When it has come about, the South Wales derby hasn’t produced an atmosphere anywhere near as fiery as we expected this season and given how much build-up the encounter was given it was interesting to see how timid the rivalry ended up being.
The clubs’ respective goalkeepers now seem to be in their own head-to-head battle as rumours suggest that both might be on their way, with the pair being chased by bigger clubs.
Cardiff’s David Marshall has won plenty of plaudits during Cardiff’s miserable season and has widely been recognised as one of the finest keepers in the league. Reports suggest that Arsenal are looking at Marshall to provide competition for Wojciech Szczesny and to replace the outgoing Lukasz Fabianski. There are also suggestions that North London rivals Tottenham Hotspur are looking at the Scotsman.
Michel Vorm of Swansea, meanwhile, is being lined up as a replacement for Pepe Reina at Liverpool, with the Spaniard looking like he will make his loan to Napoli permanent in the summer. Brendan Rodgers has already admitted that he wants another goalkeeper in the squad and with Simon Mignolet rarely pushed a keeper of Vorm’s pedigree could provide the Belgian with the perfect competition.
Cardiff conceded 20 goals more than their rivals but that is hardly a surprise given Cardiff’s defence’s inexperience at this level. Swansea are more acclimatised to life in the Premier League, though the fact they conceded 54 goals will still be a worry.
Marshall’s incredible average saves per game figure of 3.49 has attracted a lot of attention with clamours amongst a lot of the media for him to win the goalkeeper of the year award. However, despite this, his Squawka performance score finished on -172 which was one of the worst in the division. This can be put down to the number of goals he conceded and the fact that he made five defensive errors this season. Nevertheless Marshall remained an integral part of Cardiff’s team and he was easily the club’s player of the season. On so many occasions Marshall has made a crucial save that has kept his side in the game and in mid April after a 1-1 at home to Stoke where Marshall made a late save from Oussama Assaidi his boss Ole Gunnar Solskjaer said that Marshall had saved their season.
Interestingly, despite all the attention Marshall was getting and the fact that his own form was coming under severe criticism, Michel Vorm actually betters Marshall in pretty much every stat except saves. The Dutchman, who was named as part of Louis van Gaal’s Dutch World Cup squad this week, has suffered this season from injury and an inability to recover his own good form. With some reports in the media suggesting that Swansea could be prepared to move the keeper on, it seems worth pointing out that Vorm has only made two defensive errors this season, with just one leading to a goal.
Dispensing with Vorm would seem harsh, whereas Marshall has played every league game bar one this season the Dutchman’s longest streak of league games stands at just 13. The fact that his appearances have been so spaced out but yet he has still kept clean sheets would lend itself towards the theory that Vorm would be a better back-up keeper, playing when required by injury or in cup matches. Marshall, as demonstrated by his save count, has also been extremely busy in comparison to Vorm; it remains to be seen whether he could deal with large periods of inactivity that would come with life at a big club before being called upon to make one important save.
Nevertheless, both remain very solid goalkeepers and whilst Marshall is seen as indispensable to his club Cardiff’s relegation means that both should be available for a similar price. Whether either could displace Szczesny, Lloris or Mignolet from their present status as number one is more unclear but what is interesting to note is that there are growing rumours from France that PSG could make a move for Lloris in the summer. If that were to be case, Marshall could well find himself the new number one at White Hart Lane, with even more pressure to perform and with big shoes to fill.