Ali Al Habsi of Wigan Athletic celebrates his team's third goal during the Barclays Premier League match between Wigan Athletic and Newcastle United at the DW Stadium.
I missed one yesterday in looking at Latics's player of the season. So instead you are going to get today. The first of the two is our resident ever present in goalkeeper Ali Al Habsi. Would you believe me if I said he hasn't missed a game since signing (ones that he has been allowed to play in, he missed last seasons games against Bolton). And that is just one of the many reasons why he is such a joy to have at the club.
When Ali was signed on loan two summers. I will admit I was a bit skeptical, there were other keepers available, and when I has seen the Omanian play I hadn't been very impressed. But then two games and ten goals later, which have killed Chris Kirkland's Wigan career. Ali Al Habsi stepped up to the plate. And well the rest as they say is history.
The move for both goalkeeper and club has been fantastic. Ali has been given regularly playing time, while we got a international goalkeeper of world class proportions. Not a lot of people see Ali has that a good a goalkeeper, but for me (a goalkeeper myself) you can see just how much rare talent he has.
Flexible, agile and razor sharp reactions, its no wonder that he has managed to keep eight clean sheets for a team which finished in 15th position. That is in no small part to Ali, who even when we were leaking goals like a BP oil rig in the Gulf of Mexico, managed to stem the tide of goals by sticking to his basic goalkeeping principles.
His kicking may not be the best in the world (we all have to have weak spot) yet even that is better than most can muster. Always confident on the ball, he has marshaled and controlled the Wigan penalty area exceptionally well this year yet again.
The link between goalkeeper and defence always has to be a strong one, and since the rise in form of Gary Caldwell. That link has only improved as Ali and Gary have managed to organise and control the movement and shape of our defence. That resulted in us conceding 13 goals since February, and even in our great spell there Ali was still making important saves. The one that comes to mind is the save to deny Yossi Benayoun at Arsenal a goal to equalise.
There have been many great saves this season for him, and that will continue for a long time, as Ali will always be a strong fan favourite. Even though he crossed the M61 divide he is loved and always will be.
Player of the Season
Gary Caldwell (23 votes)
Victor Moses (8 votes)
Maynor Figueroa (25 votes)
James McCarthy (10 votes)
Ali Al Habsi (28 votes)
94 total votes