Arianet Muric made his worst goalkeeping mistake of the season: How did it happen – and now what?

There are mistakes in goalkeeping; There are bad goalkeeping mistakes, and then there is the kind of mistake Arjanit Muric made in goal on Saturday.

It was not simply the case that the Burnley goalkeeper allowed a back pass to roll under his boot and into his own net. He did so in his club's biggest Premier League game of the season, when his relegation-threatened side led Brighton & Hove Albion 1-0, thus turning three points into one in the blink of an eye.

Some Burnley supporters raised their heads with their hands, while others raised their arms in horror. Most of them stared with their mouths open.

It was arguably the goalkeeper's costliest mistake in the Premier League this season, and to make matters worse it was his second in as many games, having suffered a similar incident at Everton the week before.

But how do you explain a mistake like this, and what happens to Muric now?


the background

There has been controversy over Burnley's goalkeeping position since July when the club signed James Trafford from Manchester City for Β£15m.

Trafford had impressed on loan at League One Bolton Wanderers the previous season and then became the hero in England Under-21s' European Championship win.

It was clear that Trafford had arrived at Burnley as the new No.1, but fans were less convinced. Muric played a big role in Burnley winning the league championship, as they felt he deserved a chance to prove himself in the Premier League.

Trafford started the season as first choice but things did not go smoothly. With a leaky defense in front of him, he conceded 62 goals and his use of the ball sparked disgruntled fans. Trafford is comfortable on the ball but does not have the passing range or activity of Muric.

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Kompany continued to coach the 21-year-old and avoided making serious mistakes until the match against Crystal Palace in February when his poor pass led to Josh Brownhill being sent off with a red card while the game was still scoreless. Burnley eventually lost 3-0.

After two games, Kompany made the change and Muric had a positive impact. The defense looked calmer, making a number of crucial saves in the 2-1 win over Brentford and performing well in the draw against Chelsea and Wolverhampton Wanderers.

Burnley, who looked doomed to failure, had new hope in the battle for survival, especially in the wake of points deductions from Everton and Nottingham Forest. The trip to Goodison Park last Saturday looked pivotal in sealing their fate.

And here Moric's week from hell began. After slowing down the ball, Dominic Calvert-Lewin closed it down…

…And when he tried to pass to Wilson Odubert…

… It hit Calvert-Lewin's leg and went into the net.

Burnley was unable to find a way back into the match and ended the match six points from safety. To have a realistic chance of survival, a win at home to Brighton seemed essential.


The error

For once, luck seemed to be going Burnley's way.

Fifteen minutes remained at Turf Moor yesterday when Brighton goalkeeper Bart Verbruggen, a Burnley transfer target last summer, saw his effort to clear his cannon from the onrushing Brownhill and into the net.

Belief began to return to the pitch: suddenly, the gap to fourth-bottom Nottingham Forest was just four points.

There was a lull in the game as Burnley tried to exert some control through easy possession of their own half. It started when Charlie Taylor played the ball back to Muric, who passed it to Sander Berge on the edge of the penalty area.

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Berg was under a little pressure. Brighton striker Joao Pedro headed towards him casually and returned a simple pass to Muric. It was well paced and precise.

There was no pressure – Brighton's Adam Lallana started to press but was still some distance away.

The Kosovo international attempted to control the ball with his studs rather than the side of his foot, a common tactic in the English Premier League to encourage opposition players to advance, thus making it easier to break through their pressing.

But he got it very wrong. The ball passed under his foot, and despite Muric's persistent attempts to recover the situation, his painful return to his goal line did not succeed.

A moment of madness, a loss of concentration, or simply taking his eye off the ball – whatever the reason, the result was disastrous. When the goalkeeper got back to his feet, he looked dazed and in disbelief.

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Ramifications

Just as with Everton the week before, Burnley were unable to score another goal after Muric's effort and two valuable points slipped through their fingers.

In the aftermath, Burnley's staff did their best to rally around their injured goalkeeper. With Kompany absent from the touchline due to his suspension, assistant coach Craig Bellamy said that the technical staff bears responsibility for the error, by asking the goalkeeper to play from the back.

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β€œIt’s us (as coaches).” β€œIt's not his fault, it's ours,” Bellamy said. “We're not going to change. He's scored goals for us and he's doing what he does. It's not a problem. This is the way we like to play football. It may not be for everyone but we believe in this way. Get the ball back, find the pass once.” Other.

Muric was understandably depressed. After an inaccurate kick following his foul, he turned his back on the game despite the ball remaining in play.

After the final whistle, he was consoled individually by his teammates, who offered him a word of encouragement or a tap on the back of the neck.


Arianet Moric is comforted by Maxime Esteve (Gareth Copley/Getty Images)

Maxime Esteve, centre-back, said: β€œAll confidence in Aro (Muric). “He is a very great goalkeeper. He showed me a lot of things in training and in matches. He made many saves that were very important – Aro saved the team. It's football, he will hold his head up and the team will be with him.”

Bellamy pointed to Muric's close-range save in stoppage time to keep the score level, even if the offside flag was later raised.

β€œWe all make mistakes,” Bellamy added. β€œIt's the way you respond. I have nothing but praise for him because he's willing to keep going.

They were kind words, and Muric was a great player for the club by and large. But he knows how costly his mistakes are. The question now is whether Burnley will stick with him or not.

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