Wojciech Szczesny has been a mainstay in goal for Premier League leaders Arsenal. But is he the best keeper in the league right now?
Goalkeepers are often the most scrutinized position of the pitch. When a keeper makes a gaffe, the clip goes to live on YouTube and blooper reels for years to come. But very rarely do they get the credit they deserve for keeping their team in a match.
With one-third of the Premier League season complete, goalkeepers have had enough time to prove who is on form and who needs to step up his game to avoid being relegated to the bench.
To be ranked, a keeper must have made at least six appearances this season.
All statistics from squawka.com unless otherwise noted.
Life at Sunderland hasn't been the easiest so far this season. The Black Cats have already sacked a manager and currently sit dead last in the Premier League table.
Sadly, Kieren Westwood hasn't done much to help the Sunderland cause. The Republic of Ireland international has conceded 2.09 goals per match, while only stopping 1.30 shots per goal allowed, a percentage of just 56.5 percent.
Westwood has also failed to keep a clean sheet in any of his 10 appearances this season.
Westwood has missed the last three matches due to injury, with Vito Mannone replacing him. If Mannone can play well, Westwood may have a hard time reclaiming his spot as Sunderland's No. 1.
Julian Speroni has been a faithful servant to Crystal Palace, playing almost 300 matches for the club since arriving from Dundee in 2004.
Almost all of that time was spent in the Championship, and after 13 matches, one must wonder if Speroni isn't in a tad over his head in the Premier League.
The Argentine has conceded 1.69 goals per match, while making 2.08 saves. His save rate of 1.23 saves per goal is only 55.1 percent.
At 34, this season may be Speroni's last chance at Premier League football unless Palace can rise out of the bottom three.
Making the move to Fulham from Roma in the summer, Maarten Stekelenburg was supposed to be an upgrade over and long-term replacement for Mark Schwarzer, who left to become Petr Cech's backup at Chelsea.
However, Stekelenburg was injured early in the season and hasn't exactly lived up to his reputation since returning in mid-October. The Dutch keeper has conceded 1.71 goals per match and has only stopped 1.7 shots per goal allowed, a rate of 62.9 percent.
David Stockdale posted better numbers than Stekelenburg during his spell in the Fulham net, but to no avail. Former manager Martin Jol seemed keen on sticking with his high-priced signing.
"I didn't buy him to be on the bench, you know what I mean?" Jol said, according to David Kent of the Daily Mail.
New boss Rene Meulensteen may not show the same faith in Stekelenburg if his performances don't improve soon.
To say that Joe Hart is having a rough start of the season would be an understatement.
Hart has been temporarily dropped from the Manchester City lineup in favor of Costel Pantilimon, and his status as England's No. 1 keeper has been questioned.
Besides the obvious errors in judgement, the numbers aren't that forgiving to Hart either. The 26-year-old is only conceding 1.22 goals per match and has kept three clean sheets. But Hart is only stopping 50 percent of shots on target, allowing as many goals and saves he has made.
Both Roy Hodgson and Manuel Pellegrini hope that Hart will return to his form of years past instead of his current one before the season is over.
Last season, Michel Vorm was considered by many to be one of the top keepers in the Premier League.
This season, just like many of his Swansea teammates, Vorm seems to be in a bit of a funk to start the season.
During the 2012-13 campaign, Vorm was making 2.14 saves per goal allowed, and over three saves per match.
Through 12 games this season, Vorm is actually conceding fewer goals per match (1.18 to 1.46). But the Dutch keeper is only facing about half as many shots.
Vorm is only saving 1.31 shots per goal allowed, a rate of just 56.7 percent. The 30-year-old hasn't been that busy either, making only 1.55 saves per match, the third fewest in the league.
With Joe Hart's troubles well documented, the door for the England No. 1 job should be wide open.
However, John Ruddy hasn't shown the form needed to make the position his.
Ruddy is conceding 1.77 goals per match with Norwich, the third-worst rate in the Premier League. While some of that is through sheer volume—Ruddy is forced to make 2.54 saves per match—his 61 percent save rate (1.57 saves per goal allowed) is well below average.
