MANILA, Philippines – Philippine Azkal Neil Etheridge just doesn't stop making history after his being the first Southeast Asian to play in the English Premier League (EPL).
The Filipino starting goalkeeper of Cardiff City is also on course in making the most penalty saves in the 2018-2019 season of the top tier league.
Etheridge made 2 out of the 5 total penalty saves since the start of the EPL season last August 11. Fulham's Marcus Bettinelli, Burnley's Joe Hart and Crystal Palace's Wayne Hennessey have all denied a penalty taker this season.
While Filipino fans were elated that the Azkal was given a start in Cardiff's first Premier League game this season, he even brought delight to the Welsh side with the season's first penalty save.
After Cardiff's Bruno Manga conceded a penalty, Etheridge managed to handle the pressure as he completely read and deflected Bournemouth's Callum Wilson's right-footed shot towards the bottom-right corner.
Etherdige continued the momentum into his second game against Newcastle. During added time, Sean Morrison conceded a spot kick via a hand ball in the penalty area.
The Filipino did not show any signs of weariness as he managed to deflect Kenedy's left-footed shot towards the center of the goal for Cardiff's second penalty save this season.
One month into the season, 5 out of 14 penalties have been kept out by goalkeepers for a penalty saving rate of 35.7%.
This is on course in breaking last season's record of 26.3%, where 21 out of 80 penalites taken were denied while 3 were off-target.
Trends show that last season's record rate may spark a rise this season, as the current count of 5 saves is two short of the 1997-1998 season's total of 7 out of 72 penalties taken.
According to Premier League records, the overall save rate of penalties across all seasons is 17.7%, with 407 saves from a total of 2,296 penalties.
Although the goalkeepers got a share of the spotlight at this point of the season, the penalty takers themselves can't be counted out as none of the 14 missed the target.
The 2017-2018 EPL campaign was close to matching to the 2003-2004 season's 2 off-target spot kicks – the lowest number of missed penalties in a season.
The feat was only repeated in the 2009-2010 season, but there is hope that the record can be broken soon. – Rappler.com