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Chelsea In 2011/12: Goalkeepers

The goalkeeping situation is pretty straightforward: Petr Cech is one of the best goalkeepers in the world, while his backups most certainly are not. That's not really a promblem per se - if Henrique Hilario or Ross Turnbull were good enough to be starting for a Premier League team, they probably wouldn't be acting as Cech's understudies, so expecting more out of the two seems a little naïve.

Cech, of course, had a fantastic 2010/11 season. He's one  of the few players to have emerged from Ancelotti's reign with his reputation improved, and he put in his best shift since the head injury Stephen Hunt delighted in inflicting upon him several years ago. Always one of the best pure shot-stoppers in the world, Cech seems to have recovered his presence in the penalty area, and that makes him a phenomenally valuable player to anchor Chelsea's back line.

His backups are less exciting. Henrique Hilario lives up to his surname too often, and Ross Turnbull (who is somehow 26 years old) is less amusing but far less talented. Rhys Taylor will see no action - Jamal Blackman is probably above the Welsh 21-year-old in the depth chart these days. That's not a particularly important tidbit, but hey, Blackman's more exciting than Taylor ever has been. Anyway, it's pretty obvious that if Cech goes down the team is pretty royally screwed.

The wild card is Thibaut Courtois. The Belgian youngster, signed from RC Genk for €9M in Chelsea's first major move of the summer, is on loan at Atletico Madrid. Judging by the reports, he's probably the second-best goalkeeper Chelsea have registered, and the Blues may well have a recall clause to bring him back to Stamford Bridge on short notice should Cech be knocked out long-term. But then again, they may not. We don't know.

With Cech in goal, then, everything is hunky-dory. With the retirement of Edwin van der Sar, Cech has a case to make for himself as the Premier League's top goalkeeper (although Pepe Reina will proably put up still competition, as will the still-developing Joe Hart), and having an elite stopper behind a strong defence means that Chelsea are probably going to be rather hard to put goals past this season. No surprise there. The 29-year-old has been injured in the past, of course, but I wouldn't exactly describe him as injury-prone in the same way, say, Michael Essien is. That's probably a good thing, considering the chaos it would cause if he went down for any length of time.

Verdict: Hooray for Petr Cech.

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