Despite those difficulties, Ruddy has managed to keep four clean sheets so far for the Canaries.
Part of Hull City's surprising start can be attributed to the play of Allan McGregor.
The Scottish international missed three games due to injury, but in his 10 appearances, McGregor has only conceded 1.1 goals per match while making 2.1 saves per match, keeping three clean sheets.
The 31-year-old could improve his distribution, his 45 percent completion rate is worst in the Premier League. McGregor's save rate of 1.91 saves per goal allowed (65.6 percent) is also slightly below the league average.
David De Gea may not have to constantly worry about being dropped to the bench with Sir Alex Ferguson now watching in the stands. But that doesn't mean his performances this season have been all that great.
De Gea's stats are the living definition of mediocre. His goals-allowed rate (1.31 per match), saves per match (2.31) and saves per goal allowed (1.76) all rank between 12th and 14th among Premier League keepers.
The 23-year-old has also had difficulty dealing with balls in the air, only claiming 92 percent of balls he's come out for, second worst among Premier League keepers. However, that is actually an improvement over last season's 88 percent.
Playing in Fulham's first seven matches of the season, David Stockdale made the case that he should be the Cottagers' No. 1 in goal.
Despite playing behind one of the Premier League's leakier defenses, Stockdale only conceded a very respectable 1.13 goals per match and kept three clean sheets, compared to Maarten Stekelenburg's 1.88.
The 28-year-old also ranks in the top five of Premier League in saves per match with 2.75 and saves per goal allowed with 2.44, a rate of 70.9 percent.
No keeper in the Premier League can claim to have been kept busier than Cardiff City's David Marshall.
Such activity helps explain why the 28-year-old holds one of the higher goals against rates in the Premier League, conceding 1.58 goals per match. But Marshall saves 2.42 shots per every goal allowed, a respectable rate of 70.7 percent.
As well as Marshall is doing, perhaps Vincent Tan and Malky Mackay should get some help in front of their goalkeeper to make sure Cardiff don't slip into a relegation battle toward the end of the year.
Boaz Myhill has proven that he is a capable replacement for Ben Foster at West Bromwich Albion.
The Welsh international took over the goalkeeping duties after Foster played the first two matches for the Baggies. Since then, Myhill has kept three clean sheets while making 2.55 saves per match.
Myhill is also very comfortable in the air, successfully claiming 100 percent of crosses he's attempted to claim and having a 55 percent success rate on punches, which is third in the Premier League.
The 31-year-old could be a bit better of a shot-stopper though. Myhill's 1.36 goals conceded per match and 1.87 saves per goal allowed (65.1 percent) are fairly pedestrian by Premier League standards.
As Tim Krul proved in his amazing 14-save performance against Tottenham this season, he is capable of keeping Newcastle in the match or even winning it on occasion.
However, the floodgates are capable of opening as well, such as the four Krul conceded against Manchester City.
The truth is probably somewhere in the middle, as the Dutch keeper has posted respectable numbers this season.
Krul's goals-conceded rate of 1.38 per match is rather average, but most of that is due to the high number of shots he faces. His 2.85 saves per match is third in the Premier League, and his 2.06 saves per goal allowed is just above league average.
Asmir Begovic's inclusion this high in the rankings might surprise some people.
The Bosnian keeper has been kept busy, making 2.46 saves per match. Begovic's goals-against rate of 1.38 is respectable for a team sitting 14th in the table. The 26-year-old has also kept four clean sheets in 13 appearances.
Begovic's save rate of 64 percent (1.78 saves per goal allowed) could be a bit better, though. But he does have one claim that no other Premier League keeper can claim this season—his long-distance goal against Southampton back in early November.
No one can question the commitment of Hugo Lloris to Tottenham Hotspur.
Lloris continued to play after being knocked unconscious in a draw versus Everton. He never should have been allowed to continue, but the Frenchman picked up one of his Premier League-leading seven clean sheets that day.
The 26-year-old has only conceded 1.08 goals per match, the fifth-best rate in the Premier League. Lloris has also stopped 2.17 shots per goal allowed, a rate of 68.4 percent.
