Last night, Philippine time, Cardiff City secured their first win away from home as they pulled off a 1-0 result against Leicester.
The winner came in the form of a spectacular late strike by Victor Camarasa in the 92nd minute.
It may be the winning goal that might have gotten most of the attention due to it’s ‘magical’ nature, but from the defensive end, another talking point of the match has been Philippine Azkals keeper, Neil Etheridge who produced another penalty save in the 75th minute to deny the hosts a possible winner.
With another stellar shift for the Philippines’ colossus between the posts, let’s do a brief crunch on Neil’s current performance a match after the halfway of the season.
The obvious: Three penalty saves after 20 matches
After 20 matches, Neil Etheridge produced 3 saves out of five penalties that he has encountered.
Such hat-trick of saves from the spot currently make him top that particular statistic in the Premier League and is the most obvious attribute that makes him create waves in footballing circles around the world.
But actually, Neil’s other current statistics from a goalkeeping standpoint speak more volumes than just that.
Let’s delve a bit more into the numbers.
Neil Etheridge has the most saves in the Premier League
According to the current Premier League statistics, Etheridge now has the most number of the saves pulled off with 78.
What makes this even more interesting is that he has been one of the busiest of sentries in the league. Those saves he has made were out of the 116 shots he has encountered in the course of the currently on-going season. Out of those, he conceded 38 goals making him second as well in that department.
But despite the number of attempts that were able to beat Neil, in comparison to the ones he was able to deal with, that puts him in a success rate of 67.2%, which is still a pretty decent number as compared to the threats he has had to deal with.
The not so obvious: Neil Etheridge tops The Bluebirds in passing
What’s more interesting here is the Filipino stopper is in the thick of things for Cardiff not just in manning the posts, but also in being involved with ball-movement.
With Cardiff’s penchant for long-balls in their offensive buildup, most of such plays start with Neil. Add to that the number of saves that he pulled off and the ensuing goal-kick, plus the fact that Cardiff usually end up with the lower percentage of possession in most of their matches, it’s no wonder Neil tops this figure.
It’s fair to say that Etheridge is a crucial part of the squad especially now that Cardiff still have a long way to go with regards to their battle towards evading relegation (they are only four points above the drop-zone).
From an Azkals and Asian Cup perspective, what do these mean?
Obviously, these statistics point out that The Philippine Azkals are going to miss a top-quality player in their ranks as they participate in the biggest tournament they’ve qualified to in their history.
But in the end, it seems that not suiting up for the national team is the best option to take as Neil finally focuses on his club duties with the stellar performance against Leicester probably a proof already that foregoing his participation in the Asian Cup is the best decision to take.
For sure, Neil will still be available to suit up for the Philippines, and that is for a much higher purpose: The 2022 World Cup qualifiers.
From a club career perspective, does this open up opportunities for Neil?
Absolutely. But, whatever the future brings for the currently in-form stopper, it is most probably that any plans for a move away from Cardiff will not be initiated by Neil himself given that the club gave him the career-breakthrough for him to really showcase his goalkeeping ability and fulfil his potential at the highest level.
Photo credit: Neil Etheridge Twitter account