One of our own. How good was Jordan Pickford at Arsenal?

Goalkeeping is trade that packs the odd surprise.

When Arsenal beat us 3-1 in the Premier League on December 5, the man of the match was not Ozil or any of Wenger’s other stars but Petr Cech, testament to the importance of his saves in stopping Sunderland gaining a point from the game.

And despite conceding three goals in the FA Cup tie on Saturday, our own Jordan Pickford was the best player on the pitch, ahead of the excellent Hector Bellerin and, though he played only from the 67th minute, the game-changing Aaron Ramsey.

At ESPN, I gave Pickford nine out of 10 – no one else merited more than seven from me in my ratings – and said this:

An outstanding first-team debut by the young keeper included several world-class saves, an assured command of his goal box and almost perfect distribution (even his one mishit clearance went to a Sunderland player). Blameless for each of the goals.

I also suggested he was “a terrific goalkeeping prospect for Sunderland and maybe even for England”.

Was I too generous, influenced by the player’s youth and inexperience at this level and over-anxious to talk up his performance?

On balance, I stick by the assessment. In addition to the one fluffed clearance in the first half – he kicked low out of the box; the ball did not travel far enough but it did travel to a Sunderland player so no damage was done – there were two parried saves that he might have done a little better with, one in each half. But again the ball fell to Sunderland players who were able to clear.

Goalkeepers are entitled to some good fortune and Pickford made his own – I might have made his mark 8.5 if halves were allowed in the ESPN ratings but it was more nine than eight. And since keepers tend to have a bond, I’d be fascinated too know what the magnificent Cech made of our man’s debut.

And consider the saves he did make, especially those from Kieran Gibbs and Alex Iwobi in the first half (in each case after DaAndre Yedlin had been left for dead on Arsenal’s attacking left flank) and from a point-blank Joel Campbell shot in the second with the scores still level. These were, indeed world-class and, given our wastefulness up front, saved us from a much heavier defeat.

What also caught the eye was Pickford’s assured, accurate and powerful distribution with hand and, especially, foot. The kicking was the best I have seen from any Sunderland keeper since Tony Coton and was unrecognisable from what we get all too often from Vito Mannone and Costel Pantilimon, good shotstoppers though both are.

Pickford, just 21, was born in Washington. His elder brother, Richard Logan, played as a forward for various North-eastern sides, including Darlington, Consett and Shildon. If our young keeper were not a player with the promise of a bright career ahead of him, he’d be cheering for the Lads. As the fans sang at the Emirates (ours, that is – Arsenal’s murmur to themselves rather than sing), he’s “one of our own”.

Let us hope that great career he’s capable of is with Sunderland AFC.

M Salut, drawn by Matt, colouring by Jake
M Salut, drawn by Matt, colouring by Jake

8 thoughts on “One of our own. How good was Jordan Pickford at Arsenal?”

  1. Shhhh…keep it down ,they’ll all be after him now!If he is good enough, I cannot make a call between Pants and Mannone,depends on confidence at the end of the day…and you don’t get much with our team!

    I slightly lean towards Pants though.We likely will have to move one of them on for the wage bill.Nice to have the option if this is the case.

  2. He is going to be a top keeper. His kicking is quite phenomenal and he is a smashing lad as well – another Monty in the making but one day down the line we will sell him as we did with Mignolet.

  3. Apart from his one clearance kick that went straight along the ground and caused a mini panic, I thought he had an exceptional game for a debut. Good distribution, excellent blocks and as Ann said above he kept the defence informed and commanded the box. Great prospect and seems to have relished in the experience despite having three go past him. Just wish we’d come up with a better song ………

  4. Had a good game and his distribution and kicking out is superior. He commanded the box and let his defence know what he was doing unlike Mannone! A GREAT ‘keeper’ in the making!

  5. I suggested to Sixer at half time that we may have a future England player on our hands. Alas, he will probably be at Arsenal, Man Utd, Spurs or Chelsea by then.

  6. I forecast a big career for Jordan Pickford. I think he will take over as Sunderland’s number one before the season is over. The problem might be retaining him if we are relegated.

    His distribution is a big plus. This is becoming so important in the modern game. Pantilimon’s is the worst I’ve seen since Mignolet [ who has improved somewhat, and sensibly tends to often throw the ball – Pantilimon would be advised to try that ]

    • I’d still have Mignolet back on the team in a heartbeat! But who goes on the “for sale” list – Pantilimon or Mannone? Both have their strengths and weaknesses.

      • If one goes and the club have a choice then it would probably be Pants as I believe he is on a much higher wage than Don Vito. With the fair play regulations that would make much more sense as it would give more leeway for negotiating with potential signings.

        But those high wages could also be off putting to other clubs. I think it is primarily for financial reasons that one or other will be on their way before the end of the month rather than anything Jordan Pickford has done whilst out on loan. That said he has developed to the point where we can do without one of our two more experienced goalkeepers.

        It’s good to finally see one of our own academy players making it into the first team after such a long time.

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