In an important Friday night fixture, Everton take on Burnley at home, hot in pursuit of Wolves for a European spot. Indeed, the Toffees will be confident of securing the win but come up against an in-form Tom Heaton, who will look to stop them.
The Englishman has enjoyed a fine spell of form of late, helping Burnley secure Premier League football for another season at least. He will be given a stern test against Everton, however, who have a highly rated English ‘keeper of their own. But who should be considered the better stopper, Heaton or Pickford?
Let’s analyse it further below.
With Premier League safety secured, there is surely now one thing on Heaton’s mind – England. The Englishman was desperately unlucky not to be involved at the 2018 World Cup after injury, considering his previous status in the set-up.
Heaton was dealt a further blow with the introduction of Joe Hart to the Burnley squad when the former England number one appeared to have sealed a permanent role in the team, but Heaton has well and truly regained his starting place.
A heroic performance against City, albeit ending up on the losing side, was a distinct reminder to the masses of his quality. It was the type of performance that has led to his international recall, having been given a place on the bench in the Euro 2020 qualifiers against Montenegro and the Czech Republic.
Heaton has featured 17 times in the Premier League this season, keeping four clean sheets, winning eight and losing five. With Hart in goal, on the other hand, Burnley won only three and lost 13 in 19 games. Heaton has also conceded only 19 goals, significantly less than Hart’s 41 – not bad for a team sitting in 15th. It’s clear who the man in form is.
TT Grade: B
After a successful World Cup with England, Pickford would have been keen to continue his good form into this season. He has instead come under some criticism, although perhaps unfairly. Yes, there have been errors this season. But it seems harsh to entirely discredit a keeper based on a limited number of errors. Just look at David de Gea this season – arguably the best ‘keeper in the world but still capable of a poor run of form.
Pickford has kept 11 clean sheets in the league this season, joint fourth with Hugo Lloris. Considering Everton are currently 9th in the table, this is fairly impressive. Perhaps even more so is the fact that Pickford has made more saves than those ahead of him. Additionally, no ‘keeper in the league has completed more passes than the England man this season.
Both Everton and Pickford have hit form at a pivotal point in the season, now keeping six successive clean sheets. With the Nations League approaching fast, Pickford will be delighted with his performances of late.
Despite the rather hefty transfer fee of £30m, Pickford has arguably justified his transfer fee. Although not exceptional, the 25-year-old has plenty of time to improve.
TT Grade: B+
Jordan Pickford takes this one, but it’s very close.
His form towards the conclusion of the campaign has saved him, as both he and Everton alike were struggling early on, Heaton is certainly providing stiff position, but Pickford takes the benefit of the doubt after an impressive World Cup.
Everton and Burnley fans, what do you think? Who should be considered the better keeper? Who should start for England at the Nations League? Comment below.
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