Surely a candidate for unluckiest Newcastle player of the season so far – goalkeeper Karl Darlow.
In a typical over-reaction, many Newcastle fans were happy to write-off the keeper after a nervy first Premier League appearance was topped off by a mistake for Darren Fletcher’s winner, when United lost to West Brom on 28 December 2015.
Fast forward to May 2016 and Karl Darlow could be counted as one of the few positives of a dismal season.
Rob Elliot’s injury thrust the former Forest man into the relegation battle and once Rafa Benitez got his feet under the table, Darlow was outstanding.
As it stands at the moment, Karl Darlow has conceded just one goal in the last nine hours of first team football he has played for Newcastle, yet still can’t get a game in the Championship.
An excellent performance and clean sheet on Tuesday saw Darlow remind Rafa Benitez of his credentials, only 72 hours after a less than convincing display by Matz Sels.
Working backwards, Darlow has kept clean sheets in his two (EFL Cup) matches this season, conceded one against Spurs in that 5-1 end of season, a clean sheet at Villa (0-0), a clean sheet and penalty save when beating Palace 1-0, then no goals in the final hour of the Liverpool away game – when Newcastle conceded twice early on before regrouping and drawing the match 2-2.
Rafa Benitez clearly decided on Matz Sels as his number one before a ball was kicked/saved and Karl Darlow is the victim, as between the posts is the only position that has been a constant in every Championship match so far, every other position having two or more different players occupying it in the various league games.
However, a goalkeeper who lets one goal in from nine hours of football, you surely have to see him as a potential change?
I think Rafa Benitez could indeed drop a surprise and we could see Karl Darlow keeping his place after Tuesday night – another clean sheet at Villa Park would do nicely as I find it difficult to see our lot failing to score at the other end.