Aston Villa’s number two keeper of the past 3 years, Brad Guzan, was delighted to be given his first start against a premiership team in the league for the first time since he arrived at the club from Chivas USA in 2008. The American keeper was kept out of the team first by his veteran compatriot Brad Friedal, and then by the arrival of Shay Given from Manchester City.
Guzan could only watch on in frustration as Friedal notched up match after match without injury or being rested, and Friedal is still continuing on his record-breaking run of 289 consecutive premiership appearances. “The number of games Brad has strung together is fantastic, a testament to his professionalism. At Villa he was never injured,” recalls Guzan.
It was then the turn of Irish international Shay Given to deny Guzan that elusive start, as he arrived from Manchester this season. Brad must briefly have thought he luck was in when Friedal departed on his way to Spurs, but these hopes were short lived as Alex McLeish brought in another top goalkeeper to take the number 1 spot. “A bit of me believed I’d get my chance when Brad left,” Guzan admitted. “But I knew we were in the midst of bringing in a new manager and the chances were another quality goalkeeper was going to come in with him.”
However, when Shay Given pulled his hamstring racing out to make a clearance against Manchester United, Guzan was called upon, and Given’s month long absence gives the American a real chance to show the manager what he can offer. Brad will play at least six games during a busy Christmas period, and believes his previous experience will stand him in good stead. “It’s unbelievable Sunday’s game will be my first league start at Villa Park. But playing in cup competitions and Europe a few years ago have prepared me for this,” said Guzan. “”You don’t need to be the superstar everyone’s talking about after the game. As long as you’ve done your job and kept a clean sheet that’s all you want as a goalkeeper.”