As we approach the end of another pulsating Premier League campaign, we look at the goalkeepers who've made a difference this season.
Being a goalkeeper is not an enviable job given the scrutiny even the slightest mistake brings, but our list certainly excel in the limelight.
We have selected five of the top performers and the best of the rest but leave it to you to decide who from the list is the standout stopper between the sticks in 2014/15...
David de Gea
“David de Gea, this year, is unbelievable,” Louis van Gaal eulogised last month. “In my career I have had a lot of good goalkeepers. For example, Edwin van der Sar was one of my goalkeepers and (Victor) Valdes also with Barcelona, but De Gea is having a great season.”
High praise indeed. The Spaniard who, worryingly for Manchester United fans, has been tipped to become the successor to Iker Casillas' throne at Real Madrid, has often been the saviour for the 20-time top flight champions as Van Gaal’s revolution has been slow to take off.
While United’s rearguard has floundered, De Gea has stayed at the top of his game. Van Gaal’s men have made 25 errors leading to shots this season, the second most in the league, but only twice has that led to a goal.
Matches against West Ham, Arsenal, Everton, Liverpool and Southampton stand out, with De Gea almost single-handedly bailing out a lacklustre United.
Gary Neville has been the biggest exponent of De Gea’s ability this season, and admitted being taken aback by the 24-year-old’s turnaround: “If you look at the improvements he has made from where he was three years ago, it is absolutely staggering.”
It would have seemed incomprehensible for Jose Mourinho to drop Petr Cech after his impressive 2013/14 campaign, in which he won the golden glove award for joint-most clean sheets in the Premier League (16). However, such is the remarkable talent of Courtois, the Czech Republic international is contemplating a departure from Stamford Bridge after a season spent mainly on the bench.
After being loaned out to Atletico Madrid for three years, where he helped Los Rojiblancos wrestle the La Liga title away from Barcelona, Courtois has become a key figure for the Blues. “He looked totally cold and clinical and in control. The most important thing was he wanted to dominate the game when he came out for the crosses,” Gary Neville proclaimed as he considered why Courtois’ selection over Cech is justified.
The ability to catch rather than punch – a trait lauded in England – is among the reasons Courtois has impressed this term. The Belgian stopper has completed 58 catches, 20 more than his illustrious competitors in this list.
England’s No 1 is always under scrutiny, but, on the biggest stage of all, Hart showed the world he is still very much at the top of his game by thwarting a Barcelona onslaught in the Champions League. Hart's performance at the Nou Camp allowed Manchester City to exit Europe’s premier club competition without being humiliated.
“He was phenomenal, he stopped everything. We have to congratulate him on a great game because he's a fantastic goalkeeper.” Praise from Lionel Messi just holds a great deal more gravitas.
Hart has conceded a goal every 105 minutes so far this campaign which, considering City’s own defensive struggles this season, is a fine effort.
The 27-year-old has had plenty of competition at City, and has been dropped from the side on several occasions, but it seemed to only make him stronger.
“A lot of goalkeepers might have thought 'this isn't for me' but he's been brilliant,” Jamie Redknapp said, acknowledging that the best goalkeepers have to overcome dips in form. It is that ability that separates the great from the good.
Who would have thought it? After the departure of three key defenders in the summer, the Saints were supposed to struggle in this campaign. But, despite the loss of Luke Shaw, Calum Chambers and Dejan Lovren, Ronald Koemen’s men have the best defensive record in the Premier League.
England ‘keeper Forster has amassed 13 clean sheets – two more than his nearest challenger. With an imposing 6ft 7in frame, Forster is a blocker as well as a fantastic shot-stopper, as he proved in a fine performance at Stamford Bridge in a recent draw with Chelsea.
“He helped the team from his goalkeeping and we know he is one of the best in Europe,” Koeman exclaimed, and with such a fine record, the Dutch supremo's words certainly hold a great deal of resonance. A broken kneecap will sideline the 'keeper for six months – a sad end to such an impressive season.
Simon Mignolet was dropped by Liverpool boss Brendan Rodgers in December after a nervy start to the new season but, since his return against Swansea in the club's final game of 2014, the Belgian has made an impressive recovery.
The Reds went on to keep six consecutive clean sheets away from home – equalling a 43-year record - and Soccer Saturday pundit Phil Thompson said: "This boy, for what he has done, and to come through what he has done, he has been absolutely terrific."
Of 'keepers at clubs in the top five, only De Gea (79) has made more saves than Mignolet's 64.
Best of the Rest
Tottenham's Hugo Lloris was called "one of the best in the world" by manager Mauricio Pochettino, while Arsenal's David Ospina has registered the best save percentage of any 'keeper in the Premier League (81.82 per cent).
The number of shots faced is always going to be influenced by the quality of the 10 players in front of the goalie, so perhaps it isn’t a surprise to see that Rob Green of struggling QPR has made the most saves this season. West Ham's Adrian (104) and Swansea's Lukasz Fabianski complete the top three in that category (99).
Meanwhile, Hull’s Allan McGregor is the only goalkeeper to have saved more than one spot-kick this season (two).
So, who is the best goalkeeper in the Premier League? Use the comment section on the skysports.com desktop website to have your say…