Everton picked up a vital point away at Manchester City on Saturday afternoon as they maintained a solid start to Premier League life under Ronald Koeman. They now sit 6th in the Premier League and look well built for a challenge for the European spots.
But the point they gained on Saturday was massively thanks to their man between the sticks, Maarten Stekelenburg, who astonishingly managed to save two penalties. Both of these penalty saves were made when Everton were in the lead, and although he did eventually let a goal in, it was his penalty saves that made the crucial contribution for Everton and earned them a point. This duo of saves made him only the 7th keeper in Premier League history to save two penalties in one game.
It wasn’t just penalties that the Dutchman saved though. Astonishingly he made a huge 7 stops, with WhoScored awarding him a match rating of 9.62. He deserved no less than that. Many questioned Foeman when Stekelenburg was signed and chosen to be the clubs new 1st choice goalkeeper after the Dutchman has had a few questionable spells in England. But Koeman’s trust in the stopper appears to be being repaid so far, with the keeper no doubt being the man of the match in this fixture.
Perhaps if there is to be one criticism of his performance against City (harsh I know) it would be his distribution. Too often he did not find a Everton player when distributing the ball, in fact less than half of his attempts found a teammate. This may be an area to work on for him if he is to win all of the fans over completely.
Here’s how Twitter reacted to Stekelenburg’s heroics on Saturday.
Another really good save from Stekelenburg. He’s really channeled his inner Lev Yashin today.
— City Watch (@City_Watch) October 15, 2016
Stekelenburg in the fantasy footy. Big day!
— Spion Klopp (@TheKopHQ) October 15, 2016
— Freebets.co.uk (@freebetscouk) October 16, 2016
What a signing STEKELENBURG is quality goal keeper
— steven taylor (@steven_t93) October 15, 2016
Stekelenburg was outstanding yesterday, lots of quality saves. Imagine how many we would have conceded with Star Jump in goal
— Tommy (@bluetom77) October 16, 2016
— Sean Normoyle (@beannormoyle) October 15, 2016
Everton had a lot of problems at the back last season, many of them came in their defensive personnel and after losing John Stones many fans feared it would get worse. But Koeman has made some good signings in Stekelenburg and Williams – whilst his management style has also helped plug the gaps in defence.
When Joe Hart became available late in the transfer window, many tipped Everton to pounce with doubts over Stekelenburg’s ability to be the number one for a club seeking European football. It is still early days but his performance on Saturday will at least help install more confidence in those fans that had doubted him.