When Newcastle goalkeeper Tim Krul was injured in this weekend’s derby, there was little doubt the Netherlands international would miss the rest of this quickly expiring season. So today’s news is less surprise than confirmation, with the 25-year-old scheduled for surgery on Monday to repair damage caused by a dislocated shoulder. The club expects him to resume at the end of July, leaving the squad to navigate the season’s last five matches without their number one.
After starting all 38 league matches for the Magpies last season, injuries have limited Krul to 24 starts this season. The number he has accrued haven’t been that impressive, a reflection of the problems Alan Pardew’s had along the back line. Krul’s only kept four clean sheets and has conceded 40 times while making 75 stops, numbers which don’t match the reputation he’s cultivated over the last two-plus seasons.
But when you look at the numbers for Newcastle’s other keepers, you see Krul’s value. Krul is allowing 1.69 goals per 90 minutes. The tandem of Robert Elliott and Steven Harper are allowing 2.02. Krul’s saving 65.2 percent of the shots he faces .His backups are only stopped 60.4 percent.
None of those numbers are particularly impressive, but the comparison shows what Newcastle’s losing. A strong, decisive keeper behind a poor defense, Krul’s absence could be worth a one or two (1.65) goals over the next three games, if we go by the rate of goals allowed alone.
For a team on the fringe of relegation, one with the Magpies’ run-in, the injury’s timing is poor. Newcastle are at eighth place West Brom this weekend before a visit from seventh place Liverpool on the 27th. Then Newcastle visit West Ham and QPR before finishing the season at home against Arsenal. With the exception of QPR, those are all teams that will provide significant tests of Elliott.
Currently on 35 points, Newcastle are four clear of the drop, though one of the teams battling relegation (Wigan) have two matches in hand. While a return to the Championship looks improbable at this point, Newcastle will be underdogs in four of their last five matches. That could open the door for a nightmare scenario, one in which the one-to-two goals difference in keepers could really matter.
Sunday’s transfer rumor roundup: Vardy to Chelsea, Man City; Real wants Neymar
Neymar is playing as well as any player in the world, so it makes sense that anyone would be interested in signing the player were it a possibility, but would the Barcelona star considering swapping shirts with his current club’s biggest rival? Florentino Perez wants to woo the Brazilian to the Bernabeu, according to AS, though it’s an absolute head-scratcher as to why — aside from Perez’s wild ego — this move could go down.
Jamie Vardy could leave Leicester City, says the Independent. The thought here is that the Foxes couldn’t refuse a $45 million offer from a giant like Chelsea or Manchester City. Straight swap for Diego Costa (We kid, we kid; How would the mercurial striker possibly live with Tony Pulis?).
Burnley defender Michael Keane continues to impress as the Clarets aim for a Premier League return, and The Sun says Aston Villa is joining Manchester United and Everton with interest in the 22-year-old back.
The same publication says Everton back John Stones is taking Spanish lessons in preparation for a move to Barcelona (although many people speak Spanish in soccer, of course). The Sunday Mirror says Arsenal could also move for Stones.
Sky Italia says Leicester’s Andrej Kramaric is looking toward, essentially, all the big names in Serie A. AC Milan and Juventus are among the clubs mentioned by the report.
Jack Butland is having a strong season for Stoke, and the young English keeper is wanted by both of the Merseyside’s Premier League clubs, according to The Sun. The price? $30 million.
Harry Kane forced Asmir Begovic into two good saves in the first half and Song Hueng-min should’ve scored in the second half with a header but even after after a grueling 5,000-mile round trip to Azerbaijan on Thursday night for Europa League action which saw them arrive back in England at 6 a.m. local time Friday, manager Mauricio Pochettino wasn’t pleased his team didn’t win to move into the top four.
“No, not really happy. We deserved more than we got, so I was disappointed, but it’s true that I’m proud of the players. For me they’re big heroes,” Pochettino told ProSoccerTalk. “The effort was massive. Chelsea played one of their best games of the season, and when you make the effort we showed and the maturity, you have to be happy with your players but disappointed with one point.”
With Spurs now stretching their unbeaten run to 13 games this season — their one and only defeat in 2015-16 came on the opening day of the season, 1-0 at Manchester United — Pochettino was asked if his side, who sit five points off the top, should be pleased that a draw against Chelsea felt like two points dropped.
The Argentine coach then released his inner Jose Mourinho — the pair have a close relationship and before Poch came to coach in England he spoke at length to Mourinho — dishing out a backhanded compliment to the master of the backhanded compliment.
“This is a good thing. We play the champions. It’s good. You got the feeling that Chelsea were a small team and Tottenham can win every game we play,” Pochettino said. “It’s very difficult, though. Not easy. We’re the youngest team in the PL and the maturity we showed today we have shown in different games. We have to feel happy. It’s a good thing that, maybe, we are a bigger club than Chelsea or that we deserve more. We showed good performances in the last few games, and I’m happy, but we have to keep working hard. We’ve only had 14 games in the PL and it’s too early to think about the end of the season.”
Whether or not those comments were lost in translation from a man who is still getting used to English as his second language, Pochettino clearly felt Spurs deserved more than the point they got and it’s apparent from the differing predicaments both teams find themselves in that Spurs have more chance of winning the title and finishing in the top four than Chelsea this season.