If you look at a fixture list for Southampton this past season, you may notice a trend beginning on the 13th of January. Southampton began winning games, and for a brief period of six straight matches, didn't concede a goal. That rise in form can be attributed to one man: Fraser Forster.
When Forster came back, Saints were out of both cups, Europa League was an afterthought, and they sat mid-table. Forster's return not only brought a sense of excitement to fans, he instilled confidence in the team, the defense more specifically, and even made a few saves.
Upon Forster's arrival, Southampton won 12 of their final 18 matches, and only lost three of those.
Here is a chart based on what Saints projected form would be had Forster been around all season. Champions. While this chart is great in showing Forster's huge part in the team, it is also quite depressing to think about what could've been.
Fraser Forster may not have been the reason for every victory, or every loss or draw. Forster did have game-defining saves however, and on one occasion, definitely was the reason for 0-0 draw at the Emirates on the 2nd of February.
Forster is immense, and his size and strength are keys for him and his abilities. With a quick reaction time, getting a simple hand on an opponent's shot is enough to parry it away from goal. Forster does have shockers occasionally, as most keepers do. But with Forster, the good far outweighs the bad.
Some shots, like in the game against Arsenal, are almost no-doubters to be in the back of the net, but Forster saves them. He amazes me with some of the saves he can make. The future is bright with Forster in net.
Now, for the final grade, I asked the rest of our writers their thoughts and grade on Forster, and we threw together a final summary and report for the Englishman.
FINAL GRADE: 9/10
Summary: A contract extension, winning games, and key saves, what more could you want from Fraser Forster? Other than matches against Chelsea and Bournemouth, he was above-average and key man to the Saints being back in the Europa League. His save percentage was at 75%, compared to Joe Hart's 73% and Jack Butland's 67%. Immense.