Premier League Goalkeepers: A Ranking from Worst to Best

Mike Miller@mwmiller20Contributor IIISeptember 7, 2012

Premier League Goalkeepers: A Ranking from Worst to Best

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    Goalkeepers are often underappreciated until they screw up. You rarely see large transfer fees or salaries paid for goalkeepers.

    This shouldn't be the case. As an old saying goes in the goalkeeping community: "The goalkeeper is the person you count on to succeed after everyone else has failed." While you can win a title without a great goalkeeper, you can't win one with a bad one.

    With that in mind, here is a ranking of the 20 first-choice goalkeepers in the Premier League as of September 1. Goalkeepers that came into the league at the transfer deadline (e.g. Julio Cesar and Hugo Lloris), were not included in the rankings.

20) Kelvin Davis, Southampton

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    Facing Manchester City and Manchester United in two of your first three games at the Premier League level is surely going to effect your stats in a negative way.

    Kelvin Davis currently leads the Premier League with 14 saves, including two penalty saves (courtesy of some shaky attempts from David Silva and Robin van Persie.) But he also ranks next-to-last in goals allowed with eight.

    Davis' handling and ball distribution has been mediocre, often creating chances for the opposition. He is also only one of two Premier League goalkeepers never to have played at a senior international level.

    If Southampton wants to remain in the Premier League, Davis needs to step up his game.

19) Robert Green, Queens Park Rangers

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    When management brings in another keeper two games into the season after you just joined the club yourself, that's not a good sign.

    Robert Green faces that scenario, as Queens Park Rangers' management went out and signed Inter Milan goalkeeper Julio Cesar on deadline day. So Green's days as the QPR No. 1 may be numbered.

    Green hasn't inspired much confidence so far, allowing a league-worst nine goals, while making only seven saves this season.

    It seems like Green still hasn't fully recovered from his infamous gaffe in the 2010 FIFA World Cup against the United States and Clint Dempsey

18) Jussi Jaaskelainen, West Ham United

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    It looked like Jussi Jaaskelainen's career may have been coming to an end after he lost his place to Adam Bogdan at Bolton last season.

    The demotion wasn't totally unfounded either, as Jaaskelainen was allowing over two goals per game and only stopping two-thirds of the shots he faced.

    But after Robert Green and West Ham United parted ways, Sam Allardyce called up his old keeper at Bolton and made Jaaskelainen the first choice at West Ham.

    So far, Jaaskelainen has repaid Allardyce's loyalty, making 13 saves and conceding only three goals while posting two clean sheets this season.

17) Asmir Begovic, Stoke City

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    Asmir Begovic has been fairly anonymous since taking over the No. 1 keeper role at Stoke City from Thomas Sorensen.

    Begovic was named the starter at the beginning of last season, but struggled to hang on to his job, as Sorensen started 16 matches in the middle part of the season after Begovic struggled.

    Begovic's numbers haven't been awful when he has played. Over the past two seasons, Begovic has conceded 1.35 goals per game and stopped 70.4 percent of shots faced while posting seven clean sheets. He's also made 13 appearances in goal for Bosnia and Herzegovina over the past four years.

    As Begovic gets more comfortable in goal for Stoke City, he should improve and move up the rankings.

16) Pepe Reina, Liverpool

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    Pepe Reina's appearance this low in the rankings may be a shock to some, but there appears to be mounting evidence that Reina's best days are behind him, or at least he's mired in a prolonged slump.

    Reina only made 92 saves last season, tied for fewest among those who played full-time minutes last season. While he posted 12 clean sheets and only allowed 1.13 goals per match, that was a result more of a lack of activity as his defense kept shots at bay. Reina actually only stopped 68.6 percent of the shots he faced.

    He was the only keeper in the Premier League this season (that played in the Premier League last season) that failed to make an appearance in the EA Sports Premier League Team of the Week last season. Even Jaaskelainen and Begovic made one appearance each in the Team of the Week.

    This year hasn't been much better for Reina. He has already conceded seven goals in three matches, and he has only made seven saves. The second goal he conceded to Arsenal last week was especially shaky. 

15) Shay Given, Aston Villa

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    It was a bit of a surprise this past weekend when Aston Villa manager Paul Lambert named American international Brad Guzan the starter and left Shay Given on the bench. Guzan definitely didn't disappoint, making four big saves and conceding only once in a 1-1 draw with Newcastle United.

    A decision like that, and Guzan's performance would make one believe Given may be moving to the backup role on a long-term basis.

    Despite his advancing age, Given's performances haven't been bad, all things considered. Yes, Given has conceded 1.46 goals per match over the past two seasons and only posted eight clean sheets, but a good bit of that hasn't been helped by the defense in front of him. Given has been stopping a respectable 70.6 percent of the shots he has been facing.

    Given recently retired from international football after Euro 2012, making 125 appearances for Ireland. That leads all goalkeepers currently in the Premier League.

14) John Ruddy, Norwich City

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    If there was a keeper that felt like he was caught in a shooting gallery last season, it was John Ruddy. 

