Apr 17, 2013, 3:58 PM EDT
When Newcastle goalkeeper Tim Krul was injured in this weekend’s derby, there was little doubt the Netherlands international would miss the rest of this quickly expiring season. So today’s news is less surprise than confirmation, with the 25-year-old scheduled for surgery on Monday to repair damage caused by a dislocated shoulder. The club expects him to resume at the end of July, leaving the squad to navigate the season’s last five matches without their number one.
After starting all 38 league matches for the Magpies last season, injuries have limited Krul to 24 starts this season. The number he has accrued haven’t been that impressive, a reflection of the problems Alan Pardew’s had along the back line. Krul’s only kept four clean sheets and has conceded 40 times while making 75 stops, numbers which don’t match the reputation he’s cultivated over the last two-plus seasons.
But when you look at the numbers for Newcastle’s other keepers, you see Krul’s value. Krul is allowing 1.69 goals per 90 minutes. The tandem of Robert Elliott and Steven Harper are allowing 2.02. Krul’s saving 65.2 percent of the shots he faces .His backups are only stopped 60.4 percent.
None of those numbers are particularly impressive, but the comparison shows what Newcastle’s losing. A strong, decisive keeper behind a poor defense, Krul’s absence could be worth a one or two (1.65) goals over the next three games, if we go by the rate of goals allowed alone.
For a team on the fringe of relegation, one with the Magpies’ run-in, the injury’s timing is poor. Newcastle are at eighth place West Brom this weekend before a visit from seventh place Liverpool on the 27th. Then Newcastle visit West Ham and QPR before finishing the season at home against Arsenal. With the exception of QPR, those are all teams that will provide significant tests of Elliott.
Currently on 35 points, Newcastle are four clear of the drop, though one of the teams battling relegation (Wigan) have two matches in hand. While a return to the Championship looks improbable at this point, Newcastle will be underdogs in four of their last five matches. That could open the door for a nightmare scenario, one in which the one-to-two goals difference in keepers could really matter.
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