Who is the best goalkeeper of the Premier League era?
Ultimately, there is no right or wrong answer. It’s a matter of opinion.
However, there are a handful of goalkeepers that football fans would say certainly belong in the conversation.
Peter Schmeichel was a colossus in the 1990s for Manchester United and undoubtedly the best goalkeeper in the world for a period of time.
Arsenal and England’s No. 1 David Seaman was also a class act around the same time, before the likes of Petr Cech and Edwin van der Sar became the Premier League’s best ‘keepers.
And in the 2010s, we saw David de Gea dominate before the likes of Alisson Becker and Ederson came onto the scene.
Premier League goalkeepers compete for the Golden Glove award every season.
This individual accolade is awarded to the player who keeps the most clean sheets.
The award has only been going since 2004-05 – so the likes of Schmeichel and Seaman weren’t eligible to win it – but no goalkeeper has won more Golden Glove awards than Cech and Joe Hart.
The pair of them have won it four times apiece.
But this doesn’t necessarily mean they were the best goalkeepers in each of those seasons. It simply means they were playing for sides that kept the most clean sheets. They’re obviously partly responsible for that but, ultimately, it’s the result of a team effort.
Save percentage, though, is a different matter.
And a graphic has been posted on Twitter and Reddit – via @utdarena – which shows the goalkeepers with the best save percentages in Premier League history.
At the very top of the pile is Cech, who boasted an astonishing 91.3% save percentage during the 2006-07 season with Chelsea.
That is unbelievably good.
The Czech ‘keeper is also second on the list, followed by Schmeichel, whose 86.6% save percentage during the 1994-95 campaign is the highest recorded in Man Utd’s Premier League history.
Tim Howard and Pepe Reina are next in the list following their 2006-07 campaigns with Everton and Liverpool, respectively.
You need to go all the way down to 19th place to find one of the Premier League’s current goalkeepers.
De Gea’s save percentage of just over 82% during the 2017-18 campaign is the best of any ‘keeper currently playing.
However, the Spaniard has only posted a save percentage over 80% on one occasion during his spell at Old Trafford.
Alisson also features on this list, albeit quite low down, thanks to his performances during the current campaign.
But why is it that only two goalkeepers from the past decade make the list? What is this data telling us?
Football fans have been debating this on the Reddit thread and one theory is that long shots have decreased significantly in the Premier League in the past decade.
Teams are now smarter than before about where they took their shots from these days.
Because long shots are typically easier for goalkeepers to save this, in turn, boosted their save percentage.
It’s a theory which makes sense. While the likes of Cech and Schmeichel were unbelievable goalkeepers in their prime, De Gea, Alisson and one or two others are of similar standard.
It’s not as if the quality of goalkeeping has significantly decreased in recent years.
If anything, it has improved.
But teams are now more careful about where they shoot from – and it seems ‘keepers are being left with no chance on more occasions thanks to smarter finishing.
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