Hugo Lloris’ Inconsitency Huge Concern For Spurs

April 9, 2019

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Not so long ago, Hugo Lloris was considered one of the Premier League’s very best goalkeepers. Up there with David De Gea, it was once a legitimate question to ask – who would you prefer? Now, the line of question has been turned against the Frenchman. Instead, it’s more common to hear his Tottenham Hotspur future questioned.

Mistakes have been creeping into Lloris’ game for a while now. Even the crowning moment of his career – winning the World Cup as France captain last summer – was tinged by a blunder in the final against Croatia. Indeed, there have been more than a few stumbles and fumbles, but few have had the consequences of the blunder made against Liverpool just over a week ago.

With seconds left on the clock, all Lloris had to do was gather a somewhat tame header from Mohamed Salah. Instead, he palmed it into the legs of his own defender, giving Liverpool a potentially season-defining goal. From a Spurs perspective, it saw them sucked well and truly into the scrap for a top-four finish having looked secure in third place just a few weeks ago.

“When you are a goalkeeper you know the responsibility,” said Lloris after his howler against Liverpool. “Of course you question yourself and the good thing there is another game in three days, we need to switch off from today and prepare the next one. That is the best way to forget.”

Lloris will be presented with one such opportunity for redemption this week when Manchester City travel to North London to take on Spurs in the first leg of the Champions League quarter-final. However, the Frenchman will also be faced with an image of how far behind the goalkeeping curve he has fallen.

Ederson has made a profound impact since signing for Manchester City in the summer of 2017. To many, he was the final piece of Pep Guardiola’s jigsaw, providing the catalyst for a record-breaking season last term. Unconventional in his methods, but distinctly modern in his abilities, Ederson has shown himself to be the quintessential Guardiola goalkeeper.

In the mould of Manuel Neuer, Ederson isn’t just defined by the shots he saves or the crosses he claims, but by the position he holds on the pitch. Not quite the sweeper keeper that Neuer was for Guardiola’s Bayern Munich, the Brazilian is still a crucial part of Man City’s overall game plan, demanding the ball be played to his feet more often than any other goalkeeper in the Premier League.

There has been much focus on Alisson Becker this season, such has been the influence of the Brazilian on Liverpool’s league form since joining from Roma last summer, but Ederson still holds a strong claim to being English football’s most consistent goalkeeper at present, even if he has flown under the radar somewhat.

Upon first pitching up at Spurs seven years ago, Lloris was considered to be a member of this new goalkeeping breed – good with his feet, more than just a shot-stopper. But over time that presumption has been tested, with the results not so glowing. The scuffed, long-pass straight down the middle, straight to an opponent, has become an unwelcome hallmark of Lloris’ game of late.

Some have even called for Spurs to find a replacement for the Frenchman, as unlikely as that seems. Spurs’ transfer budget will still be restricted by the debt-laden on them by the construction of New White Hart Lane and so if there is money to spend (keep in mind Spurs haven’t signed a single player since January 2018) it will surely be used to plug some of the holes that have emerged elsewhere in the squad. In midfield, for instance.

Despite all this, Lloris can still turn in the odd match-winning performance from time-to-time. Look at his stoppage-time penalty save from Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang in last month’s North London derby. Or his display in the second leg of Spurs’ Champions League last 16 tie against Borussia Dortmund.

But at a time when goalkeeping is about more than just goalkeeping Lloris risks being left behind. Mistakes have raised questions against the Frenchman and yet that doesn’t quite cover the extent of the issues Spurs face with their current number one. When they take on City this week they will look to the other end of the pitch and see everything Lloris isn’t.

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Author: Graham Ruthven

Graham Ruthven is a football writer and broadcaster based in Glasgow, Scotland. He was written for the New York Times, the Guardian, Eurosport, Bleacher Report, Four Four Two, The Scotsman and others. He is also a football shirt aficionado and still maintains to this day that Dennis Bergkamp didn’t mean it

Twitter @grahamruthven

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