Adrian burst onto the scene for West Ham last season and hugely impressed, even during the club’s spell of conceding for fun. He is now ready to step up and claim the number one spot on a permanent basis.
The 27-year-old, who joined from Real Betis last summer, dislodged the experienced Jussi Jaaskelainen as the Hammers' first-choice 'keeper following a string of fine displays last season.
The battle between the pair was good to watch as Sam Allardyce was faced with a selection headache rather than a nightmare as with many of the other positions of his squad where he lacked depth and quality.
Jaaskelainen played in all of West Ham’s Premier League matches during the 2012/13 season. He was also runner-up for the Hammer of the Year award that year, beaten only by Winston Reid.
The former Finland international has kept 19 clean sheets in 56 appearances for West Ham, including eight in 18 appearances last season.
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The 39-year-old is vastly experienced at Premier League level and has been rewarded with a new one-year contract extension at Upton Park due to his continued form in-between the sticks.
Adrian’s arrival last summer initially seemed to have little impact on the starting line-up after a fantastic defensive start to the season and with Jussi still looking as sharp as ever.
However, the Spaniard’s patience eventually paid off and following a few stellar performances in the Capital One Cup, he was handed his long-awaited Premier League debut away at Manchester United, a match that ended in a 3-1 defeat for the Hammers.
Adrian went on to make 20 appearances and kept six clean sheets in the process. Although this statistic may not seem that impressive at face-value, anyone who watched the ‘keeper last season will know what quality and potential he possesses.
He claimed the Man of the Match award after successfully shutting out Chelsea in a 0-0 draw at Stamford Bridge and became a big hit with Hammers’ fans for his spectacular shot-saving ability and confidence in the penalty area.
He joins a long line of talented Spanish goalkeepers and appears to be in the same mould as Iker Casillas, Pepe Reina and David De Gea, which speaks volumes of his talent.
Jussi’s record, in comparison to Adrian’s, is partially inaccurate because of the difference in the defensive personell that has played in front of him.
Adrian has never had a full-strength defence to protect him and therefore has been much less fortunate in terms of conceding goals. Furthermore, Adrian has played in tough fixtures such as the two Manchester clubs away and a home match versus Arsenal in which they conceded eight times in total.
Neither 'keeper has been particularly worse than the other. In fact, there was little to decide between the two throughout the season. However, Adrian has a long-term future at the club so he needs to be introduced into the squad as early as possible.
He is learning his trade in the Premier League alongside one of the most experienced ‘keepers and that is sure to benefit him in the long run as his development continues.
Jaaskelainen has been a fantastic servant for the club and can definitely be relied upon to do a job when called upon, however we’ve all seen Adrian’s ability shine through some dismal team performances and his star quality will only improve with the more game time he gets.
Do you think Adrian should be West Ham’s no.1 for the new season?
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