• Premier League

Guzan: Courtois among best in the world

ESPN staff
September 24, 2014
Brad Guzan has established himself as Aston Villa's first choice goalkeeper © Getty Images

Aston Villa goalkeeper Brad Guzan has hailed Chelsea's Thibaut Courtois as one of the "top five goalkeepers in the world" ahead of his meeting with the Belgian international at Stamford Bridge on Saturday.

Guzan's rise to first choice status at Villa has taken a similar path to the emergence of Courtois as Chelsea's No.1, with both keepers seeing off competition from experienced rivals to assume the lead role.

Brad Friedel and Shay Given have blocked Guzan's path to the Villa team in recent years, while Courtois needed to oust Petr Cech to establish himself at Chelsea and the American confirms it is a satisfying moment to earn the chance to start.

"It's a great feeling when you eventually establish yourself as No.1," Guzan said. "It's not easy being a goalkeeper because you have strikers trying to take your head off and it's different from outfield positions in that only one can play.

"You have to wait for your chance or even your half-chance. You have to take it because you don't know when the next one is coming around.

"Thibaut has gone to Spain, not knowing the language and league, and gone on to achieve individual and team accolades. Now he has come back and established himself as No.1 at Chelsea. Fair play to him.

"There's nothing better that having the confidence of the manager and coaching staff. You want to be dependable and the guy the lads look to if an opposition player gets through the defence.

"You want them thinking that you're going to come up with the goods and make a save at the vital time. You want that responsibility. You relish that opportunity to be No.1, be the guy that's going to hopefully help the team. That's what it's all about.

"Thibaut's resume is outstanding. His accolades for the past few seasons at Atletico [Madrid] speak for itself. With Belgium too. He's only 22 so these things are unbelievable. He's a top, top keeper and someone Chelsea sees their future with.

"He's someone who I believe is one of the top five goalkeepers in the world, but Petr [Cech] is a top, top goalkeeper and a top, top guy too. I chatted to him a few weeks ago when USA played the Czech Republic."

Villa's 3-0 defeat against Arsenal last weekend brought their impressive unbeaten start to the Premier League season to a sudden halt, but Guzan remains convinced they can ruffle the feathers of Chelsea on Saturday.

"Chelsea have a top defence and a top goalkeeper but they have obviously still conceded goals this season," Guzan added. "With the strike force that we have, there's no doubt in my mind that we can cause them problems and ask some very good questions."

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