As a part of our off-season coverage members of the Coming Home Newcastle staff will be reviewing the campaigns of all the Newcastle United first team players who made appearances in the 2018-2019 season. First up, Ben Weiss reviews Newcastle goalkeeper Martin Dubravka.
Dubravka was a fantastic addition to the squad at the 2018 January Transfer Window. This was his first full season with the Toon and he did not disappoint. His confidence on the backend and his sweeper-keeper tendencies were big factors in the total success of the final defense for Newcastle. With injuries to Lascelles, Lejeune, Dummett, Yedlin, and others, Dubravka was a rare constant for the squad, appearing and starting in all 38 matches.
Newcastle, with Martin Dubravka minding the net, produced 11 clean sheets this Premier League season. The most clean sheets since their 2011-2012 season. In addition to that, the 48 goals that were conceded was the second lowest total for the Magpies in their past 10 Premier League campaigns. Those 48 goals against, including 6 on Penalties, would tie them for 7th fewest in the Premier League. The Slovakian would also rack up 95 saves, a 2.5 save per game average.
Although Dubravka’s season as a whole was impressive, the 30-year-old did not have a perfect season. The keeper did go through some struggles, mainly resulting in some controversial goals. Newcastle’s away fixture against Wolves resulted in a 95th minute equalizer for the home side. Dubravka went up for a high looping ball just at his back post, only to see the ball go through his hands and off the head of Boly and into the back of the net. Now upon further review, the play was most likely a foul on Boly’s part as he elbowed the keeper before heading the ball home. But, in the eyes of some, Dubravka could have done better. According to the Premier League’s official statistics, the keeper committed three errors that would later lead to a goal. That would be the most on the squad with Lascelles’ 2 errors close behind.
It would be absurd to expect Dubravka to be error free, especially when playing every minute of every game. It is easy to highlight mistakes by the keeper as they are the last line of defense with usually no one (excluding Paul Dummett) to bail you out. Dubravka’s play this year reached levels that exceeded many expectations of fans and critics alike. He has even garnered interest from Juventus, but the Slovakian insists he is focused on the next season saying, “I have heard some rumors, but I’m not interested in even speaking about it. I was just focused on my job here.”
I’m going to circle back to Dubravka’s “mistake” against Wolves just to highlight his actual strengths as a goalkeeper. Dubravka led the Premier League in High Claims, or “jump balls”. His 43 High Claims was 11 more than the next keeper. The 30-year-old was not shy about coming off his line to secure possession for his team, a quality that is highly sought after for keepers as teams have tried to find their own Manuel Neuer or “sweeper keeper”. In fact, his 1,033 completed passes over the course of the season had Dubravka ranked 8th among goalkeepers. He was very much involved with his teams play.
Personally, Dubravka was my favorite player this season, showing up to play every game, minimizing mistakes, and instilling confidence from his backline. Dubravka was a fantastic addition for Newcastle and we hope he sticks around. Please feel free to rate his first full season down below!
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