We’ve all heard commentators and so called ‘experts’ who have never played a minute between the sticks stating that ‘the goalkeeper shouldn’t be getting beat at his near post’.

OK.. so as a goalkeeper what is it you’re supposed to do when the attacker is bearing down on your goal only yards away from you??.. are you meant to selfishly just cover the nearer post to where the attacker can shoot, so as not to get the blame for getting beat ‘at your near post’ giving yourself no chance of making the save when the attacker coolly slots it into the open area on the further away side of the goal? Or are you meant to try and take the optimum angle making  yourself as big as possible to cover as wide an area of the goal, including much of the further away part as well, hopefully managing to get ‘something’ on the shot to deflect the strike away from your goal, rescuing your team in the process (who clearly shouldn’t have let the attacker get in that position) in most of the goal, unless its an excellent finish inside either post….thus opening yourself up for criticism that “the goalkeeper shouldn’t be getting beat at his near post!?

I felt compelled to open this debate by a goal at the weekend (28.10.17) from Eden Hazard for Chelsea against Asmir Begovic and Bournemouth.. Begovic made several great last ditch block saves in this match before Hazard bore down on him with a free shot from a difficult angle only yards away from the goalkeeper for the decisive action in the game as Chelsea beat them 1-0.

Now therein lies the dilemma above as a goalkeeper.. Begovic did what he did on several occasions that afternoon, making himself as big as he could and taking an angle that covered as much of the goal as possible. Hazard could’ve done anything with his shot , he had that much time. He decided to smash the ball inside the nearer post, given that Begovic had covered most of the goal with his considerable presence this was a great finish within an inch of the post.

Commence the cries from the ‘pundits’ “The goalie shouldn’t be getting beat at his near post!!”

Is this just lazy ‘punditry’ labelling every shot that goes in the nearer post as ‘near post!’ Without knowing how or ever looking into why they think the GK could’ve done any better? Or are they right?? I’ve screamed at my TV on numerous occasions “How is that getting beat at the near post!!” Kasper Schmiechel actually took to twitter a few weeks ago to vent his frustration on this exact matter as another ‘near post’ goal got smashed in from 4 yards away..

For me if the attacker is in a position just yards away from the goal, no matter what angle he has, and the Goalie makes himself big on a good angle unselfishly trying to cover more of the goal and the attacker smashes it past him with pinpoint accuracy inside either post, the goalie cannot be blamed, ‘nearer post’ or not. Indeed…if the attacker had been in the centre of the goal with a free shot yards from goal and he smashes it close to the goalkeeper, is the goalie then blamed for not getting a block on the ball, No.. Yet Its the same principle applied by the goalie wether its on an angle or not, he has to try and put himself in a position to give himself a chance to cover as much of the goal as possible. So why just because the ball is on an angle does the goalie get blamed even though its the same strike and gone past him with the same trajectory!? Then I hear from the ‘experts’ “the goalie had no chance from that close!!!”

Now I get on an angle it has to help the goalie as he’s got less goal to ‘cover’ but when the attacker gets to a certain point inside the 18 yard box with a free strike, surely with the points I’ve raised above, you can see that at that point, the nearer post stops becoming ‘getting beat at the near post!?’

I let a goal in for West Ham V’s Liverpool under Alan Pardew (Which ultimately cost me a cup final spot-but that’s another story!) Which I actually would describe as ‘near post’ Djibril Cisse cut in from the left on the edge of the box and unleashed a powerful low strike with his right foot, straight between Christian Dially’s legs. I’d unfortunately took a too big a step to my left trying to ‘read’ where the shot would go and could only recover enough to get my fingertips on the ball and watch agonisingly as the ball went in off the post.. Again…commence the shouts of ‘the goalie shouldn’t get beat at his near post!!” Unfortunately, from this distance (18-19 yards out) and this occasion, I agreed!!

So you can see, it really is a matter of small margins which makes up a goalies life. But please do me a favour, before you get taken in by the ‘experts’ lazily slating a near post goal, please weigh up the argument I have put forward and make your own decision if the near post had indeed stopped becoming the near post!!

I would love to hear your feedback on this topic so close to my heart.. On the website footballdna.co.uk there will be many drills and analysis of this topic that will hopefully help you understand the finer points of angled saves. As well as analysis and drills for each position on the pitch.

Look forward to hearing from you..