The battle for the number 1 jersey at Latics

1

November 18, 2012 by backofthenetjl

It is obvious that a goal-keeper is a key figure in any side; after all it is his duty to attempt to prevent any goals going in. There are plenty of tremendous goal-keepers in the world at some of the best clubs, but it is incredibly rare for a club to be spoilt for choice when it comes to selecting their preferred choice. Clubs like Real Madrid, Chelsea, Barcelona and Man City are prime examples of clubs that only really have one top keeper; meaning that unless injuries and suspension’s kick in; the usual shot-stopper will retain his place for the majority of the season.

In a competitive division like League 1, it is important for clubs to have a goal-keeper that they can depend on throughout the season. It is clear that taking chances win you game’s, but goal-keepers do infact do their bit for the team; as you know that your side is almost certain to concede chances at some point on the game, fans and outfield players put their faith in the man between the sticks to come to rescue. Goal-keepers are often heavily critiscised when they make a mistake; more often because they are the last line of defence and when they make that mistake it is a lot easy to notice.

Most clubs in the football league are only able to rely on having one very good goal-keeper but at Oldham Athletic it is a completely different story. Paul Dickov’s men are seriously fortunate that they have two exceptional goal-keepers at their disposal in Dean Bouzanis and Alex Cisak. Both are very young and talented keepers who can produce some brilliant saves; giving Paul Dickov a selection headache pretty much every game. So lets have have a further look into the battle for the number 1 jersey at Boundary Park.

Polish born Alex Cisak arrived at Boundary Park in 2011 from Accrington Stanley after impressing in 2010/11 season; where he scooped the ESPN PFA Fans League Two Player of the Month Award in March. Cisak had previously came through the ranks at Leicester City; where he played in a side that featured Andy King, Joe Mattock and Max Gradel amongst others that are also products of the Foxes youth system. He was pivotal part of the side that won 2006/07 Premier League Academy League and in May of that season, he signed his first professional contract with the club. He was sent on loan to Oxford United and non-league Tamworth in a bid to gain more experience, but it didn’t prove to beneficial as his opportunities at both clubs were limited. It was also proving difficult for him to break into the Leicester side once he returned from his loan spells and despite him signing a six-month contract extension in 2009; he was released and subsuqently joined Accrington.

At Accrington, he began to flourish and put in a string of excellent performances in goal. That prompted the blues to snap him in July 2011; where they agreed a compensation package with Stanley and the 23-year-old signed a two-year deal. Since moving to Oldham, Cisak has become a firm fans favourite and for the majority of his time at Boundary Park he has been Oldham’s number 1. He suffered an injury to his arm against Leyton Orient last season, but after Dean Bouzanis’s brief run in the side, he quickly reclaimed his place and began this season as a regular starter in goal.

Dean Bouzanis is the other keeper that Oldham have in their ranks and is a former Liverpool youth-team graduate. During his time with the Anfield club, Bouzanis was well thought of by manager Rafa Benitez, who regarded the Aussie as “the best goal-keeper in the world for his age.” Many had tipped Bouzanis to break into the side; especially with Jerzy Dudek’s time with the Reds coming to an end. But it was infact Spaniard Pepe Reina who became Dudek’s sucesssor; meaning Bouzanis had to settle for the U-18 and Reserve side’s. He was sent on loan to A-League outfit Sydney FC but his stint with them was rather unsucessful, while his time with Accrington Stanley was more productive as he made 14 appearances. In 2011, he departed Liverpool and he was expected to make the switch to Melbourne Victory after reportedly agreeing  terms but it didn’t happen and he moved to Oldham.

Originally his time at Oldham was only on non-contract terms but he quickly established himself as back-up for Cisak. He would have to be very patient if he was to become Dickov’s number 1 choice and when Cisak injured his arm against Leyton Orient in March, he made his debut and they was granted a short spell in goal. But when Cizak returned to action; Bouzanis was then back on the bench and began this season as number 2. He must of been working very hard in training and suddenly he was now the regular starter throughout September and October; where he came up with several magnificent saves; including a fantastic stop in the home match with Coventry. Since then, Bouzanis has continued to be called upon by boss Paul Dickov.

Oldham are very lucky that they have two goal-keepers that are still young, yet are very good shot-stoppers and rarely make errors. No keeper is guaranteed a start every week and the competition between the two can only improve both keepers. They are two very confident keepers and after watching them from the stands, they appear to be very vocal and organise the defence superbly. Even if Bouzanis has been the preferred choice of late, both are still prepared to fight for their place in the side, so may the tussle for the number 1 jersey continue.

Follow me on twitter: @BackOfTheNetJL

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One thought on “The battle for the number 1 jersey at Latics

  1. Jon says:

    It was well publicised that Dickov spat the dummy after the Notts County goal, which was a fluke goal.

    We have gone from mid-table into the relegation zone. Bouzanis has also had the good fortune of having wabara, derbyshire and baxter in his line up…which has meant goals for a period.

    Our downturn in form started when he went punching the air away at Carlisle.

    All signs are clear that Cisak is the better keeper, a much better keeper.

    Bouzanis is weak on crosses and doesn’t make the saves that Cisak does. Bouzanis has excellent ability with his feet, but not enough to be noticeable.

    We are going to get relegated with Bouzanis in goal. I’ve noticed that Bouzanis has the fans onside through meaningless twitter feeds and interacts with them in a very personable way. let’s hope dean’s popularity isn’t getting in the way of Dickov’s decision making.

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