product. If he can produce a more consistent end product, rather than running into blind alleys regularly, then he will be unstoppable with his insane acceleration and pace. He is more than just fast though, he has great skill too. If Traore continues to improve at the rate he has, then he will be pushing the top 2 next season.







2. Mohamed Salah - Liverpool



The only reason he is number 2 is because of the long-term consistent brilliance of the number 1. Salah has been sensational for Liverpool from wide areas, producing numbers from wide areas that only Messi can compare to. Though Messi regularly faces much weaker sides than Salah does, so the gap is much smaller than it might seem. One thing that particularly impresses is Salah's workrate, something that is a clear edge over Messi in recent years.







1. Lionel Messi - Barcelona



In recent years he has stopped working for the team and it is showing in Barca's performances of the last few years. However he is still on top of the pile, in large part for his years of brilliance for the team. His age is beginning to show and he is clearly not the player he once was, though still good enough to be on top of the pile.

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Liverpool Article 22 Apr 2020
Top 10 Attacking Midfielders







10. Thomas Muller - Bayern Munich



A few years back he was the best around, but his performance level has been gradually dropping by the season. Now he is just about scraping into the top 10 on past performances. Unless he plays better when football resumes, this will be his final time in the top 10.







9. Mesut Ozil - Arsenal



Once so good he was breathtaking, now completely misused by Arsenal for years but still turns it on when they do play him to his strengths. Even though he has had a disappointing last few years, still his creation of chances is unbelievable in pure numbers. Imagine how good he would be if they actually knew what to do with him?







8. Nicolo Zaniolo - AS Roma



The Italian is on quite the opposite trajectory to Muller, his star is rising while Muller's dims. Zaniolo has had an impressive season and is a player that is sure to be attracting the attention of other clubs. The only thing keeping him down here is that he is young, so has not yet got the lengthy history of high-level performances.







7. Bernardo Silva - Manchester City



Exceptional player but it is difficult to figure out which is his best position, right mid or attacking mid. He is excellent in either, though overshadowed in the City team by his namesake and the brilliant Belgian De Bruyne. Personally I do feel he will establish himself in the centre once the Spanish magician leaves at the end of this season, so he is in as an attacking mid for my lists.







6. Bruno Fernandes - Manchester United



Has been a revelation at United, though he was excellent before that in a much weaker league. Since his move Fernandes has shown he is good enough for the higher level in the English Premier League. More than good enough. Fernandes has become United's key player already.







5. Luis Alberto - Lazio



The Spaniard has come a long way since his failed spell with Liverpool. He has completely rebuilt his reputation as an exciting playmaker and become a key figure for Lazio as they challenged for the title. To have recovered from such a poor spell shows what a good mentality he has.







4. James Maddison - Leicester City



Has been key to Leicester's improvement this season as he provides the creativity they had been lacking. Still has areas to improve on, such as terrible dives, but he has shown some real quality. His set-piece delivery is especially good and he is one of the better players in the game right now at putting deadballs in.







3. Paulo Dybala - Juventus



Dybala is so much better in a slightly deeper role, though he does need to work on his pressing to help the team. His quality on the ball usually makes up for any deficiencies, as he has finally started to look like the player everyone expected him to become.







2. David Silva - Manchester City



The little Spaniard is quite simply a magician, it is only age and injuries that have seen him not be as effective as usual this season. Still a wonderful player, who is not just a creative genius but also hard working and willing to put his foot in when needed. Silva has grown into possibly the best foreign player of the Premier League era and it is sad that his time has ended in such a way.







1. Kevin de Bruyne - Manchester City



What more can you say about de Bruyne that his media admirers have not already said? He is the darling of the sports media, but this season he has fully earned all the plaudits, when played in his best role. The problem he has is that Pep often plays him in a deeper role, which lessens his effectiveness. I do worry that one day he is going to spontaneously combust as his face is so red, but what a player he can be.

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23 Apr 2020 13:55:44
No Coutinho? :) :) :)

Liverpool Article 20 Apr 2020
Comparison 5 - Alisson v Ederson





These two became an argument with life of its own, similar to the old Paul Scholes v Frank Lampard v Steven Gerrard debate. With these two, thanks to David de Gea's collapse in form, standing out as the best goalkeepers in the Premier League, the argument over which was better raged all last season. However it must be said that this season the discussion has died down, with Ederson finally being tested and found wanting for Manchester City, while Alisson has saved Liverpool on a number of occasions.



There used to be a very direct comparison, but with scant evidence to really prove whether or not Ederson was as good as pundits suggested. No one was really taking the game to City to test his prowess. This season that has changed and now the comparison seems out of date, as Ederson has been shown to be nowhere near as good as was claimed. It is now clear to see why Alisson is Brazil's number 1 ahead of him.



Command of Area: Alisson is a clear winner here, though this is not one of his stronger suits when it comes to corners, most of the rest of the time he is very much in command in there. Ederson, on the other hand, is hindered by having a very ropey bunch of defenders in front of him and seems to struggle to work with them. Because of that, I would say that it is difficult for Ederson and that is probably a bigger difference between the two than actual ability in this respect.



Communication: This is one area I believe both could improve on. You can often see Alisson and Virgil van Dijk gesturing to each other to deal with a ball, disputing over who should be there first. Alisson needs to be more clear when he feels it is not his to get to. Ederson, on the other hand, is fine with that part of communication, but balls into the box he is often having to go through teammates who had no idea the Brazilian was trying to get to it. Neither win in this particular facet and both need to work on it.