Lloris has also been outstanding in the air, successfully claiming 100 percent of crosses and successfully punching 75 percent of balls he left his line for.
One might wonder where Aston Villa would be in the table without Brad Guzan.
The American international is often called upon to make the spectacular save, yet has only conceded 1.08 goals per match.
Aston Villa are the second-worst team in keeping the ball, possessing the ball only 41.7 percent of the time according to WhoScored, forcing Guzan to be on alert most of the time.
The 29-year-old has made 2.08 saves per goal allowed (67.5 percent) while making 2.08 saves per match and has kept five clean sheets.
Petr Cech seems like he is a lot older than the 31 years that he is.
But the Chelsea mainstay has continued to be solid in between the posts for Chelsea. While he isn't the busiest keeper in the Premier League—his 1.38 saves per match is next to last in the Premier League.
But Cech has kept the ball out of the net; his 0.85 goals conceded per match is the third best in the league.
Many people thought that Jussi Jaaskelainen's career as a No. 1 goalkeeper was finished when he lost the job to Adam Bogdan at Bolton Wanderers.
But a move to West Ham United to join up with former Bolton boss Sam Allardyce has re-energized the 38-year-old.
Jaaskelainen ranks in the top five in goals allowed per match (1.08), saves made per match (2.69) and saves per goal allowed (2.50, a rate of 71.4 percent).
While West Ham may be near the relegation zone, no one can put the blame on Jaaskelainen.
Artur Boruc has never been classified as being the most stable person, on or off the pitch.
Conceding goals to Asmir Begovic from 90 yards away or to Olivier Giroud while dribbling around his penalty area is some of the bad you take with Boruc. But you get a lot of good with the Polish keeper as well.
Boruc is leading the Premier League in fewest goals allowed with a rate of just 0.62 per match. While Southampton's defense can take a lot of the credit for that—Boruc only stops 1.69 shots per match—they aren't completely responsible. The 33-year-old saves 2.75 shots per goal allowed, a rate of 73.3 percent.
Unfortunately for Southampton, Boruc will be out of action until January with a broken hand.
Premier League strikers have had plenty of reason this season to "Fear the Beard."
Tim Howard has been vital in Everton's current form, which has seen them only lose one match all season. The American has only conceded 1.00 goals per match while keeping a Premier League-leading seven clean sheets. The Toffees' No. 1 also has a respectable save rate of 2.25 saves per goal allowed (69.2 percent)
Howard has done well starting attacks from the back as well. The 34-year-old successfully distributes the ball 68 percent of the time, the second-best rate in the Premier League.
If there were any doubts that Simon Mignolet would be a suitable replacement to Pepe Reina at Liverpool, those doubts should surely be put aside by now.
The 25-year-old has being brilliant since moving from Sunderland. While his goals0conceded rate has been a bit ordinary, allowing 1.23 goals per match, Mignolet has been surprisingly active for a keeper on a top-four side.
Mignolet has been forced to make 3.08 saves per match, second only to Cardiff's David Marshall. The Belgian international also has one of the three best save rates in the Premier League, stopping 72.7 percent of shots on target (2.67 saves per goal allowed).
Mignolet will hope to keep up his excellent form in order to secure the No. 1 keeper role for Belgium in the 2014 FIFA World Cup, with Atletico Madrid's Thibaut Courtois providing heavy competition.
The team at the top of the table also has the Premier League's top goalkeeper.
While Wojceich Szczesny was admittedly shaky at times last season, it appears the Polish goalkeeper has finally matured into a consistent presence between the posts for Arsenal.
Szczesny has posted the second-best goals-allowed rate in the Premier League, allowing just 0.77 goals per match. The 23-year-old also maintains the best save rate in the league, stopping 76.1 percent of shots on target, over 3.2 saves per goal allowed.
He isn't just passing time in goal, either. Szczesny's 2.46 saves per match ranks in the top half of Premier League keepers. The distribution of Szczesny has been spot on as well. His 68 percent completion rate is tied for second in the league.
If Szczesny can continue his fine play, Arsenal will be a hard side to catch in the title race.