At the start of this campaign it seemed as though we had an obvious choice for our number one keeper which was Tim Krul. Although Krul was plagued with injury last season he was getting fit again during the summer and looked poised to be starting in goal for us beginning life in the Championship.
In August, Krul went back to Holland and joined Ajax on loan still recovering from his ankle injury then joined AZ in January until the end of the season.
However as a surprise to many we signed Matz Sels from Gent for £6.5 million in the Summer and he started as our first choice keeper. Although Sels wasn't a household footballing name he was in the Belgium squad and must have caught the eye of Rafa but signs were there early on that he wasn't quite ready for English football, he made a few costly mistakes which ultimately lost him his place in the starting eleven.
With Rob Elliot still injured our backup keeper was Karl Darlow who had impressed at the end of last season having put in some good performances including the highlight save from Yohan Cabaye's penalty vs Palace. Since Darlow has come into the team his performances have been good overall, some of his saves have been memorable including the double penalty saves at Forest in December and that awesome recovery save vs Rotherham. Everything hasn't been plain sailing for Darlow though as he had made a few mistakes notably against Norwich and Bristol City and he hasn't looked totally comfortable claiming crosses into the box. I think Darlow has a very bright future because he has all the attributes to be a great keeper.
Apart from Tim Krul who's currently out on loan, in my opinion, the best keeper at the club is Rob Elliot, he's the most consistent keeper and he's proven that he's Premier League quality by winning our player of the year last season. Elliot rarely makes a mistake and he looks comfortable in all aspects of goalkeeping, shot stopping, claiming crosses and his judgement/decision making is spot on. It's a shame that he's been injured which has lead to no game time for him so far this season.
Looking ahead to next season Rafa has to make a decision on who will start between the sticks, (hopefully in the Premier League). With Krul, Darlow, Elliot, Sels and Woodman all under contract it will be interesting to see who Rafa selects to be our number one keeper, the obvious choice would be Tim Krul and I believe Krul has no intensions of leaving on a permanent deal. If Krul does start in goal next season where will that leave Elliot, Darlow and Sels? We will have to wait and see what happens over the Summer and all the answers will be revealed.