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Top 10 goalkeepers in Premier League history

Peter Schmeichel was capable of making spectacular saves
Peter Schmeichel was capable of making spectacular saves
Scott Newman
Modified 21 Jul 2020, 18:37 IST
Top 5 / Top 10

The Premier League era has seen the development of some of the best teams in English football history, with huge success for the likes of Manchester United, Arsenal and Liverpool. But while these teams all contained great attacking players, their success could not have been possible without equally great goalkeepers. It has often been claimed that a great goalkeeper can be worth 15 points across a season, and the following 10 almost certainly achieved that for their teams, helping them to trophies and glory.

Here are the top 10 goalkeepers in Premier League history.

#10 Joe Hart

In his prime, Joe Hart was a genuinely great goalkeeper
In his prime, Joe Hart was a genuinely great goalkeeper

The form he showed in his later years – with England and then West Ham and Burnley – has caused his reputation to slip, but in his prime, Joe Hart was a genuinely great goalkeeper. A product of Shrewsbury’s youth system, Hart moved to Manchester City in 2006 as a 19-year old, but first rose to prominence 3 years later.

The 2009-10 season saw him move to Birmingham on loan, where he enjoyed a fantastic campaign and made the PFA Team of the Year. From there he was established as City’s #1, and kept 18 clean sheets in the 2010-11 season, winning the Golden Glove award in the process.

By then established as England’s #1 too, Hart would win the award a further 3 times with City. 2011-12 saw him win the Premier League title with the club, a feat that he repeated in 2013-14. At his best, he mixed tremendous reflexes with phenomenal athleticism, allowing him to make saves that would’ve been impossible for lesser keepers.

Despite his standards slipping as time went on, he produced perhaps his best career showing in a 2015 Champions League match with Barcelona. That game saw him make 10 saves, including a penalty from Lionel Messi.

Since departing City on somewhat bad terms following his poor showing in Euro 2016, Hart has become an easy target for critics. But despite his lack of form since then, his run at the Etihad earns him a spot on this list.


#9 Kasper Schmeichel

Kasper Schmeichel has established himself as one of the Premier League
Kasper Schmeichel has established himself as one of the Premier League's best keepers

It was always going to be hard for Kasper Schmeichel to step out of the shadow of his great father, Peter. But the current Leicester City and Denmark #1 has managed that brilliantly over the last decade, becoming one of the Premier League’s best ever keepers in the process.

A product of Manchester City’s academy, Schmeichel made a number of loan moves in his younger days while only making a handful of appearances for his parent club. Stints at Notts County and Leeds United followed, but his biggest successes have come since his 2011 move to Leicester.

Named as the Foxes’ Player of the Year in his debut season, he went onto keep 19 clean sheets in the 2013-14 campaign that saw them promoted to the Premier League. But it was of course the 2015-16 season that represented the peak of his career.

That campaign saw him play every game in Leicester’s stunning Premier League title victory. The Danish keeper kept 15 clean sheets, made 99 saves and conceded just 36 goals, proving to be a key component of Claudio Ranieri’s side.

Since then, Schmeichel has continued to establish himself as one of the Premier League’s best keepers. He’s now made 368 appearances for Leicester, and is currently part of one of the league’s tightest defences – keeping 10 clean sheets in the current season.

#8 Jens Lehmann

Jens Lehmann was eccentric, but highly skilled too
Jens Lehmann was eccentric, but highly skilled too

German goalkeeper Jens Lehmann played for Arsenal for 5 seasons from 2003 to 2008, marking himself out as a Premier League great in the process. His debut season was actually his most successful, as he was part of the Gunners’ famous ‘Invincibles’ side – going unbeaten for the full campaign.

That campaign saw him keep 15 clean sheets and concede just 26 goals. While his flashy style often saw him make costly errors, he was also capable of brilliance due to his positioning, reflexes and athleticism.

The 2004-05 season for instance saw him named Man of the Match in the FA Cup final as Arsenal won after a penalty shootout; Lehmann’s save from Paul Scholes handing the Gunners the trophy.

2005-06 saw him make his 100th Premier League appearance, and he also helped Arsenal to the Champions League final. That run was historic for the German, as he kept a record 10 consecutive clean sheets in the competition.

During his later seasons in North London, his maverick style became too much of a liability, and he found himself dropped in favour of Manuel Almunia. However, when he departed Arsenal in 2008, he left as a hero in the eyes of the fans – and still stands as one of the Premier League’s best ever keepers.

