With the Premier League season nearing the halfway point; it’s clear that there are some of the world’s best goalkeepers currently playing in England’s top flight. From the top of the table to the bottom, the Premier League boasts more quality goalkeepers than any other division in European football.
While there has long been a view that goalkeepers don’t really reach their peak until the age of 30, Manchester City, Chelsea, Arsenal and Manchester United have all opted for talented young stoppers in recent years and the likes of Thibaut Courtois, Wojciech Szczęsny and David de Gea have all established themselves among the world’s best despite being under the age of 25.
It certainly won’t be an easy job for those voting who to name as the goalkeeper in the Premier League Team of the Season in May, but who are the current front-runners to be named the best stopper in England at the end of the campaign. Goalkeepers will inevitably have a big say in how this season turns out and how the odds at Betfair twist and turn for the Premier League title race; now is a great chance to have a look back at who has impressed us most during the first half of the year.
Thibaut Courtois (Chelsea)
There’s little doubt Thibaut Courtois has been one of the stand-out goalkeepers this season. After spending three seasons on loan with Atletico Madrid, the Belgian youngster has finally been given his chance in the Chelsea first team this year. Jose Mourinho made the tough choice to drop long-time number-one Petr Cech in order to accommodate Courtois and the 22-year-old has shown just why the Chelsea boss had made such a bold call. With the Londoners looking every-bit title contenders, Courtois has been a key part of the club’s success in the first half of the season and many have tipped the Belgium international to finish the campaign named the Premier League’s best goalkeeper in his first year as Chelsea’s number-one. While the emergence of Courtois will probably see Chelsea forced to allow Cech to leave Stamford Bridge in order to find regular first-team football, the club certainly looks to be in safe hands for the next 10-plus years with the Belgian in between the sticks.
Hugo Lloris (Tottenham Hotspur)
France’s No. 1 Hugo Lloris has been one of the most consistent keepers in the Premier League ever since his summer 2012 move from Olympique Lyonnais, and that hasn’t altered this season. The definitive sweeper-keeper, Lloris has been one of the rare consistent aspects of an inconsistent Spurs team this year. The 27-year-old has amassed an admirable amount of experience during his career and there are bigger clubs than Tottenham who would love to have the Frenchman in their goal. With Spurs looking to get themselves back into the Champions League, Lloris could find himself forced to leave White Hart Lane in order to participate in European football’s best competition, should Spurs fail to reach the top four. As it stands, Spurs will be desperately hoping they can achieve a top-four finish in the Premier League this season, knowing it could be the difference between hanging onto their inspirational keeper.
David de Gea (Manchester United)
Life in the Premier League may not have started off that well but David de Gea finally looks to be evolving into the goalkeeper everyone always knew he could be. Last season might have been a dismal affair for everyone at United but de Gea’s personal performances throughout the year saw him named the Player’s Player of the Year. While United’s form this season hasn’t been where the club would like, de Gea has again shown himself to be one of the best shot stoppers in the Premier League. At just 23-years-old, de Gea has already established himself as United’s first choice goalkeeper – and the youngster now looks to have finally replaced Iker Casillas as Spain’s number-one. With Real Madrid publically making their interest known, United will know that getting back into the Champions League will be important in their bid to keep de Gea at Old Trafford and out of Real’s clutches.
Wojciech Szczesny (Arsenal)
Arsenal keeper Wojciech Szczesny has picked up this season from where he finished the last one. The Polish stopper finished last season with a league-best 16 clean sheets to his name and Szczesny has again been one of the best in the Premier League this season, all the time playing behind an Arsenal defence that has looked delicate at times this year. Never one to lack confidence, Szczesny has everything needed to be a top-class keeper for the next 10 years, and Arsenal fans will be hoping it’s with them. Not since David Seaman have Gooners been able to take comfort in the knowledge that they have a solid and reliable goalkeeper providing cover for a questionable defence. At 24-years-old, Szczesny could be Arsenal’s number-one for the next decade, and the Poland international is only going to get better.
Joe Hart (Manchester City)
While there have been some critics over the past couple of years, Joe Hart is still rightly viewed as being one of the bet goalkeepers in the Premier League. After briefly losing his place in the City first team last season, Hart returned to form in time to play a crucial role in the Manuel Pellegrini’s men going onto to win the Premier League title. The arrival of Willy Caballero in the summer cast doubt over Hart’s place in the team this year but the England number-one has so far kept his place in the side. With City looking to retain their title this year in the face of an improved challenge from the likes of Chelsea and Arsenal, Hart’s form this season could have a big part to play in the race for the title. At 27-years-old, Hart is entering the prime of his career and he’ll now be looking to prove all his doubters wrong and show Pellegrini and Hodgson that he has to be their first choice goalkeeper.
