In keeping a clean sheet against Stoke City on Saturday, Joel Robles became the first Everton ‘keeper to prevent the opposition from scoring in three games in a row since… Joel Robles.
His performance at the Potteries, which also saw Everton register a 3-0 winning scoreline for the third time in succession, has got the Everton faithful purring. They have even penned a new song about the Spaniard, who lifted the FA Cup with Roberto Martinez with Wigan before he made the same switch as his boss.
He also achieved this feat last term while filling in for number one shot-stopper Tim Howard. Robles’ performances last season saw Liverpool, Crystal Palace and West Brom draw blanks against him. Even back then, questions were being asked about Tim ‘The Secretary of Defense’ Howard’s performances and this season has been more of the same.
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Being tenth on the list of Premier League keepers with 100 or more clean sheets, one would expect Howard to have performed better than he has this season – keeping a mere five clean sheets with only one of them coming in 2016. This was, however, an inspired performance against a Manchester City team that had one of the Premier League’s best forwards in Sergio Aguero leading the line.
Howard has reportedly appeared on the Major League Soccer draft list for the next season and, therefore, his future looks set to be away from Goodison Park- boosting the chances of his understudy replacing him on a full-time basis.
Robles’ form and Everton’s apparent new found ability to see out matches have come at the time of another important factor. John Stones has been out injured. Is the absence of a man willing to take that extra risk in his own third playing a part? Probably, but nothing should be taken away from Robles.
Another factor that may have an impact is the Goodison takeover that is rumoured to have had the green light. The bid is led by American businessmen John Jay Moores and Charles Noell and could be completed within the fortnight.
Could their arrival mean that they will want their fellow countryman Howard to stay? One would hope they would not have such a say in team affairs, but you never know.
For now though, as the new song says: Robles, you can play in goal again!