Top 5……

To kick off our top five series, we’ve gone for a reasonably straightforward title (or so we thought!) :

Top 5 Premiership Goalkeepers:

(5) : David James, Portsmouth.

Say what you want about the big man, but his form last season alone proved that as he has got older he has matured from the man who used to come charging from his penalty area on regular occasions (generally in vain), to the man who broke the record for Premiership clean sheets last season, previously held by David Seaman. The 36-year-old signed a new two year deal with the option of a third season in May, which shows he is not intending to quit anytime soon. James’ impressive physique may see him play on into his forties and last season saw the former England keeper in the best of form so there’s no reason to think he can’t play at the highest level for a long time to come. Shot-stopping has always been James’s forte, and he is one of those larger than life characters who tends to lead from the back. However, his ability at claiming crosses, particularly from set-pieces has seen him ridiculed as ‘calamity James’ in the past, and those ridiculous haircuts mean he can’t expect to get any higher than fifth in this top 5.

(4) : Jose Reina, Liverpool:

While many may have expected Reina to be higher on the list, the Spaniard’s high profile mistakes in the last year have meant the jury is still out on his abilities, although Reina did begin to produce far more consistent form in the second half of the season. The Spaniard has possibly the best distribution from a keeper in the Premiership and has no equal when it comes to saving penalties as he demonstrated in high pressure games against West Ham and Chelsea. However while no-one can deny his ability as a shot stopper, Reina has suffered from mistakes on the biggest stage including his performance against West Ham in the FA Cup Final of 2006 (although he made amends in the resulting shoot-out) as well as vital games against Manchester United and Everton. Like James, Reina has kept a huge number of clean sheets in his first two seasons at Anfield and is clearly trusted implicitly by Rafael Benitez. 29 clean sheets in his first 50 games for Liverpool proves the ability he brings to the table for Liverpool, however Reina will need to cut out the errors and improve on his set-piece defence to become the top keeper that he has the potential to be.

(3) :  Shay Given, Newcastle.

The Irish international has been an incredibly loyal servant to Newcastle since arriving in July of 1997. As he approaches the tenth year of his Newcastle career, Given could be forgiven (had to, no choice!) for thinking about what could have been. Having rejected the advances of Arsenal amongst others during his time at St James Park, the talented shot-stopper has failed to win the silverware that his performances have deserved. An injury-hit season last year masks the fact that Given has been a regular on the team sheet for years now, often deployed behind appalling defences, indeed Roy Keane criticised his former international colleague last year for playing too much for his country. For Newcastle fans, the question is where would the club be had Given not been in goal for the past decade? Player of the season in 2001, a member of the PFA Premiership Team of the Year in 2002 and 2006, was nominated for ’save of the decade’ in 2003 (V. Kevin Phillips in the derby against Sunderland in 2002), and has over 400 appearances for club as well as 74 caps for Ireland. Given has been a magnificent and consistent keeper for many years now and may see the arrival of Sam Allardyce plus new signings Tal Ben Haim, (replacing Titus Bramble, every keeper’s favourite defender) Joey Barton and Mark Viduka as evidence of a squad growing and possibly being able to challenge for major honours in the years to come.

(2) : Edwin van der Sar, Manchester United.

Manchester United’s struggle to fill the void left by Peter Schmeichel’s departure ended in 2005 when the giant Dutchman was brought in from Fulham to provide stability to an error-prone United defence. Van der Sar had already scooped major honours with former club Ajax whom he won the Uefa Cup and Champions League with as well as four league titles. Having moved to Juventus, Gianluigi Buffon’s record-breaking signing meant the Dutchman had to look elsewhere for guaranteed first team football and Fulham pulled off a coup when they brought him to Craven Cottage in 2001. While establishing himself as a terrific Premiersip keeper there, it became clear when he signed for United that Alex Ferguson had brought in a hugely reliable keeper and Van der Sar proved it when he was named in the PFA Premiership Team of the year last year as United marched their way to the Premiersip title. Having won the Carling Cup the previous season, Van der Sar added the league to his collection with a number of match-winning performances, including the vital penalty save from Darius Vassell in the Manchester Derby which set United on their way to reclaiming the title. His abilities are numerous, but it is perhaps his presence alone which is of greatest benefit to United. At 6″5, Van der Sar rarely goes missing in the penalty area but has still shown an amazing ability to get down quickly and pull of terrific reflex saves. His distribution of the ball is also impressive and aids United’s quick counter-attacking style when Ronaldo and Rooney can receive the ball so quickly and turn defensive situations to their advantage. However a number of blunders in games late on in the previous season have led many to believe he will be replaced as numbr one by Ben Foster this coming season. Still, taking those mistakes into consideration, Van der Sar is well worthy of second place on this list.

(1) : Petr Cech, Chelsea.

Yep, fairly obvious numer one despite the top five being much harder to call then first expected. Cech is simply outstanding. 100% focussed, terrific shot-stopper, good in the air, good distribution, terrific reflexes, the Czech International never knows when he is beaten and few rival fans will begrudge him being described as the best keeperin the Premiership since his arrival from Rennes three seasons ago. Cech has kept Carlo Cudicini to a minimal role at the club since his arrival, some achievement given that Cudicini would walk into most Premiership teams. Rival keepers such as Real Madrid’s Iker Casillas have described him as being as close to perfect as you can get. A huge presence for club and country, a serious injury last year ruled him out for three months and Chelsea suffered as a result. That he is back speaks volumes for his commitment to football and his team. Named in the all-star squad for the 2004 European Championships, the Czech Republic are significantly impeded when he is not in the lineup and are lucky to have one of the best keepers in the world today. Cech broke numerous records in his first season at Chelsea: fewest goals conceded, most clean sheets, longest run without conceding a goal at 1,024 minutes. Back to back Premiership titles as well as an FA Cup and Carling Cup winner, Cech has claimed his place as the number one keeper around and continues to amaze with his reflexes in goal. Opposition teams complain that it takes something truly special to beat the Czech and Chelsea have conceded just 61 Premiership goals in the three seasons Cech has been at the club with more coming last season during his lengthy lay-off than the previous two seasons. An outstanding competitor with the ability to be Chelsea’s number one for the next decade at least as he is still only 25!

Disagree?? Friedel, Jaaskelainen, Howard should have been in there? David James in the top 5? Feel free to comment…..

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  1. MB
    June 27, 2007 at 3:01 am

    Nice list and analysis. Mostly agree.

    Follow the Top 4 Premiership clubs at

  2. Donnnn
    July 25, 2007 at 3:29 am

    I hear that brother!

  3. November 23, 2007 at 11:14 pm

    Great list but Jose Reina really should be higher.
    He’s my number one and not just because I’m a
    Liverpool fan 😉 Respect Shay Given and Petr Cech.

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