In the aftermath of Aston Villa’s 3-0 defeat to Manchester United on Monday, which leaves Villa loitering around the relegation zone, you could forgive USMNT ‘keeper Brad Guzan for being a bit downbeat.
But he should be all smiles. After a season where Guzan has flourished as an EPL regular, the former Chivas USA star now ranks among the best goalkeepers in the league, according to these stats.
Guzan is top in four categories, accurate goal kicks (196), percentage of saves in the box (68.2%), successful high claims (82) and the brilliant named category, successful smothers (10).
But if Aston Villa are relegated, should Guzan remain loyal to the team who gave him a shot in the EPL? No doubt there will be plenty of suitors waiting to pounce for Guzan’s signature if Villa do drop down to the Championship. However, Guzan has waited a long time to claim the No. 1 jersey at Villa Park, so he may stick around regardless.
A few EPL teams do spring to mind as possible destinations for Guzan, when you scroll through the ‘keepers they currently have on their roster. Arsenal are the team that stands out most, with both Wojciech Szczęsny and Łukasz Fabiański struggling to claim the starters spot at the Emirates. Could they swoop for Guzan in the summer? Elsewhere, Fulham have ageing Australian Mark Schwarzer in goal but could do with a new No.1 at Craven Cottage. And we all know Fulham love to sign a USMNT player.
So it turns out whether or not Guzan does keep Aston Villa in the EPL, this season has been a breakout year that will shape the rest of his career. The long-line of US ‘keepers in the EPL looks set to continue, in Guzan’s safe hands. But it may not be with Villa.
The group stage of qualification is complete, as 20 teams have clinched a berth at EURO 2016, which kicks off next summer in France.
The top-two finishers in each group automatically qualified, as did the best third-place side out of all the groups (Turkey). France qualified automatically as the host nation.
[ MORE: EURO 2016 roundup ]
That leaves eight third-place teams to battle for the final four spots through a two-legged play-off. The draw for the matchups will take place on October 18, and those matches will be held from November 12-17 as a home-and-home play-off.
- Czech Republic
- Turkey (automatically qualified as best third-place side)
- Bosnia and Herzegovina (qualified for play-off)
- Ukraine (qualified for play-off)
- Republic of Ireland (qualified for play-off)
- Slovenia (qualified for play-off)
- Northern Ireland
- Hungary (qualified for play-off)
- Sweden (qualified for play-off)
- Norway (qualified for play-off)
- Denmark (qualified for play-off)
The group stage of qualifying for the 2016 European Championship has come to a close, and one of the top teams in the world will not be playing in France next summer.
Netherlands 2-3 Czech Republic
The Netherlands finished second at the 2010 World Cup and third at the 2014 World Cup, but have failed to qualify for EURO 2016. Playing in front of a home crowd in a must-win match against the Czech Republic, the Dutch got off to a dreadful start, falling behind 2-0 as manager Danny Blind was forced to make a substitution within the opening 40 minutes. The Czech Republic was sent to ten men before the break, but an own-goal from Robin Van Persie made it 3-0 as the Dutch couldn’t recover. A disastrous result for the Netherlands, as big changes will surely come from the top down.
[ RELATED: David de Gea fighting for starting goalkeeper position with Spain ]
Italy 2-1 Norway
Italy finishes atop Group H without a loss after defeating Norway 2-1 today. Norway took the lead through Norwich City’s Alexander Tettey, but late goals from Alessandro Florenzi and Southampton’s Graziano Pelle gave the Italians all three points.
Malta 0-1 Croatia
With Norway’s loss, Croatia jumped into second place in Group H and secured qualification to EURO 2016 with a 1-0 win away at Malta. Inter Milan’s Ivan Perisic scored the game’s only goal, as Croatia advances despite having one point deducted due to inappropriate actions from their fans.
Elsewhere in EURO qualifying
Turkey 1-0 Iceland
Latvia 0-1 Kazakhstan
Belgium 3-1 Israel
Wales 2-0 Andorra
Cyprus 2-3 Bosnia and Herzegovina
Bulgaria 2-0 Azerbaijan