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Gareth Southgate will be looking to put an end to the misery of never winning a UEFA European Championship and perhaps he has a point to prove after coming so close to glory in the Summer of 2021 only to be defeated by Italy on Penalties.

This piece will take an in-depth look at the foundation of the England team otherwise known as the goalkeeper that could give England a base to build from for their strongest chance of success for Euro 2024 in Germany.

Jordan Pickford is currently the favourite to wear England’s number one shirt for the European Championship in the Summer. The Everton man will face competition from Newcastle’s Nick Pope, Aaron Ramsdale of Arsenal and Crystal Palace keeper Sam Johnstone.

Out of the four keepers it is Ramsdale who has experienced a damaging blow to his Euro 2024 ambitions after falling in the pecking order at Arsenal with Gunners boss Mikel Arteta taking a clear liking to Spaniard David Raya. Raya has started eight of the 13 games in the League this season.

Ramsdale revealed to Arsenal legend Ian Wright “If you ask me to focus on a game of football for 90 minutes I’m finished. I can’t do it,” leaving many fans questioning his ability to perform for the biggest clubs and biggest stages. Maybe Southgate will feel as though Ramsdale’s lack of concentration could cost him a place on the plane to Germany in the Summer.

According to statistics provided by Opta, it is Nick Pope who holds the highest save percentage per 90 of the four keepers at 73.58%. He has also made 39 saves from the 52 shots on target that he has faced this season in the Premier League, seven more than Jordan Pickford. Most of Pope’s best work comes in the 18-yard area as he has made 26 saves from inside the box in the League this season which is five more than Pickford and nine more than Johnstone.

In terms of distribution, an asset the modern game is increasingly demanding from keepers, it is Johnstone who has a superior long pass accuracy percentage in the Premier League with 39.34% however it must be noted he has attempted 93 less long passes than Pickford. Pope is less equipped in this department having attempted the lowest amount of long passes this season by some way accumulating 108 less than Johnstone and ranks lowest for long pass accuracy.

From these stats, it is clear to see that Nick Pope ranks as the most reliable keeper in terms of shot stopping, specialising in and around the box. However, he falls below both Pickford and Johnstone when it comes to long pass accuracy and distribution.

Gareth Southgate must identify the way he wants to utilise his England side in Germany this Summer. Pickford remains the favourite if Southgate decides to play a possession-based style of Football or even Sam Johnstone if he catches the eye of the England manager before the end of the 23/24 season. However, a more open and stretched England set up could result in them facing a greater number of shots per game, in which Southgate should turn to Nick Pope.

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May 2024