Watford’s unlikely star between the sticks
12th October 2015

Sitting in 12th position is particularly comfortable for Watford. Enjoyable I may add. We have entertained a host of top sides and continued defying all the odds game after game. As usual the club are suiting the underdog tag. And long may that remain.

Post promotion I would not have singled out our keeper Heurelho Gomes as our star man. In fact I embarrassingly remember casting serious doubts over not replacing him in a somewhat busy transfer window for the cut-throat Hornets.

I cast my mind back to when we originally signed Gomes, an ageing keeper who had erratic tendencies and was generally slated by Spurs fans who, surprise surprise, only remembered the calamities. My lack of knowledge for Gomes did cast doubts for me – I imagined a player of similar ilk to previous glove wearer Almunia. I struggled to appreciate the Spaniard during his time at the Vic. It was like for like I imagined.

31 July 2015 - Pre-Season Friendly - Watford v Sevilla - Heurelho Gomes of Watford - Photo: Marc Atkins / Offside.

Gomes was tremendous during our promotion campaign. The amount of times he kept us in the game is incredible. He is very talented at shot-stopping and he truly does resemble the most agile of cats. To be honest I thought he should have won Championship Goalkeeper of the Year, he went severely under the radar when we had the likes of Ighalo and Deeney busting down the rest of the English and Welsh nets.

Gomes signed a three-year deal at the age of 33 when Watford won promotion – for an outsider looking in this seems erratic to say the least. Yet once again, it’s just proving the calibre of the entire Pozzo structure. All our top players have gained long deals, most for five years including Anya, Deeney and Ighalo.

Wrongly, I forgot all his good and cast my mind back to Gomes’ days back at Spurs where he made a few more mistakes than we would expect as fans.

This season, he categorically has made a huge difference in keeping out the league’s top players, every single game has seem him flourish with key save after key save. Gomes is a fine wine, he has improved with age. You get the impression from his tweets generally, and from his body language and expressions during each game, that he has taken Watford close to his heart. He is doing all he can to retain that number one shirt. He is aware he is at the twilight of his career but he’s showing no signs of easing up. He has probably realised this could be his last bash at the Premier League.

Additionally, Gomes has kept out a staggering 28.6% of the penalties he has faced in his English top-flight career. Of the 32 goalkeepers to have had a minimum of 20 spot-kicks fired in their direction, only Arsenal legend David Seaman (31.8%) has a better record.

Talking of the Gunners, this Saturday coming will witness the Brazilian’s biggest test so far against Arsene Wenger’s side – for me the best side in the competition currently. Deadly attacking prowess looms and Gomes will certainly be tested numerous times. I have faith however – cometh the man cometh the hour. Dare I say we can muster a score draw…

Brad’s predictions: Watford 2-2 Arsenal

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