#7 Alisson Becker

Liverpool's Alisson may well have his best years ahead of him

With more longevity to his name, there’s every chance that in future years Alisson Becker could top a list like this. The Liverpool keeper – signed from Roma in 2018 – is arguably the best in the world right now, and has changed the Reds’ fortunes entirely since joining them.

Nicknamed ‘The Messi of Goalkeepers’ due to his skills with the ball at his feet, Alisson kept 21 clean sheets in his debut season, conceding just 22 goals in the process. That was enough for him to win the Premier League’s Golden Glove award at his first attempt.

His skills also helped the Reds to win the Champions League. After Loris Karius’ errors had cost Liverpool the 2018 final, Alisson instead made a string of key saves throughout the campaign – including 8 in the final – to cement their victory.

The Brazilian’s style might be seen as reckless by some – he has made 3 errors leading to goals since moving to Anfield – but the air of calm he projects is also phenomenal. And with an average of 28 accurate passes per game, he’s almost unmatched when it comes to his kicking ability.

At just 27 years old, there’s every chance that he could spend another decade at the top with Liverpool. He’s already likely to win his first Premier League title this season, and it could well turn out to be the first of many.

#6 David De Gea

David De Gea has been saving Manchester United for the best part of a decade
David De Gea has been saving Manchester United for the best part of a decade

Manchester United’s #1 since his arrival in 2011, David De Gea has gone onto become one of the Premier League’s greatest ever keepers. Signed at the age of just 20, he was initially criticised for a lack of physicality after making a series of costly mistakes in his debut season.

Since then though, he’s gone from strength to strength. 2013-14 saw him make some phenomenal saves, winning United’s Player of the Year award, while 2014-15 saw him make the PFA Team of the Year. 2017-18 meanwhile saw him win the Premier League’s Golden Glove award, after keeping 18 clean sheets.

De Gea is essentially a brilliantly well-rounded keeper. His skills with the ball at his feet allow him to operate as a “sweeper-keeper”, while his size, athleticism and reflexes enable him to make remarkable saves.

His most memorable moments? Perhaps his incredible save against Sunderland in 2013 – hailed as one of the best in football history. And in 2017, he broke the Premier League’s record for most saves in a game, pulling off 14 in a win over Arsenal.

In recent years – since a poor showing in the 2018 World Cup with Spain – De Gea has made more worrying errors leading to goals conceded. However, at the age of 29 it’s likely he’ll bounce back and continue to operate at the top level.

#5 Edwin Van Der Sar

Edwin Van Der Sar won the Champions League with Manchester United
Edwin Van Der Sar won the Champions League with Manchester United

When Peter Schmeichel departed Manchester United in 1999, it took the Red Devils years to find a proper replacement. The likes of Mark Bosnich, Fabian Barthez and Tim Howard all struggled – but Edwin Van Der Sar succeeded.

The Dutch keeper was 34 years old when United signed him, and had enjoyed 4 strong seasons with Fulham in the Premier League. But it was at Old Trafford where he really proved his worth, thanks to his mix of experience, skills and cool head.

His arrival had an immediate impact on United’s fortunes; his second season saw the Red Devils win the Premier League title, while he was named in the PFA Team of the Year. 2007-08 was even better for him. Not only did United retain their league title, but they also won the Champions League, with the Dutchman starring in the victorious penalty shootout.

The 2008-09 season meanwhile saw him break a Premier League record; he helped United to go 11 games and 1032 minutes without conceding a goal. He eventually conceded after a total of 1311 minutes, a record which still stands today.

Van Der Sar’s United career ended in the summer of 2011 after 6 seasons. During that time he won 7 major trophies at the club – marking himself out as one of the Premier League’s greatest and most successful keepers.

Also Read: All Premier League top scorers by season

#4 Ederson

Ederson's skills with the ball at his feet are almost unparallelled

When Pep Guardiola took over at Manchester City in 2016, one of his first acts was to drop longtime #1 Joe Hart. His reasoning was that he wanted a keeper with better ball skills – and so he signed Chilean Claudio Bravo, who turned out to be a disaster, making numerous costly mistakes.

The summer of 2017 saw City sign Brazil’s Ederson as his replacement – and the results were immediate and dramatic. The Brazilian helped City to win the Premier League – conceding just 27 goals. He kept 16 clean sheets in the process, but it was his passing skills that helped him stand out.

Often leaving his goal to act as an extra defender, Ederson’s passing success rate of 85% was unheard of for a keeper. Many of City’s goals began with a pass from the Brazilian, and until the arrival of Alisson in 2018, the Premier League had seen nothing like it before.