    Ruddy has made a Premier League-leading 150 saves last season. Yes, he also conceded 63 goals, a pace of 1.70 goals per match, and only kept three clean sheets, by far the fewest of full-time Premier League keepers.

    Ruddy's save percentage of 69.5 percent over the past two seasons isn't awful, and so far this season, he has made 10 saves while conceding seven goals. His recent play has earned him England call-ups, and Ruddy made his first England appearance as a substitute in August against Italy in Switzerland.

13) Simon Mignolet, Sunderland

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    Simon Mignolet appears to be a rising star among the goalkeeping ranks. He just needs to prove his consistency and durability before making his way higher up the rankings, Mignolet's 2,573 minutes in goal last season rank among the lowest for first-choice Premier League keepers last season, a result of a broken nose.

    Over the past two seasons, Mignolet has allowed just 1.14 goals per match while keeping 12 clean sheets and maintaining an excellent 75.6 percent save percentage.

    Mignolet has taken over the No.1 goalkeeper role for Belgium, and has made 10 appearances for Belgium over the past two seasons.

12) Woijeich Szczesny, Arsenal

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    Wojciech Szczesny is capable of great play at times. Unfortunately for Arsenal, he's also capable of poor play as well.

    Szczesny kept 13 clean sheets and only allowed 1.25 goals per match over the past two seasons. But that could be seen as the strength of the team and defense, and not necessarily Szczesny's play.

    Szczesny has only made 92 saves over the past two seasons, tied for last with Reina among full-time first-choice keepers. His save percentage of 65.2 percent, also last among Premier League keepers, leaves a lot to be desired.

    Szczesny is only 22, so he has plenty of years to mature and develop more consistency. He has already made 12 appearances for Poland and should be their first-choice keeper for years to come.

11) Adam Federici, Reading

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    While Adam Federici's Premier League career has barely begun, his credentials are solid enough to almost get him in the top 10.

    Federici had a phenomenal year last season in the npower Championship. Federici only conceded 0.84 goals per match in 45 appearances and stopped an astounding 85.7 percent of shots he faced, while keeping 20 clean sheets.

    Federici has made seven appearances for Australia, and looks to be the heir apparent to Mark Schwarzer for the Socceroos.

    Federici has struggled a tad in adapting to the Premier League, conceding five goals in his two matches so far this season. But four of those were against Chelsea, so the law of averages should help him out in the future.

10) Ali Al-Habsi, Wigan Athletic

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    Ali Al-Habsi might be the most underrated keeper in the Premier League.

    Al-Habsi's numbers aren't great at face value. He concedes goals at a rate of 1.61 goals per match. Al-Habsi's save percentage is only 69.1 percent over the past two seasons.

    But consider the volume he faces. Al-Habsi made 136 saves last season, third in the Premier League, and has already made 12 saves this season, which is tied for third. Al-Habsi was named in the EA Sports Team of the Week after posting a clean sheet against Southampton in Week 2, and is currently ranked fourth among keepers in the EA Sports Player Performance Index.

    Al-Habsi has also been a faithful servant for his home country of Oman, making 74 appearances. Considering Oman's best ever FIFA ranking of 50 and the fact that Oman has never appeared in a World Cup, such dedication to the national team should be applauded.

9) Mark Schwarzer, Fulham

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    No matter where he has played, Mark Schwarzer has been a solid, dependable keeper.

    Since Schwarzer's 39 years old and has played over 470 top-flight matches in net, injuries are starting to creep up on him. He only played 2,700 minutes in goal last season, among the lowest of full-time No. 1 keepers.

    His numbers are solid, not spectacular. Schwarzer has allowed 1.30 goals per match over the past two seasons and has stopped 72.4 percent of the shots he has faced.

    Schwarzer is one cap away from a century for Australia, and he will surely earn it sometime in the near future as Schwarzer has been named in the squad participating in World Cup qualifying.

8) Brad Friedel, Tottenham Hotspur

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    At 41 years old, no one expects Brad Friedel to play forever. That's the main reason why Tottenham brought in Hugo Lloris at the transfer deadline.

    But Friedel's form indicates that he still may play after the conclusion of this season. Friedel over the past two seasons has only allowed 1.09 goals per match and saved a very good 74.4 percent of shots he faced.

    Friedel's 14 clean sheets ranked in the top five of the Premier League.  In addition, Friedel was named to the EA Sports Premier League Team of the Week three times last season. He has 82 caps for the United States, a number that could be doubled had he not retired from international football in 2005.

    If Lloris takes over the starting role from Friedel sooner rather than later, it won't be because Friedel has played badly.

7) Tim Howard, Everton

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    The current first-choice American goalkeeper, Tim Howard, had a rocky start in the Premier League. Howard started with Manchester United, but ended up fighting with Roy Carroll for playing time, then ultimately losing the starting position to Edwin van der Sar.