Fraser Forster (Southampton)
Southampton have been one of the surprise packages this season and much of their success this year has come down to the form of Fraser Forster in the Saints’ goal. Following his summer transfer from Celtic, the former Newcastle stopper has shown just why the south-coast club paid a reported £10million to bring him back to the Premier League after a fruitful four seasons in Scotland. At six-foot-seven but blessed with great reflexes, Forster has the physical attributes to be a world-class keeper, now the question will be whether he has the mental strength to handle being at the top level. The 26-year-old has solved the goalkeeping problems that have bothered the Saints since their return to the Premier League, and some believe he is the man to challenge Joe Hart for the starting spot in the England team. Now a regular member of the England squad, Forster will be looking to add to his two England caps as well as helping Southampton consolidate their incredible early-season form.
Tim Howard (Everton)
On the back of a sensational World Cup showing, Everton’s Tim Howard had begun this season with many labelling him the Premier League’s best keeper, if not one of the best in world football. While the American stopper might not have performed as well has he would have liked during the first half of the season in the Everton goal, Howard has slowly begun to show the sort of form that has made him such a key part of this Toffees side under Roberto Martinez over the past few years. The 35-year-old might be one of the league’s elder statesmen but Howard has shown no signs of slowing down and Everton fans will be hoping their goalkeeper is still a few years away from hanging up his gloves and calling time on his time at Goodison Park.
Tim Krul (Newcastle United)
Tim Krul made the headlines during the summer with his World Cup cameo for Holland in their penalty shoot-out victory over Costa Rica. Now back in Newcastle, Krul has done everything he can to ensure he keeps himself in the spotlight. While Newcastle endured a dismal start to the season, Krul maintained his consistency throughout the tough patch and played a big role in Alan Pardew’s men finding their form and embarking on a sensational winning streak in recent weeks. The emergence of Krul meant Newcastle were willing to sell Fraser Forster to Celtic in 2012 and so far the Netherlands international has proved the club were right to back him. Long courted by some of European football’s best clubs, Krul will know his form this season could well earn him a move to a Champions League team sometime in the future.
Asmir Begovic (Stoke City)
While other goalkeepers may earn more headlines than Asmir Begovic, the Stoke City stopper has been one of the Premier League’s most consistent keepers over the past five years. Playing behind one of the most solid defences in the league, Begovic has been the platform on which much of Stoke’s work has been built since their return to the top flight. After another impressive season last year, Begovic has again been one of the top performers so far this year, playing an important role in Mark Hughes plans at the Britannia. The likes of Liverpool, Arsenal and Manchester United have previously come sniffing around Begovic in the past and Stoke will be preparing for more interest in their keeper come January after Real Madrid were linked with the Potters man. With Jack Butland waiting in the wings, Stoke have seemingly prepared to one day lose Begovic. But the club won’t want to lose their number-one keeper in the middle of the season.
Brad Guzan (Aston Villa)
Things might not be going overly well at Villa Park but Brad Guzan’s form has rarely waivered since he replaced Shay Given as the Aston Villa number-one. The American spent much of his early life in England playing second fiddle to Given but has wasted little time in establishing himself as one of the league’s most consistent goalkeepers since replacing the Irish veteran. While Villa have struggled during the first half of the season, they have been able to rely on Guzan to bail them out of trouble on a number of occasions this year. Playing behind a questionable defence, the American stopper is an important part of Villa’s hopes of avoiding being involved in a relegation battle later this season. With Tim Howard nearing the end of his career, Guzan also knows he needs to prove he is the man to replace the veteran as the USMNT first choice goalie.
Julien Speroni (Crystal Palace)
Now in his 10th year at Crystal Palace, Julien Speroni is still an automatic first choice for Neil Warnock. The ageless Argentinean appears to have improved year-upon-year and, since the club returned to the Premier League, has been easily one of the division’s most reliable keepers. With Palace looking likely to be involved in a relegation battle this season, the 35-year-old will be instrumental to the club’s hopes of survival this year. Without the physical attributes of some modern keepers, Speroni makes up for it with some incredible reflexes and a fearless attitude, and Palace fans will never underestimate just how much they owe to their South American stopper.
Kasper Schmeichel (Leicester City)
With Peter Schmeichel as a dad, it’s fair to say there has been pressure on Kasper Schmeichel’s shoulder to not let the family name down. And so far, it’s fair to say Kasper has more than done his father proud. After playing a key role in Leicester winning promotion back to the Premier League last season, Schmeichel has gone about proving he belongs in the top flight after learning his trade in the Championship. With some fantastic shot-stopping abilities, Schmeichel could often make better decisions but there is more than enough there to prove he could be vital in the club’s hopes of avoiding an immediate return to the Championship.