Premier League: Who is the best goalkeeper in England's top flight?
Hart set to sign big contract - but is he the best in the division?
By Peter Smith
Last Updated: 08/12/14 11:26am
“It’s important for this club to keep Joe with us,” said Manuel Pellegrini, as he revealed his goalkeeper, Joe Hart, is on the brink of signing a hugely lucrative long-term deal with Manchester City.
Speculation puts the value of Hart’s new four-and-a-half year deal with the Etihad outfit at £25m, making the England shot-stopper the highest-paid 'keeper in the world.
However, is Hart truly the Premier League's leading ‘keeper? Speaking on Soccer Saturday, Phil Thompson said the 27-year-old does warrant the biggest pay packet – but there are other goalies out-performing him this season.
"At this moment Thibaut Courtois and David de Gea – just in this league – are probably ahead of him," said Thompson. “De Gea is playing out of his skin. But Joe Hart deserves to be the best-paid player in the Premier League, if Man City deem that they need to keep him. He’s come through difficult spells and he’s come back a better goalkeeper. He’s still got a couple of frailties in him but he’s done excellent.”
So who is the best goalkeeper in the Premier League? Here are some of the contenders…
A string of high-profile errors, including mis-judgements in defeats to Bayern Munich and Aston Villa, saw Hart dropped by Pellegrini in October 2013, with Costel Pantilimon taking his place between the sticks. However, since returning to the City starting XI a month later, the England No 1 has returned to a high level for club and country.
Hart hasn’t been beaten from outside the box this season, while he’s made 22 saves from shots inside the area – including a fine one-handed effort to keep out Everton’s Romelu Lukaku. “This is as good a save as you’ll see this season,” said Jamie Redknapp on Saturday Night Football, acknowledging Hart’s key role in helping City close the gap on Premier League leaders Chelsea to three points with a 1-0 win, Hart’s sixth clean sheet so far this season.
“Courtois has the talent to become the best goalkeeper in the world in the next 12 to 18 months,” said Gary Neville recently. “I believe he will go past Manuel Neuer. The player of the season so far, for me, is not Sergio Aguero but Chelsea’s new No 1, who has brought a smile to my face. And not many goalkeepers make me smile.”
Perhaps the only person not enjoying Courtois’ displays for the Blues this season is benched former first-choice, Petr Cech. However, the Czech can hardly criticise his Belgian replacement; Courtois is key to Chelsea’s league-leading defence, which has been breached just 13 times this season and at just 22-years-old, the shot-stopper – who won La Liga with Atletico Madrid last season – seems set for a long and successful career.
David de Gea
“He’s arguably been the best goalkeeper in the league so far – I’d probably just edge towards Thibaut Courtois because of his size - but in terms of performance no one has done better than him,” said Jamie Carragher in his skysports.com blog this week. “He’s filled out, got more experience and he’s looking like a great acquisition by Sir Alex Ferguson.”
Carragher suggests De Gea has had more work to do this season than Courtois, but in fact the Man Utd ‘keeper – who has let in three more goals than his Chelsea rival – has actually only made four more saves, and has a lower save percentage (69.23 v 71.11). However, he has had to make 10 more saves in the box than Courtois, which suggests United’s defence have left him more exposed.
"For the majority of this season, he’s been absolutely superb,” Matt Le Tissier said of the England international. “He’s made some super saves. A lot of people are talking about the front players at Southampton, who win you games, but he’s made some fantastic saves. He got man of the match on Wednesday against Arsenal and he’s been a fantastic buy.”
Forster produced seven saves in that match at the Emirates, before Southampton were undone by an 89th-minute Alexis Sanchez strike, and the former Celtic ‘keeper has starred in one of the best defences in the division this season. Saints have conceded just 10 times, ahead of their Monday Night Football clash with Manchester United, and three of those came against Man City. No keeper to have played more than three times this season can match his record of saving 71.43 per cent of shots in the box. But then few have a frame like the 6ft 7in Southampton man.
Best of the rest
There are undoubtedly some top goalkeepers in the Premier League. QPR’s Rob Green has been the busiest, making 56 saves – including a stunner to keep out Burnley on Saturday – while Swansea’s Lukasz Fabianski boasts the best save percentage with 75.86 per cent and, like Hart, is yet to be beaten from distance this season. Tottenham’s Hugo Lloris has also won praise this year, while Tim Howard was hailed at the World Cup, following his heroics for USA.
So, who is the best goalkeeper in the Premier League? Use the message boards on skysports.com to have your say….