The one benefit of Premier League suspension – The availability of this player for Newcastle United
Just before Premier League football was suspended due to the virus outbreak, Newcastle United won their final match, a much needed victory away at Southampton which helped pull the club away from the immediate threat of relegation.
Despite the delight at securing a vital three points, it was tempered by the news that Martin Dubravka had sustained a knee injury which was likely to see him miss the next 6-8 weeks.
This would have been a significant blow to a team which has been so reliant on its outstanding goalkeeper ever since he signed in January 2018.
Following that incredible debut win against Manchester United, Dubravka has been the most consistent goalkeeper the club has had since Shay Given, making 79 consecutive league appearances, and generally being outstanding, bar the odd wobble in 2018-19 season.
However, his performances went up a level in 2019-20, leaving many observers to speculate whether he was now the best goalkeeper in the league on current form.
This season Dubravka is top of the charts when it comes to saves made, with 117, which is 13 more than his closest competitor, Bernd Leno of Arsenal.
He also has nine clean sheets, placing him fifth on the list, just two behind Burnley’s Nick Pope who has 11 clean sheets to his name.
Dubravka’s statistics are nothing short of outstanding and I have no doubt whatsoever that we would have been firmly in the relegation zone had it not been for his consistently excellent performances.
Which is why he would have been such a big loss had the season continued. Karl Darlow isn’t a bad keeper but is nowhere near the level of Martin Dubravka.
It’s not just his shot stopping which is so vital to the performance of the team. He has a calm, assured presence that breeds confidence among his defenders and the rest of the team.
As football gets back underway this week I think every single Newcastle fan will be relieved to see the big Slovakian between the sticks once more.
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