West Ham United goalkeeper Lukasz Fabianski made four key saves last Saturday afternoon when Manuel Pellegrini’s Hammers drew 1-1 with Roy Hodgson’s Crystal Palace in the Premier League at Selhurst Park.
Today, we’re going to analyse each of them, which came at different key stages of the Irons’ second consecutive draw, keeping them level, ahead and then level again, in our statistics-driven tactical analysis three days after the match. Join us.
Fabianski’s first stop of the afternoon in south London arrived in the 18th minute of proceedings when the London derby was goalless. The Polish international started the day hoping for his fifth clean sheet of the season and kept himself on track for it early on.
As we can see in the below wyscout.com image, with all the images used in this analysis coming from our good friends over at Wyscout, Palace midfielder James McArthur was slipped in-behind the visiting defence. He had time and space to get his shot away and would have been expected to score by the Selhurst faithful.
However, Fabianski, who was about to make his 98th save of the 2018/2019 season, going on to make his 99th, 100th and 101st on the day to reaffirm his position at the top of the PL saves list for this campaign, had other ideas. He threw himself to his left and produced an excellent save, pushing the ball away from danger and preventing the hosts breaking the deadlock in the far corner.
Roughly 13 minutes later, and after club captain Mark Noble had put West Ham ahead from the penalty spot with his first of the season, the second save of the day would arrive. And it came from very similar circumstances, with the hosts splitting open the backline to get a clear effort off from close-range.
And once again, as we can see below, Fabianski was forced to dive from the shot from Christian Benteke, goalless this term, to protect the opposite corner, across the face of goal. Even from this fantastic position, it’s been very difficult to beat the Pole this season and so it proved once more, as he saved a certain equaliser from the Eagles.
Unfortunately for Pellegrini’s side, Fabianski was beaten in unlucky circumstance on 76 minutes by Wilfried Zaha, his strike from an angle deflecting off Issa Diop and rocketing into the roof of the net, while the 33-year-old could only stand motionless in his goal. Four minutes later, Zaha swarmed in and tried his luck from the left-centre of the penalty area.
He too went for the far corner and it was a part of Fabianski’s goal that he had protected well all afternoon, the ball wasn’t going to get past him from an effort or angle akin to this. That fact is clear from the below image, with the former Arsenal man deflecting the ball out of the box on the right and far from the danger.
The final 15 minutes of a fiery derby in Selhurst would primarily involve the home side dominating and searching first for a leveller and then a dramatic winner and this would continue until the last. It led to the strong Hammer of the Year contender making his fourth and final save of the stalemate and arguably the easiest, but the most important to win his team a point.
On a poor afternoon of defending for the East Londoners, a Palace attacker was able to get free in-behind one final time and it really wasn’t the man they would have wanted the chance to fall to. However, Zaha snapped at his shot and failed to make the most of a second chance to snatch victory for the relegation-threatened Eagles. This made for a simple catch for the resolute Fabianski, rounding off yet another excellent afternoon between the sticks.
The four key saves made by Fabianski in West Ham’s 1-1 draw with Crystal Palace over the weekend were not only impressive because of the circumstances they came in and the significance they carried in terms of the overall result. But their high quality, as well.
Though this isn’t the first time that the Poland man has won points for his new club in his first campaign at London Stadium and it certainly won’t be the last either. It’s these displays and these saves that have made him a Player of the Year front runner for the Hammers and one of the best ‘keepers in the Premier League in ‘18/19 so far.
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