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Keep, Sell, Loan: Asmir Begovic's 2015-16 season in review

Taking a look at the good, the bad, and the ugly of each and every Chelsea player's season. Next up, Asmir Begovic who arrived in the summer to be Thibaut Courtois's backup, but got much more than he bargained for.

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Appearances: 23 starts (+2 as substitute).
Minutes: 1397 in Premier League; 300 in domestic cups; 450 in Champions League.
Statistics (per 90 minutes, Premier League): 1.55 goals conceded, 2.51 saves, 56% distribution accuracy, 2.00 catches.

Following the departure of Chelsea legend Petr Cech to Arsenal, the Blues were left without a quality back-up to rising star and first-choice Thibaut Courtois.  Asmir Begovic was the one chosen to fill in Cech's spot, arriving from Stoke City with stated hopes of getting as many games as he could. More realistically speaking, Begovic's role was set for a more standard, rotational role, getting the nod whenever an early round of a domestic cup or a later round of a Champions League group stage game (with qualification for the knockout rounds already assured) was to be played. But he was called into action far sooner than anyone anticipated when Courtois was sent off* in our season opener against Swansea City.  Begovic then started and made a good impression in the next game against Manchester City, despite being on the losing end of a 3-0 scoreline.

* Ed. note: Incidentally, under the new red card rules, he probably would not have gotten a red card as he was making a play on the ball.  Clumsy, sure, but still a play.

Just two games later, Courtois suffered a knee injury that required an operation, thus installing Begovic as the first-choice from September through November.  Results on the pitch were not great, but Begovic made the best out of a situation, with solid showings despite being offered very little protection from the Chelsea back four and midfield two.  Begovic started 17 games in a row.

Despite his solid, if unspectacular play, once Courtois returned from his injury, Begovic returned to second-choice and there he remained the rest of the season, earning just one appearance in three months.  After our FA Cup match against League One's Scunthorpe United under new manager Guus Hiddink, Begovic even voiced his frustrations, though as he's wont to do it in all his media appearances, he did it in a very reasonable, professional way.

Afterwards, the 28-year-old ended up starting four of our last seven games, thanks in part to yet another red card for Courtois.  Unfortunately, his late season efforts weren't as impressive as the ones from the season's first half, and he signed off for the season with a horrendously misplayed cross that gifted an equalizer to Liverpool in the closing minutes.  But that should not take away from his contributions the rest of the season, providing a steady presence in goal with Courtois injured and the rest of the team crumbling around him.  Chances are that without Begovic, our season would've been ever worse.

The Good: His clean sheet against Tottenham Hotspur at White Hart Lane, which would prove to be his last start before Courtois returned from injury.  Several key saves, including a couple great stops from Son Heung-Min in this one.

The Bad: A completely whiffed attempt at punching the ball out of the box on a corner against Dynamo Kiev in the Champions League's group phase at Stamford Bridge almost put a dent in our hopes to reach the competition's playoffs. Fortunately Willian saved the day with his wonderful free kick goal as Chelsea won 2-1.

The Ugly: Another costly mistake, another misplayed cross, this time against Liverpool at Anfield in the Premier League. Chelsea looked on course for another win at Anfield, but Begovic's flap gifted the equalizer to Christian Benteke.  It was a meaningless result in the context of the season, but highlighted Begovic's often surprising shakiness on crosses.

Verdict: The Courtois + Begovic duo make a good case for being the Premier League's best goalkeeping set-up. Begovic is a solid starter for Chelsea, when needed, and could be a key player to most other mid-table sides in the league. He's not a better option over Courtois, especially in the long term, though the competition he provides could be key in helping Courtois rediscover his own great form of seasons past.

In April, rumours claimed that both goalkeepers were looking to leave Chelsea in the summer transfer window.  Both have rowed back on these rumors lately, with perhaps the string of starts late in the season changing Begovic's mind.  Still, it wouldn't be surprising if he kept drawing interest from other Premier League clubs in need of good goalkeepers, such as Everton.

Begovic is a valuable asset, and unless a massively profitable bid comes in for him, Chelsea should be looking to keep him a while longer.  He has three years left on his contract.

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