Like his compatriot, Ederson’s “sweeper-keeper” style leaves him open to making some mistakes, but for the most part, he’s been phenomenal since his arrival at the Etihad.

2018-19 saw him win his second Premier League title, along with the FA Cup and EFL Cup. It was no surprise to see him named in the PFA Team of the Year, and it wouldn’t be a surprise to see him repeat the feat in the future.

#3 David Seaman

David Seaman kept 130 clean sheets in the Premier League
David Seaman kept 130 clean sheets in the Premier League's first decade

One of the most respected goalkeepers of all time, David Seaman was Arsenal’s #1 for an incredible 13 seasons. Along the way, he helped the Gunners to win 9 major trophies, including 2 Premier League titles.

1997-98 saw him claim his first Premier League title, but 1998-99 was perhaps his best campaign. He played every league game for the Gunners – conceding just 17 goals – as they finished 2nd. By the end of the Premier League’s first decade – in 2002 – no other keeper had kept more clean sheets than his 130.

The latter part of his career saw him plagued by criticism, as it was felt that he’d lost some of his reflexes as he’d gotten older. Despite this, he still pulled off perhaps the best save of his entire career in his final season at Arsenal.

In an FA Cup tie with Sheffield United, Seaman somehow managed to save a Paul Peschisolido header – clawing the ball out and away from any oncoming attackers, despite seemingly being stranded on the other side of his goal.

Overall, no keeper gave off such a calm vibe as Seaman in his prime. He remains second in Arsenal’s all-time Premier League appearance chart with 325 games, and will always be remembered as a legend.

#2 Petr Cech

Petr Cech was one of the Premier League
Petr Cech was one of the Premier League's most consistent goalkeepers

Signed by Chelsea in the summer of 2004, Petr Cech spent 11 seasons as the Blues’ #1. During his time at Stamford Bridge, he won a total of 13 major trophies, including 4 Premier League titles. As a goalkeeper, he was the epitome of consistency, perhaps more than any of his contemporaries.

The Czech international’s debut campaign saw him keep a record 21 clean sheets – winning the Premier League’s Golden Glove award – and incredibly, he conceded just 15 goals all season. 2005-06 saw him concede just 22, as Chelsea again won the Premier League title.

Even a fractured skull, suffered in the 2006-07 season, couldn’t break his consistency. He returned after just 2 months and continued to perform remarkably, keeping 8 successive clean sheets just 6 months after the injury. One month later, he kept another clean sheet as Chelsea won the FA Cup.

The years that followed saw more accomplishments; 2009-10 saw him win his second Golden Glove award and also keep his 100th clean sheet for Chelsea, and 2010-11 saw him voted the club’s Player of the Year.

Perhaps his best moment came in 2011-12, though. In the Champions League final against Bayern Munich, he saved a penalty in extra-time and then another 2 in the subsequent shootout to help the Blues win the trophy for the first time.

Cech’s later years saw him move to Arsenal, and while his time there was not as successful, he still won the FA Cup in 2017.

#1 Peter Schmeichel

Peter Schmeichel became a legend in his 8 seasons with Manchester United
Peter Schmeichel became a legend in his 8 seasons with Manchester United

Manchester United manager Alex Ferguson once remarked that having Peter Schmeichel in goal represented an extra 15 points across a season. In truth, he probably wasn’t wrong. The giant Dane spent 8 seasons at Old Trafford and helped to usher in one of their most successful periods.

In his second season at the club, he was an ever-present as they won the Premier League title. During the campaign, he kept 22 clean sheets, and was named in the PFA’s Team of the Year. From there, he went onto win a further 4 Premier League titles, and 6 other major trophies including the Champions League in 1999.

Schmeichel’s hallmark was his ability to somehow make himself seem even bigger than he was – and at 6’3”, that was quite the feat. He would come charging out of his goal and put off any oncoming forwards; even the great Ian Wright never scored a competitive goal past him.

The Dane was also one of the first goalkeepers to be capable of beginning attacks. Unlike modern-day keepers like Ederson and Alisson, it was not through his passing skills – instead, he could launch the ball out of the box with a throw to an attacking teammate.

Capable of some of the most spectacular saves of all time – such as his ‘save of the decade’ against Newcastle in 1997 – Schmeichel still stands as the Premier League’s best ever goalkeeper, more than 15 years after his retirement. 

Also Read: All Premier League winners by year

Published 05 Apr 2020, 19:23 IST
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