Angus Gunn may have tasted just 450 minutes of Premier League action for Southampton this season. However, the 23-year-old is already being tipped as a potential England number one. The early signs are positive.
Gunn’s decision to ditch Manchester for the south coast last summer didn’t come as a surprise. Despite showing immense promise, the custodian didn’t make a senior appearance for the Sky Blues in eight years. He seemingly moved to realise his dreams of standing tall behind the sticks in the Premier League.
Norwich born and breed, Gunn began his career there but moved to Manchester in 2011 aged just 14. The youngster abandoned friends and family in the north-east in pursuit of career at one of the country’s biggest clubs. That never happened, however.
He returned to his boyhood club last term on loan and impressed like a naive teen desperate to show off to old friends. Gunn racked up unbelievable numbers in the Championship. He was second for most saves with 139. His tally was only bettered by Ipswich’s Bartosz Bialkowski (153). Despite Norwich’s porous defence, the 23-year-old managed 15 clean sheets.
Gunn couldn’t resist the St Mary’s. Even though the Saints appeared stockpiled in his department with dependable custodians in Alex McCarthy and Fraser Forster. In fact, the latter signed a contract extension after leapfrogging Forster on the pecking order.
At first, the move appeared flawed. Gunn was denied his league debut throughout 2018. Mark Hughe’s sack and Ralph Hasenhuttl’s arrival opened the doors. The 23-year-old got a rare start at Chelsea in January. The Saints returned with a point and more importantly, the only clean sheet under their current manager in the top flight to date.
Since then, the Norwich native racked up four other league starts, including in wins over Fulham and Tottenham. Overall, Gunn featured 10 times across all competitions, shutting out the opposition on four occasions. His composure and confidence are extremely astonishing. Gunn is quicker off of his line than McCarthy and can play a sweeper keeper role.
For Jack Pickford, it is not a lack of sheer goalkeeping talent, but suspect temperament. He has become subject of criticism from pundits and Everton fans alike. Yet again, he was culpable for his side’s defeat at Newcastle. He gave away a spot-kick himself and made a handful of clangers in the second half that paved for the hosts to take advantage and eventually secured all three points.
Pickford’s needless rush of blood is cause for concern. He has now made more errors (4) leading to a goal than any other player in England’s first tier this campaign. He made three last term. Likewise his last at Sunderland. That’s a total of 10 errors leading directly to goals in the space of three seasons
The Englishman conceded one hundred goals since moving to Merseyside. Paired with his 55% passing accuracy this year, it doesn’t make good reading.
Gunn was previously called up for a friendly against Brazil in November 2017 and also attended a pre World Cup training camp at the end of last season. His nationality is still an issue, though. He is in the middle of a battle between England and Scotland. His father, Bryan Gunn, a former Norwich City keeper was capped six times for the latter.
Written by Toby Prince
Follow Toby on Twitter @prinzToby
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