There is no denying that Hugo Lloris has been one of the best goalkeepers in recent Premier League history. However, this glowing reputation has been somewhat tarnished in recent months, with the Tottenham captain struggling to maintain any sort of consistency.
Such is the danger of being a goalkeeper at a high-profile club such as Tottenham Hotspur, mistakes are amplified and the pressure upon Lloris to perform at a world class level has clearly had an effect on his confidence in his own abilities.
Individual errors are becoming frequent and Lloris’ usually sound handling and distrubution
have been thrown into doubt. In fact, Lloris has now made the most individual errors that have lead to goals in the League over the past three seasons.
So is Lloris already in decline when he should be at the peak of his powers?
Before making the claim that Lloris is ‘declining’, you have to consider the sorts of mistakes he is making as statistics can only tell you so much. Lloris has always been an active goalkeeper and, in a similar vein to Manuel Neuer, his style of play means that he actively engages with what is happening outside of his box in an attempt to shut down any attacks before they have even started.
This style of play is inherently risky. Get it right and you could potentially be the catalyst for a swift counter-attack. Get it wrong and you can be picking the ball out of the back of the net sooner than you can scream ‘Keepers!’ at the top of your lungs.
It requires a confident goalkeeper who is not afraid to leave himself potentially exposed. Yet Lloris has often looked exactly that. Afraid. Frequent lapses of concentration have led to him fluffing his lines when called upon in tense situations.
His performance against Manchester City in the 3-1 defeat last April epitomised the Frenchman’s season, yet the perceived mistakes he made in this match simply indicate that he is just a player who is low on confidence. He is not, as many seem to believe, a player who is losing his ability to perform at the highest level.
The first goal conceded saw Lloris stick to his line, rather than come out and engage the play. The second saw him engage the play and concede a penalty by clattering into Raheem Sterling.
On both occasions, Lloris made the correct decision. He simply lacked the correct execution. We often use the cliche for strikers that we would be more worried if they aren’t getting chances rather than missing the ones that they create. So why can’t we use this cliche for goalkeepers?
It would be more concerning for Spurs fans if Lloris began acting hesitantly and not making any clear decisions.
Monday night’s match against Watford simply reinforced the fact that Lloris is far from finished in a Spurs shirt. The mistakes that he has previously made seemed long forgotten as he comfortably dealt with anything Watford could throw at him. Whether it was his shot stopping, sweeping or distribution, everything was done with the confidence of a man who is one of the best in the world at his job.
Ultimately, Spurs need to be realistic. If they were to replace Lloris, they would not be able to find a suitable goalkeeper without spending the vast majority of their transfer budget. His presence in the Tottenham Hotspur setup is pivotal to their future success and very few goalkeepers carry the same demeanour or the same ability to be able to win a match through just one act.
It is clear to see that the Spurs players and Mauricio Pochettino fully trust in Lloris’ abilities. Spurs fans need to make sure that they repli this confidence.