Illan Meslier has been unfairly criticised at times for Leeds United as a closer look at his performances reveal how good he has actually been.
Marcelo Bielsa’s style of play means the defence and the goalkeeper will come under pressure when in possession.
That means mistakes are always possible and even the best are vulnerable to errors – take Alisson’s recent display against Manchester City as an example.
Meslier undoubtedly cost us goals against Arsenal last time out but pundits’ criticism of the keeper was too severe and unwarranted.
Both Graeme Souness and Jimmy Floyd-Hasselbaink called him out for his mistakes but glossed over his overall contribution this season, which has been a positive.
He carries a big responsibility for the way we play and at 20 has coped remarkably well with Premier League football.
Given the criticism, with former Leeds shot-stopper Nigel Martyn also piling in earlier in the season, some of Meslier’s stats may catch people by surprise.
For example, his 86 saves rank him third in the division (having played less games than the two who have made more), while he has also been brilliant on the ball.
Jordan Pickford and Alex McCarthy are in fact the only regulars to rank higher in passes completed.
That shows how effective Meslier has been in two key departments, and he has impressed in another area too.
A total return of 12 aerials won this campaign is only bettered by Karl Darlow (WhoScored).
That is some effort for a goalkeeper enjoying his debut Premier League season, not to mention the fact he is still starting out in his career.
David De Gea also received criticism when he first arrived in England, but with Sir Alex Ferguson’s support he quickly became a top goalkeeper.
Fortunately, Bielsa continues to back Meslier in a similar fashion and forgives the mistakes he makes.
It is all too easy to judge a player for a blunder or miscalculation, but a look at Meslier’s overall season paints a very different picture and proves the pundits are wrong in their assessment.
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