Foster: “I Never Felt Threatened”
By Kevin Affleck
Ben Foster is closing in on a record number of clean sheets for a season and believes the one he kept against Liverpool on Saturday was the most satisfying of his career.
The 'keeper barely had save to make against the free-scoring Reds, who have rattled in 64 league goals this season and scored in each of their last 35 Premier League games. He has kept nine clean sheets this season – only Alisson Becker and Nick Pope have kept more – and he is now only two shy of the 11 he kept for West Bromwich Albion in 2014/15.
“I think it is,” said Foster when asked if keeping Mohammed Salah, Roberto Firmino and Sadio Mané at bay represented the best of his 88 Premier League shut outs. “We needed it badly. But it's not just about me, it's the lads in front of me. It's so cliched but it was a massive team effort. They had no shots that were going to go in the back of the net. Even when they had crosses in the box, I never felt like they were going to get on the end of it. I never felt threatened. To say that, against a team like Liverpool, is massive kudos to our lads.”
Foster has thrived working under Graham Stack since the former Arsenal 'keeper took up the goalkeeping coach role in December and has kept six clean sheets in that time and pulled off those two stunning saves at Sheffield United and that one at home to Aston Villa.
“I think he has been outstanding,” said Stack. “He's been super reliable and a massive help to the team, not just as a player and a performer but as a character in and around the group. If Fozzy keeps playing the way he is, we'll be fine. He's up there [with the best I've seen and worked with], no question. He's a pleasure to work with every day and commits to everything. We sit down and have a chat about one or two things and have an honest conversation. We discuss things and I think it's worked. Long may it continue.”
Stack and Foster are the life and soul of the place. There are only two years between them and they've really hit it off, with Stack well aware he is not about to start teaching Foster new tricks at the age of 36. He keeps things fresh, puts smiles on faces, listens to Foster's body language and gets him in the right mental shape ahead of games.
“He is exactly what we need: characters like him and Hayden [Mullins],” said Foster. “It's no surprise they have been kept on. They are likeable and know what they are talking about. You see Stacky doing set-pieces on a Thursday or Friday, putting people into position because the lads listen to him. You need characters like that around the place. He's a pleasure to have around and to work with. He's played the game, he knows the game and knows what goalies need and what I need.”
See inside a Watford FC goalkeeper training session with our exclusive Mic'd Up and GoPro footage of Ben Foster and Graham Stack with Heurelho Gomes and Dan Bachmann...