Martin Dubravka's brilliant response to questions about his Newcastle United form

There haven’t been too many constants at Newcastle United this season.

Tuesday, 14th January 2020, 12:00 pm
Updated Tuesday, 14th January 2020, 12:00 pm

The team’s been consistently inconsistent, and players have been in and out of the team – and in and out of form.

One constant has been Martin Dubraka between the posts.

He’s played every minute of every Premier League game – he hasn’t missed a top-flight fixture since making a memorable debut against Manchester United at St James’s Park almost two years ago – and he’s made more saves than any other goalkeeper in the division this season.

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In 1,980 minutes of top-flight football, he’s made 90 saves. That’s seven more than Arsenal’s Bernd Leno, and 10 more than Brighton and Hove Albion’s Mat Ryan.

Yes, there have been errors – Dubravka was at fault in the 5-0 defeat to Leicester City at the King Power Stadium in September – but he’s had more to do than any other goalkeeper.

Dubravka was busy again at the weekend, when he denied Raul Jimenez and Pedro Neto in the club’s 1-1 draw against Wolverhampton Wanderers at Molineux.

The Jimenez save, in particular, was outstanding. Jimenez met Adam Traore’s outswinging ball from the right with a downward header. Dubravka, somehow, stopped it with his left leg.

Martin Dubravka.

Dubravka also kept out a close-range header from Neto in the second half as Newcastle, hit by the loss of Dwight Gayle and Paul Dummett to first-half injuries, fought to keep the home side out.

Typically, Dubravka – who signed a new six-year deal at the club earlier this season – was modest when he spoke to journalists in the post-game mixed zone.

“I’m happy that I could help the players, especially when we can take one point,” said the 30-year-old, who has kept Karl Darlow out of the team since his arrive on Tyneside.

“Every point is very important for us. After the defeats, we felt that we didn’t do enough in the games. Sometimes we have had injured players, which didn’t work for us. Hopefully, they can be ready, because we need them. We need to collect some points.

“Hopefully, they can be ready.”

Has Dubravka been too busy for his own liking?

“I’m there to help the players,” said the Slovakia international. “They’re trying to help me, so as you saw the last 10 minutes was up and down. If we keep the ball, we can be clinical and score the goal. We deserved one point.”

Dubravka – who was signed, initially on loan, in January 2018 from Sparta Prague – understandably doesn’t keep a count of his saves, and he doesn’t know if this is his busiest season yet as a professional.

What he does know is that they have given him “something special” in terms of his confidence every times he takes to the field.

“I don’t know – I didn’t count,” said Dubravka. “I’m trying just to be focused on the next game and the next game.

“These saves give you something special, something extra. I’m trying to build up the confidence from these good saves.”

The Wolves game was important given team’s festive dip. The team had lost points and players over Christmas and New Year, and “something needed to change”, in Dubravka’s view. He made all the difference.

“Before the game, I thought ‘come on, this is the game when we can make a difference’,” said Dubravka. “I’m really glad that we could take a point. In the position where we lost the last three games, we know we needed to change something.”

Steve Bruce, United’s head coach, said the team was “indebted” to Dubravka at Molineux, where Miguel Almiron’s early goal was cancelled out by a strike from Leander Dendoncker.

“There's been a few where he's made a few mistakes as well, but he's a very good goalkeeper, the fella,” said Bruce. “We're indebted to him. The one down at his feet (from Jimenez) was a world-class save, and good for him.”

The draw against Wolves ended a run of three successive Premier League defeats, and Newcastle showed a resilience at Molineux which had been missing over the festive period.

United are 13th in the league with 26 points ahead of Saturday evening’s home game against fourth-placed Chelsea.

Asked about the team’s second-half performance, Dubravka said: “Especially when you see them running at 85 minutes – 100%. You saw Miguel, he did a great job. Beautiful first goal, and he was running everywhere.

“If you have these kind of players, it will count. This guy (Almiron), praise him!”

Dubravka too deserves a lot of praise.