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Grading Chelsea's Season: Goalkeepers

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It's been a week now since Didier Drogba's penalty kick rolled into the bottom corner of Manuel Neuer's net. I don't know when the high is going to wear off, because wheee this is a fun feeling, but I should probably start writing as though the season is over at some point. I guess I'll do that now. It's time to review some players! We'll do (first-team) goalkeepers today, then defenders, midfielders and forwards at some point that isn't today, because I'm kind of lazy like that.

Petr Cech

Petr Cech put in a set of stellar performances towards the end of the season to earn Chelsea two trophies, including the European Cup, but things weren't always looking quite so hot for the now-30-year-old, who suffered badly in the early stages of the season. A series of poor performances gave many the impression that Cech was over the hill, but the shoddy defence in front of him made it almost impossible for him to play well. Cech's never been the best one-on-one goalkeeper in the world, and he was seeing a lot of one-on-ones in the early stages of the season.

There were rumours he was unhappy - rumours, even, that Andre Villas-Boas was preparing to sell him in the summer. Based on his performances it wasn't difficult to see why. And then things suddenly got much, much better. The defence sat deeper, allowing Cech to play to his strengths. He'd command the area and turn shots aside, and although he still had a few shaky moments he was nowhere near as exposed as he had been during the first half of the season. He played very well over two legs at Barcelona, pulled off a stupendous, FA Cup-winning save vs. Liverpool, and then saved three out of the six penalties Bayern Munich threw at him during Chelsea's Champions League final win* in Munich. Not a bad season.

*It's funny - if Didier Drogba hadn't cancelled out Mueller's goal, this piece would have gone something like 'Cech had a strong finish to the season but a crucial error late on against Bayern Munich may have cost the Blues the Champions League'. Amazing how differently I feel about that thanks to his penalty shootout heroics.

Could work on his distribution, although that's probably a tactical issue rather than a skills one.

Grade: B+

Henrique Hilario

I don't know why Hilario still keeps getting contracts, but hey whatever. Did a reasonable job of backing up Cech when the first-choice keeper was missing through injuries in the early going. Didn't do anything else. Which I guess is what he's supposed to not be doing. At some point, he's going to go away, right?

Grade: C

Ross Turnbull

I'd say that a bizarre cameo against Liverpool at the end of the season is going to colour our impressions of the 27-year-old because good grief that was horrendous, especially the laughable pass to Jonathan Joseph Shelvey for the fourth goal, but to be honest Turnbull didn't do that much even at the start of the season. He came in at halftime for the Carling Cup match against Fulham, winning the shootout, got sent off against Everton and then saved a penalty during the loss to Liverpool. At no point did he look good enough to burn the image of his Anfield performance from my mind.

But hey, this is what you expect from a third-choice goalkeeper.

Grade: D+

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