At the moment, Newcastle United have two players battling it out for the number one spot; Englishman Karl Darlow and Belgian Matz Sels (with Tim Krul on loan at Ajax and Rob Elliot still injured). There have been many debates on which keeper should start and I will now delve into this argument.
Darlow was originally brought into the first team last season when Rob Elliot and Tim Krul were both injured whilst on international duty. He certainly delivered, taking everyone by surprise with his performances, most notably his penalty save against former Newcastle man Yohan Cabaye. Sels, on the other hand, was bought in this season’s summer transfer window for £5 million from Belgian club Gent. Expectations were high but Newcastle fans have been disappointed by his performances so far.
The Belgian’s first match for Newcastle was against Fulham, a match that ended in a 1-0 loss for the Magpies. I think that he looked very shaky and low on confidence. He also made two high-profile mistakes in the 1-1 draw against Aston Villa and the EFL Cup tie against Hull. In the Villa match, he flapped at a corner, allowing Tshibola to knock in a shot to draw the match. His second big mistake was in the penalty shootout against Hull, where he produced some pretty lacklustre saves. This has led to Sels becoming public enemy number one on Tyneside, although, to be fair to him, he has produced some good performances and saves.
Darlow, on the other hand, is being hailed as a local hero. His performance against Nottingham Forest has skyrocketed his popularity. The Englishman almost single-handedly won the match for Newcastle after saving two penalties against the Nottinghamshire club. Alas, this wasn’t enough to salvage the game for nine-men Newcastle who went on to lose 2-1 in a game featuring some very suspect refereeing from Stephen Martin. The 26-year old has started five out of the past six matches and has performed very well. His world class performance on Friday must surely solidify his starting spot on the teamsheet.
Statistics wise the two are quite even. Sels has played nine matches whilst Darlow has played ten. Both have four clean sheets each but Darlow has conceded nine goals, two more than his counterpart. But the number of saves and catches is where Darlow really comes into his own. He has 21 saves compared to Sels’ 17 and has 36 catches compared to Sels’ 24. But keep in mind that stats don’t always tell the full story.
I’ll finish this article with my opinion; I believe that Darlow is the best keeper and should start. I have been a big critic of Sels this season. Moreover, Darlow has more experience in English football which gives him the upper hand against Sels. There have been murmurings of his former club, Gent, wanting him back on loan, an idea that I for one am a big fan of. Maybe Sels needs a confidence boost or some more game time, only time will tell.
Featured image credit: Brian Hargadon