Claiming high balls fed into the box may be a dying art in modern football, but there are still those who would rather claim a cross than throw a wild punch at it.
Some goalkeepers positively thrive on the feel of leather on glove, with there always the risk when going with the knuckles rather than the palms that an attempted clearance will become a costly flap.
It has been suggested down the years that the reluctance to take control of high crosses or set-pieces is an approach born out of continental Europe or South America, with British shot-stoppers placing greater emphasis on controlling their penalty area.
Looking at this season’s Premier League statistics, there is little to back up those claims.
In fact, the man with the safest hands in the business when it comes to the collection of high balls may surprise you.
We are not talking about a leading light from Chelsea, Manchester City or Arsenal, or even Southampton’s tightest defence in the English top-flight.
Instead, we are dealing with a goalkeeper who has faced criticism in the past for his lack of composure and one who spent the best part of seven years filling back-up duties at Emirates Stadium.
|Team||Total High Claim||Good High Claim||Cross Not Claimed||Saves||Appearances||Mins Played|
|Julian Speroni||C. Palace||22||22||6||29||11||955|
|Brad Guzan||Aston Villa||20||19||1||34||11||990|
|Ben Foster||West Brom||13||12||0||27||10||900|
|Joe Hart||Man City||13||13||1||23||10||900|
|Allan McGregor||Hull City||10||10||0||19||6||540|
|David de Gea||Man Utd||8||8||1||24||11||990|
Swansea City’s Lukasz Fabianski sits at the top of the Premier League tree, with the Poland international taking considerably more high balls than any of his rivals and failing with only one effort when taking the aerial route.
It comes as something of a surprise to find the former Arsenal man leading the way as he is among the least commanding Premier League keepers to look at. He is not a towering Fraser Forster or Thibaut Courtois or a sprightly David de Gea or Hugo Lloris.
It appears as though Fabianski has quite a spring in his step, though, and provides a reassuring presence behind Garry Monk’s back four at the Liberty Stadium.
Picking out a few of the other numbers to jump out on the list, United and Liverpool supporters may be slightly concerned, but probably not all that surprised, to find that De Gea and Simon Mignolet are not the most prolific when it comes to high catches, while Crystal Palace followers would expect better from club legend Julian Speroni after seeing six attempted claims pass him by.