Alex McCarthy Or Fraser Forster Is Becoming A Nice Problem To Have For Ralph
Monday, 25th Jan 2021 12:36
Alex McCarthy looks likely to return for Southampton when they play Arsenal at St Mary's for the second time in four days on Tuesday evening, but after another clean sheet for Fraser Forster Ralph Hasenhuttl has a nice problem on his hands.
Ironically at a time when Ralph Hasenhuttl is struggling for cover in some positions, he has now found that in goal he has the choice of two goalkeepers capped by England whilst at the club.
Alex McCarthy has been number one choice this season and had played every game up until the start of January when he was forced to self isolate after catching Covid 19.
In stepped Fraser Forster for the game against Liverpool and the big keeper put in a good performance to keep a clean sheet in a backs to the wall victory, McCarthy returned for the trip to Leicester City, but with two FA Cup ties in the space of a few days it was Forster who played in both of them and seemed to be getting his confidence back after that solid Liverpool run out, again keeping a clean sheet.
At the moment Ralph has made it clear who is the number one saying :
“Forster deserves now to be our cup goalkeeper now, I think. He has helped us through to the next round and he has another clean sheet too – he is doing a fantastic job.
“We have two really good goalkeepers so there is no reason why I shouldn’t trust him again.
“The goalkeepers are getting better and better. They’re coming along really strongly and the praise goes to my goalkeeper coach and the good work that he does.”
So it is expected that Alex McCarthy will step back between the sticks for the visit of Arsenal in the League on Tuesday night and indeed is likely to hold that position going forward in the Premier League with Forster being benched until the home game against Wolverhampton Wanderers in the FA Cup provisionally on Saturday 13th February.
But McCarthy will now have to be on his game for the three games in between and for the first time in 15 months since he took over from Alex Gunn he has serious competition for his place.
Forster has kept three straight clean sheets and although one of the was against League One Shrewsbury, the other two have been against two tough teams in Champions Liverpool and in form Arsenal.
There will be those who are uncharitable who will say that he didn't have a lot to do in either of those games, but the fact is what he did have to do he did well and his confidence seems to be rising.
Indeed sometimes for a keeper it is not always about the saves you make, but the way you go about things, yes neither Arsenal or Liverpool had many shots on target for him to save , but it could also be said the defence looked a lot more comfortable with him behind them, they seemed to know what balls he would come and collect and those he wouldn't and that meant they knew what they needed to deal with and what they didn't.
That sounds an obvious thing to say, but the best keepers are not always the best all rounders, Antti Niemi was a great shot stopper but not great on coming for crosses beyond his six yard box, but our defenders knew that and got the job done.
That was the case on Saturday against the Gunners, Forster did not come off his line for crosses much, but he was big and strong behind his defence.
At this moment in time no one is saying that Alex McCarthy should be dropped, but for 15 months he has almost been undroppable due to there being no effective back up with first Angus Gunn and then Fraser Forster being suspect due to low confidence.
Now Forster is back after a great year at Celtic and ready to step in if McCarthy doesn't play to the highest standards, that has to be good for the team and hopefully he will push the current number one all the way and up both their games .
Photo: Action Images
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