    Howard has rebounded nicely at Everton. Over the past two seasons, Howard has only allowed 1.04 goals per match, ranking third in the Premier League. Howard has also stopped a respectable 71.5 percent of shots he has faced and kept 13 clean sheets.

    This season has been no different. Howard already has one clean sheet and has made eight saves while only conceding three goals.

6) David De Gea, Manchester United

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    When David De Gea didn't start last week against Southampton, the warning flags and questions about De Gea showed up again.

    Was Anders Lindegaard just getting a spot start against a lower class opponent? Was Sir Alex Ferguson sending a message to De Gea about his recent play? Is De Gea's spot as first-choice keeper really in jeopardy?

    Honestly, De Gea has actually played really well on the whole since joining Manchester United. Sure, there is the occasional howler, but the numbers don't lie. De Gea has only allowed 1.03 goals per match over the past two seasons.

    Before you claim that is the product of Manchester United's overall superiority, look at De Gea's save percentage. De Gea has stopped 78.2 percent of the shots he has faced, the best percentage in the Premier League. In his two matches this year, he's stopped 11 of 14 shots on goal, a 78.5 percent clip.

5) Tim Krul, Newcastle United

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    Tim Krul is the kind of goalkeeper every team hopes to have. He makes all the saves he should, and occasionally pulls off the brilliant save that boosts his team and leaves the opponents' heads shaking.

    Krul posted 15 clean sheets last year for Newcastle, ranking second in the Premier League last season. Krul was also named in the EA Sports Premier League Team of the Week four times last season.

    Krul's overall numbers aren't spectacular. He conceded 1.34 goals per match and stopped 71.2 percent of shots faced over the past two seasons. But Newcastle doesn't exactly have a world-class defense in front of him.

    At just 24 years old, Krul should be a fixture in the Newcastle net for many years to come unless another club comes calling to swoop him up.

4) Ben Foster, West Bromwich Albion

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    Ben Foster has been a bit of a nomad around the Premier League for years. Loaned out to Watford from Manchester United, finally got a taste of full-time football with Birmingham City, then loaned to West Bromwich Albion, before finally making the move permanent at the start of this season.

    Foster has definitely earned his chance. Last season, he appeared in the EA Sports Premier League Team of the Week four times. His 1.25 goals conceded per match and 72.2 percent save percentage are good numbers for a team that finished mid-table last season. Foster's exploits in goal earned him the West Brom player of the year award.

    So far this season, Foster has been stellar, posting two clean sheets and making 10 saves while only allowing one goal as West Brom find themselves tied for second place in the table. In the EA Sports Player Performance Index, Foster currently ranks second among all goalkeepers.

3) Petr Cech, Chelsea

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    Arguably Petr Cech hasn't been the same keeper he was before a collision with Stephen Hunt in 2006. The collision fractured Cech's skull, almost cost him his life, and has forced him to wear his now trademark rugby scrum cap in goal ever since. He looks awkward at times and can let in the occasional howler.

    Don't let those things fool you. Cech is still one of the best keepers in the game. It would be highly unlikely that Chelsea would have won last year's Champions League without him.

    While he only kept 10 clean sheets, Cech only allowed 1.10 goals per match and stopped 72.8 percent of shots on goal he faced. Cech has already posted two clean sheets this season and is currently ranked number one in the EA Sports Player Performance Index among goalkeepers.

    Cech also remains a stalwart in the Czech Republic net, being the first-choice keeper at Euro 2012. With 95 caps, Cech should reach the century mark some time during World Cup qualifications.

2) Joe Hart, Manchester City

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    Yes, Joe Hart didn't have the busiest of seasons in goal for Manchester City. He was only forced to make 102 saves while playing all 38 matches for the eventual champions. But you can't totally hold the lack or work against him, especially when you look at the numbers.

    Hart conceded a Premier League best 0.82 goals per match and stopped an excellent 75.7 percent of shots he faced, second only to David De Gea. His 17 clean sheets was best among Premier League keepers as well. Hart was also named to the EA Sports Premier League Team of the Week three times last season.

    Hart also has finally given some stability to the England goal as well, something England has struggled with since David Seaman retired. At just 25 years old, Hart has already made 22 appearances for England, a number that will continue to grow over the next 10 years.

1) Michel Vorm, Swansea City

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    It's one thing to be a great keeper when you only have to face three shots a game. It's another thing to be a great keeper when your goal is constantly under siege.

    To their credit, Swansea City have played fluid, attacking football since being promoted last season. The consequence of that is a ton of opportunities for opponents at the other end.

    Michel Vorm faced 195 shots on goal last season, third only to John Ruddy and Ali Al-Habsi. Despite the high level of action, Vorm kept 14 clean sheets, only allowed 1.27 goals per match, and stopped 75.1 percent of the shots he faced.

    Vorm's 146 saves was only second to Ruddy's total saves, and he was named to the EA Sports Premier League Team of the Week five times last season, the most of any keeper.

    His form hasn't dipped at all this season. Vorm has posted two clean sheets, made eight saves and only conceded two goals in his three matches so far.