Eccentricity: Being eccentric is something that seems common to all keepers, good or bad, but I am not sure whether it is a plus to be more eccentric or a negative. Seems to be a bit of both! I would have to say that Ederson is clearly more eccentric of the two, Alisson seems a bit staid by comparison.



First Touch: Normally I would not bother with this for a keeper, but these two are different and as much part of the outfield team as they are goalkeepers. Their ability to control the ball is vital. Both have excellent first touches, but both have had a number of moments when they lose concentration at the vital moment and miscontrol an easy pass causing themselves problems. Over the last few months, Ederson has been prone to more mistakes of the two, they are almost becoming commonplace. It seems like he needs a wake up call, as quite a few have led to goals and Ederson has yet to react to those mistakes by sharpening up his control and concentration. Alisson, on the other hand, has made fewer as time has gone on. When he does make a mistake, you can see him visibly react to it and it makes him much more careful with his play for a while. Ederson just does not seem to learn.



Handling: Both of them are competent in this area. You very rarely see either fumble a catch, though that may be down to the fact that the more difficult balls they punch clear rather than attempting to catch. I am sure the defenders in front of them feel confident that when they do come out, there is a good chance of them dealing with the ball.



Kicking: This is an area of strength for both but Alisson has a clear advantage here. There is a reason he picked up so many assists in Italy and has managed some since arriving at Liverpool. When he gets the ball in his hands, if there is an open runner then he can find him with a highly accurate long kick. I think he is probably the best I have ever seen, which is why he has an advantage over Ederson, who is also often very good with his long pass.



One-on-ones: This is extremely difficult to judge, both play for such dominant sides that they very rarely get put in these situations. I do not think it would be fair to judge on what I have seen, as it is not really enough to make a genuine decision.



Passing: Put the ball at their feet and both of them can play, probably as well as most outfield players. However, I have to give a slight edge to Ederson here, which is why he is so well suited to a Guardiola team. While Alisson is excellent for a keeper, Ederson is even better. It is his best quality as a goalkeeper.



Reflexes: Both are excellent, with lightning reflexes. You would back them both to make reflex saves most other keepers would not manage to get to. There is little to pick between them.



Rushing Out: The pair of them are quick to come off their line and also tend to be off their line looking to sweep up behind the defence, which means they are never far from the action. They can be rash, but usually they get to the ball. Ederson is slightly more reckless than Alisson, which gives the edge to Alisson, but there is little in it.



Throwing: Another part of the game that both keepers excel in. They can launch quick counters with a long and accurate throw. However it is rare that either get the chance, as teams do not tend to get high enough up the pitch against either Liverpool or Manchester City to allow a throw out.



Composure: While both can get ruffled when put under pressure on the ball and make a mistake (like any player), Alisson has a clear advantage in this field. While Ederson can fall to pieces after a mistake and have a poor game, Alisson very rarely makes more than one mistake in a game. Usually he learns from his mistakes as well. Ederson's rashness tends to come to the fore after an error as he has lost his composure.



Concentration: Both have shown themselves to be very good at keeping themselves focused, despite having little to do. This season in particular, Alisson has massively impressed with his ability to pull a save out of nowhere after spending long periods watching the game with little to do.



Decisions: Another area both could improve on. They can both come for balls they are never going to get to, though Ederson needs to learn when to stop and retreat in those cases.



Positioning: This is a weakness of Ederson's game and why he is not as likely to pull off saves as Alisson. Ederson simply does not get himself positioned as well. Cutting down angles, both keepers are excellent at, but just general positioning is a real strength of Alisson's game, but not of Ederson's. I am probably being harsh calling it a weakness, as he is positioning himself well enough to be a Premier League level keeper, but when you are talking about being the best then you have to get this absolutely spot on. Ederson is just not quite there. There are a number of times he will get himself off to one side by a noticeable amount. Strikers that work with a goalkeeper coach, such as Xavi Valero, who gives them information about opposition keepers, will learn that weakness and prey on it by hitting shots to his other side.



Vision: Alisson has shown at Roma and (when he gets the chance) with Liverpool that he has excellent vision and can spot an open forward making a run when he has the ball. That is why he picks up assists each season. Ederson has not really had the opportunities to do so, but he has shown little inclination to even attempt those kind of ball with Man City. Perhaps that is simply a consequence of the way the team plays, but you do think if he could see the opportunity in training they would play for it in matches.



Acceleration: Both are surprisingly quick for keepers but Ederson has an edge here. You would expect people that big to take a while to get going but they come flying out of their area when needed.



Agility: Both excel and are agile enough to keep most shots out and, in Ederson's case, mainly make up for his slight weakness in positioning. While Alisson can use his to pull wonder saves out of the bag at times, Ederson rarely does, but that is mainly down to that slight positional weakness, which leaves him reaching.



Overall: There is one clear winner here, as was proven over the season played so far. Alisson is Brazil's number one for a good reason. He is simply a better goalkeeper than Ederson, though they are both at the right teams for their way of playing. If you swapped them around, Alisson would still be seen as world class at Man City, but Ederson's weaknesses would be exposed much more at Liverpool. That is a key difference for me.





Suggested by Deependra

Agree2 Disagree0

21 Apr 2020 19:46:05
Thank you Ed. Really interesting read. Clearly you have spent a lot of time researching and writing this.

{Ed001's Note - cheers mate, really glad you enjoyed.}

Liverpool Teams 2


Liverpool Teams 3

 
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