There were two instances of truly outstanding goalkeeping in the Premier League last Sunday. Firstly, Hugo Lloris got down and stretched to tip Bakary Sako's drilled effort on to the post during Tottenham's 1-0 win over Crystal Palace at White Hart Lane. Then, roughly two hours later, Manchester United's David de Gea was busy reminding everyone in English football about his stupendous abilities as a shot-stopper, clawing away Jose Fonte's goal-bound header to keep Louis van Gaal's men in front against Southampton.
Not only were these two pieces of goalkeeping artistry - giving both men between the sticks a similar satisfaction to that of a striker when he sees the net bulge - they were moments that shaped the result for their team, once again underlining how a goalkeeper operating at the peak of their powers can be every bit as important as those supplying the goals at the other end.
Just two minutes after Lloris acrobatically denied Sako, Son Heung-min was notching the game's solitary strike and sealing a crucial win for Spurs after another performance steeped in mediocrity. Similarly, De Gea's dazzling reflexes to frustrate the Saints captain kept United in the lead. Of course, Southampton would manage to score another, through Graziano Pelle's bullet header, but De Gea's latest act of goalkeeping percipience ensured the Italian striker's second goal of the afternoon was merely consolation.
Justifiably, there was no shortage of praise from either Mauricio Pochettino or Van Gaal in the aftermath of the respective results. The Spurs boss lauded his captain and rock between the posts, calling him 'world class' and describing his performance as 'unbelievable.' Meanwhile, Van Gaal showered the erstwhile wantaway United keeper with eulogies which stood in stark contrast to a summer when the Dutch coach often cut an exasperated figure answering questions about De Gea's future.
And it is true that, while new signing Anthony Martial has made an immediate impact on his new side, retaining the services of the Spaniard too feels like another expensive summer recruit has come to the rescue. But De Gea has always been there, literally speaking anyway, despite the majority of United fans becoming resigned to losing the 24-year-old during the course of a summer when he was constantly courted by Real Madrid, but never officially pursued until an eleventh hour frenzy. Having settled and put that somewhat dark spell behind him - not to mention putting pen to paper on a fresh contract last week - De Gea looks revitalised and raring to re-establish himself as an indispensable member of Van Gaal's squad.
Spurs fans would have been sweating over the future of Lloris too however, Daniel Levy managed to hold on to the French number one, which also feels like an enormous victory in itself. Lloris' unstoppable progression to becoming one of the world's greatest goalkeepers has not gone unnoticed, not least by United.
A few weeks back, the 28-year-old hinted that a summer move to Old Trafford had been on the cards in saying a 'desired development didn't happen' and many still tip him to succeed De Gea, when the current incumbent of the United gloves eventually does leave for the Bernabeu. Although Lloris insists he is happy to stay at White Hart Lane, there is no denying his ambitions to play in the Champions League and one can't help but think another season missing out on the top four will spell an end to his career in north London.
Lloris has certainly not done his worthiness as a replacement for De Gea any harm and would certainly be tempted by a move in the future but, for now, having the former Lyon man continue to command the penalty area with remarkable conviction and consistency is as crucial to Spurs as Harry Kane finding the target.
Meanwhile, De Gea has pretty much condemned Sergio Romero to the bench for the rest of the season with his latest collection of spectacular stops, making the Argentine's clanger against Swansea City seem a distant memory. The Spaniard towers above Romero in the department of natural ability and having the former in form and in a positive place mentally will only serve to bolster a challenge for the title Van Gaal now claims is very much the objective.
Over the season, players such as Anthony Martial, Harry Kane and Son Heung-min may continue to grab the headlines, but it's important that we continue to recognise the achievements of world-class goalkeepers such as Lloris and De Gea; their contributions may save as many points as the attackers win throughout the campaign.
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