Michel Vorm: Premier League’s Best Reserve

 Tottenham’s number two goalkeeper Michel Vorm would surely be first choice for any number of Premier League clubs. Showing off his finest shot-stopping ability in the League Cup at Anfield on Tuesday night, the Dutchman single-handedly saved Spurs from a significantly heavier defeat. And kept them in the contest to enable a late fightback and challenge that ultimately fell short.

Tottenham’s defence has claimed many accolades of late, as they remain the most miserly in the Premier League. Whilst the likes of Jan Vertonghen and Toby Alderweireld have rightly been at the forefront of such praise, arguably the performance of their two shot stoppers has been even more significant.

Whilst the Liverpool game still went by the wayside, Vorm and Hugo Lloris have shown in the early months of this season what a significant difference top class ‘keepers can make to a defensive unit.

Vorm came into this season under pressure following some indifferent performances when called on in his first two years at the club. And when Tottenham signed Pau Lopez on loan from Espanyol in the Summer, the 21 year old Spanish stopper looked every chance of relegating Vorm to third choice and potentially out the door. But now in fact it seems more likely that Vorm, having just turned 33 and in his prime for the position in which he occupies, is firmly entrenched as Lloris’ number two.

It appears more likely that, rather than being discarded by Spurs, Vorm could be poached by a club looking for an upgrade on their current number one. Amongst the other 19 first-choice ‘keepers in the Premier League alone, a case could be made that Vorm is a better option that nigh on half of them, and possibly more. Even the strongest clubs in England could do much worse than the Dutchman between the goals, especially given some of the calamitous ‘keeping we have witnessed in the past two months. Vorm may not have the name and reputation of a Claudio Bravo but he is, at least for now, a far superior goal keeper.

There were four of Vorm’s stops in particular against Liverpool that caught the eye. Two shots from Daniel Sturridge strikes, the second in particular that could scarcely have been better struck as Vorm dived high and to his right to tip over the bar. Next his ability to force away with depth and distance from a strong free kick by Georginio Wijnaldum. And finally another classy attempt from Sturridge that Vorm, flailing desperately backwards and at full stretch, yet again poked onto and over the bar. But for Vorm, Sturridge could well have had plenty more than just the two goals.

Vorm is never going to overtake the undisputedly world-class Hugo Lloris, recently nominated for the Ballon d’Or, at Tottenham. Such is Lloris’ ability and performance level that he now stands head and shoulders above (if not in height then at least ability) any other ‘keeper in the Premier League. If previously it was neck and neck between Lloris and David De Gea, recent from dictates that currently Lloris is firmly the best in the land.

Two saves alone, in Lloris’ last two appearances, are unlikely to have been replicated by any in world football. Against both Leverkusen and Bournemouth, Lloris procured Spurs a point in games that they would otherwise have lost. In doing so, he has kept alive their unbeaten run in the Premier League and perhaps more importantly, kept the team he leads in second place in their Champions League group. Lloris may not be the most vocal Captain on the pitch, but in actions his leadership could not be better displayed.

Vorm may well have a choice to make as early as the next transfer window, should he continue this kind of form from such limited first team appearances. It’s a situation he has clearly come to terms, that of limited and sporadic appearances, after initially appearing to struggle in adapting to a regimen that did not involve playing week in, week out or more. It all began with a determined display following Lloris’ hamstring injury on Premier League Matchday 1, and ever since, he has looked switched on, ready and able to take his chance. To perform his role wherever and whenever called upon.

Sadly, with Spurs now out of the League Cup, it may be a wait to the FA Cup until Vorm is called upon again. And this is the challenge that he and Spurs face; will he be satisfied with such sporadic game time now that his form, the best form of Vorm, is comparable to the best in the world? Clubs will come calling and Vorm will have to decide, if he hasn’t already, whether he is happy with a stable club environment and London life. Or whether the desire to play and challenge himself further during the peak of his career wins out.

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