English Premier League: Ranking Each Goalkeeper from the "Big 6" Clubs
Having a solid goalkeeper is absolutely essential for sustaining a healthy title bid. You could have an excellent squad with a sturdy defense, a creative midfield, and clinical forwards and still not win trophies if you have a poor goalkeeper.
We've seen it a number of times, with Arsenal being a perfect example. The Gunners had a fine squad at their disposal in the past few seasons, but Manuel Almunia, their No. 1, let them down with his inability to hold the ball and his schoolboy errors.
The point is, a club can flourish when it has a superb keeper. So far this season, there seems to be an in with the new and out with the old fad, as many experienced keepers are starting to be outshone by their younger counterparts.
Here are the keepers from the "Big Six" clubs (Manchester United, Manchester City, Chelsea, Arsenal, Liverpool, and Tottenham) power ranked.
6. David de Gea
Although David de Gea has rapidly improved since the beginning of the season, he's still simply not as good as the other goalkeepers fighting for the Premier League title.
At times, the Spaniard has rescued Manchester United with a number of incredible saves, but his presence in the box continues to be weak as he adapts to the physicality of the English game. There's hardly a doubt that with time he'll be one of the best in the league, but at the moment, he's still adjusting and finding his footing.
Don't think of de Gea as the worst keeper out of the Big Six, think of him as the least developed.
5. Petr Cech
Well, this is a bit odd.
I'm used to considering Petr Cech as one of, if not the best goalkeeper in the Premier League, but this season, he just hasn't been his usual self. At 29 years old, Cech should be at the peak of his career, but the Czech Republic international is simply failing to find form.
He had arguably his worst-ever performance in Chelsea's 5-3 loss to Arsenal at Stamford Bridge, as Cech was caught at his near post three times. He didn't put up much of a fight against any of Arsenal's shots, and in general hasn't looked strong at all this season.
Maybe it's just his recovery from injury, but something's wrong with Petr Cech.
4. Wojciech Szczesny
As an Arsenal fan, it feels like an injustice to put Arsenal's promising young shotstopper at only fourth, but I'm trying to put my bias aside for this decision.
In fact, it's remarkable that Szczesny is fourth on this list. For once, the Gunners have a keeper who's better than both Manchester United's and Chelsea's, and this is a guy who's 21 years old and made his debut just last winter.
Since then, Szczesny has climbed the world football totem pole, stunning crowds left and right with his outstanding saves and commanding presence in the box. If it weren't for Robin van Persie's blistering form, Szczesny would probably be considered the Gunners' best performer so far this season.
Keep it up Szczesny, and you'll be the best in the world one day.
3. Joe Hart
Joe Hart was arguably the best keeper in the Premier League last season, earning his place as both England and Manchester City's No. 1.
His excellent shot-stopping abilities and commanding defensive presence has earned Hart loads of praise, and it's sometimes hard to believe he's only 24 years old. However, Hart hasn't been quite as good this season as he was in 2010/11, and although he's continued to impress, some minor flaws and frailties have been shown.
Once Hart tweaks his game to near perfection, he'll be back to being arguably the best goalkeeper in the Premier League.
2. Brad Friedel
Brad Friedel is 40 years old, but it's really not showing.
The American moved to Tottenham Hotspur on a free transfer from Aston Villa this summer, and since then, he's been absolutely brilliant. Friedel has made saves left and right for Spurs, ensuring the North London outfit started the season in excellent form, putting them in fifth place with a match in hand.
Unlike the youngsters on this list, it really is hard to believe that Friedel is 40 years old, the football equivalent of an old man—40 is even old for a goalkeeper!
If Brad Friedel continues his incredible form, he could definitely be considered the best goalkeeper in the Premier League for the 2011/12 season.
1. Pepe Reina
Pepe Reina is simply an excellent keeper. It's really as simple as that.
He's the Spaniard with the most Premier League appearances and has played every league match for Liverpool since the 2007/08 season, meaning he's currently one of the most experienced players in England.
The main thing about Reina, the thing that makes him so highly praised, is his consistency. The Liverpool shot-stopper rarely makes an error and puts in superb performances week in and week out for the Reds.
It's Reina's ability to consistently perform well at such a high level that makes him the best goalkeeper in the Premier League.