The subject of goalkeepers has been a very hot topic so far this season in the Premier League.
From Petr Cech’s transfer from Chelsea to Arsenal, to David de Gea’s on-off-on-off move to Real Madrid, it’s no secret that those teams looking to challenge for honours know the importance of having a reliable goalkeeper between the sticks. While much of the focus when it comes to transfers is on signing a striker who can score 20+ goals, a midfielder who can thread a pass through the eye of a needle or a defender who can tackle like Bobby Moore – it’s crucial for managers to get it right when it comes to their number ones.
So, with the season now well under way, let’s have a closer look at some of the Premier League’s best goalkeepers.
David de Gea (Manchester United): Ever since his arrival at Old Trafford, many people felt it was only a matter of time before De Gea would make his return to La Liga with Real Madrid. Following a tough start to life in England, the former Atletico shot-stopper has gone on to establish himself as one of world football’s most impressive goalkeepers. With his contract set to expire at the end of the season, Real tried to sign De Gea during the summer, waiting until the last possible moment to push through the deal only to see the transfer fall through due to an administrative error. A couple of uncertain weeks followed before United and De Gea came together and surprisingly thrashed out a new four-year contract to stay at Old Trafford.
With his future now seemingly sorted, at least until next summer, De Gea has swapped his place in the stands for his preferred position between the posts in the United first team. And that has come at just the right time for a club whose slow start to the season has seen their title odds drift somewhat with the likes of betfair over recent weeks. Having ousted long-time Spain number-one Iker Casillas from the national team, De Gea knew that playing regular first-team football was going to be crucial to his hopes of hanging on to his place ahead of next summer’s European Championship. One thing is for sure, both United and Spain stand a much better chance of success with De Gea in the team.
Thibaut Courtois (Chelsea): On the back of an impressive first season in the Chelsea first team, Courtois certainly lived up to the hype that has surrounded him ever since his initial arrival from Genk in 2011. Following a three-year loan spell in Spain with Atletico Madrid, during which time Courtois enhanced his reputation as one of the best young goalkeepers in Europe, Jose Mourinho felt confident enough in the Belgium international to replace Petr Cech as Chelsea’s first choice.
Despite some doubters claiming the Blues should have stuck with Cech last season, Courtois went on to play a huge role in Chelsea winning the 2014/15 Premier League title and the League Cup, playing 39 games in all competitions for the London club. At 6’ 6’’, with razor-sharp reflexes, impressive distribution and a command of his area which belies his 23 years, Courtois is everything you want from a modern goalkeeper. A knee injury is expected to keep him sidelined until Christmas, though, and it’s no surprise that Chelsea haven’t enjoyed the best start to the season without their first-choice goalkeeper.
Joe Hart (Manchester City): Despite suffering patchy runs of form over the past couple of season which saw him briefly dropped from the City side, Hart has continued to show just why many feel he is the best English goalkeeper since David Seaman. While his form could not stop Chelsea from ripping the Premier League title from City’s hands last season, Hart reminded everyone that he is still one of the league’s most reliable men between the sticks, winning the Premier League’s Golden Glove award for the fourth time in five seasons.
Now the undisputed City and England number one, despite the presence of Willy Caballero at the club, Hart has started the new season in promising form and looks back to his very best. The goalkeeper has been instrumental to the club’s incredible start to the new season. While Hart isn’t the only reason behind City’s remarkable defensive record over the past couple of years, it is not a coincidence that the team look a lot more solid when the England man on the field. At 28 years old, Hart is still to reach his prime, and both City and England can feel rightly confident they won’t need to look for another keeper any time soon.
Petr Cech (Arsenal): To say the Gunners only made one big name signing during the summer, the fact it was a deal to bring Petr Cech to the Emirates from Chelsea ensured that a lot of Arsenal fans still viewed the transfer window as a successful one. During his distinguished Chelsea career, Cech established himself as one of the world’s best goalkeepers, winning 15 trophies over the course of 11 stellar seasons at Stamford Bridge. It says a lot about how highly the Chelsea fans held the Czech international by the fact a huge percentage of the Blues supporters felt the club should have kept Cech at the club despite the presence of Thibaut Courtois.
There was also the small matter of selling one of the Premier League’s most consistent goalkeepers to a title rival, helping solve an issue that has plagued the Gunners ever since David Seaman left in 2003. The lack of a top-level goalkeeper has been blamed for Arsenal’s failure to win the league for over a decade, and there are a lot of Gunners who feel as though the club now stand a realistic shot at challenging the likes of Chelsea and Manchester City in the league over the next couple of seasons.