Call me biased because I'm a Newcastle United fan, but the fact that I'm a Geordie and proud might actually help me in my clarity of this statement.
I believe Shay Given is the best keeper in the Premier League.
Better then Edwin Van der Sar and Petr Cech, surely I'm bonkers. These were the top two, Man United and Chelsea's last lines of defense in successful seasons. That's right, in my mind Cech only ranks as number four and Van der Sar deserves no mention when it comes to the current best.
Given's only true rivals for the number one spot are Jose Reina and Brad Freidel. These are the keepers who time and time again keep Newcastle, Liverpool, and Blackburn afloat and in contention for their respective goals.
But here is why I rate Shay Given as the Premier League's current best.
He has an unbelievable shot stopping record, and often keeps out those efforts destined for the goal. Examples of this would be his save against Kevin Phillips which was voted the second best save ever of the Premiership era.
He is a steady pair of hands from crosses and hardly lets the ball drop from his hands. He used to have a problem controlling his six yard box but recently he has become better at this aspect. Hardly nowadays is Given beaten by a close range header.
Here's another reason: Given has kept Newcastle afloat during all the bad years when our defense was nonexistent. The days of Shearer's knee injuries meant no attack was in place and often I feared for the worse and I have to feel that Cech would not have had the bottle to keep top-notch performances going during a crisis.
Given's kicking from ground has often been criticized, but that out of hand is unbelievable. Like his control of the six-yard box, his kicking has improved greatly.
Shay Given was heavily linked with a move to United before Van der Sar arrived at Old Trafford. He was also linked to Arsenal before Lehmann got the job but the fact he didn't leave was his refusal to uproot his family. Maybe not United but definitely Arsenal's loss.
In my view, Given would do an equal if not better job than all of the top four keepers at their respective clubs.
So in my humble opinion, the Premier League's current number one is Shay Given.
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