Manchester United stopper tops RealSport’s Premier League top 5 Goalkeepers list
For all the goalscoring prowess of Mo Salah and Harry Kane, the 2017/18 season was not without its share of good goalkeeping. We look at the year’s top five stoppers.
We all love that moment when the ball nestles into the net. The second of silence that is met with either jubilation or a groan of despair.
But sometimes, it is just as spectacular to see a goalkeeper claw a surefire goal away. Here is the list of the top 5 goalies from this past Premier League season.
David de Gea
Were the Premier League ever to endure an exodus of its striking talents, David de Gea might finally be awarded a player of the year gong.
Such is the life of a goalkeeper; De Gea has consistently been the league’s best goalkeeper but, able only to stop goals and not score them, individual accolades continue to elude him.
Manchester United enjoyed their highest league finish since Sir Alex Ferguson’s departure five years ago, and much credit must go to their Spanish stopper.
De Gea continues to wow on an almost weekly basis, from lunging saves with his legs at Anfield to a frankly ridiculous performance at The Emirates against Arsenal. In the latter, the Gunners managed 33 shots on goal and still lost the contest 3-1, so supreme was De Gea.
Jose Mourinho has endured much criticism for a perceived inability to extract maximum entertainment from his star players, but one area never lacking for that is in goal.
De Gea’s athleticism is almost unrivalled, his technique of watching opposing strikers as crosses come in, as opposed to watching the ball itself, just one of a myriad of methods he has devised that give him the edge in the many contests that come his way.
Just 27, he will be integral to United’s fortunes should they hope to wrest the title back from their “noisy neighbours”. Another summer of interest from Madrid surely awaits.
Much mocking was made of Pep Guardiola’s attempts to implement a passing game at Manchester City last season. No more.
This term at The Etihad has told us plenty about the City manager, but what has become clear is that such a ploy was not wrongheaded, rather the personnel he utilised to execute it was.
Where Claudio Bravo failed, Ederson has excelled. Some wondered whether making the former Benfica man the most expensive goalkeeper of all time was an unwise choice; no one wonders now.
The Brazilian has been exceptional, to the point where his mistakes, so few have they been, stand out more than his unending successes.
Though considerably less busy than many of his counterparts, the City stopper has remained focused throughout, producing outrageous stops when called upon, nowhere more memorably than when diverting a ball away from the top corner at Burnley.
Yet his most powerful and effective tool has arrived via his feet, with a passing range and composure that wouldn’t look out-of-place in central midfield.
His skillset allows his side to build from the back, effectively deploying 11 outfielders when in possession. Perhaps no signing this season transformed a side as positively as this one.
Nick Pope’s rise has been a quiet one. Signed from Charlton Athletic upon Burnley’s promotion back to the Premier League in 2016, the 26-year-old did not even make a league appearance for the Clarets until September of this season.
Since then, he hasn’t missed a beat, literally. After replacing the injured Tom Heaton during a 1-0 win over Crystal Palace, Pope didn’t miss a single minute of league football.
35 appearances brought with them 12 clean sheets, as Pope formed the last line of a defence which conceded only 39 goals all season, the sixth-best record in the division and only one goal behind both Liverpool and Chelsea.
The stopper has formed a pivotal part of Sean Dyche’s side, his performances helping guide Burnley to a wholly unexpected seventh-placed finish.
Pope’s competence between the sticks has been unflashy but effective, much like the rest of this Burnley side. Now Gareth Southgate and England have come calling, presenting Pope with an unlikely trip to this summer’s World Cup.
Quite the achievement for a man who, the last time the Three Lions visited football’s biggest tournament, was plying his trade for York City in League Two.
Sometimes, statistics don’t tell the whole story. In 69 Premier League games across two seasons, Jordan Pickford has conceded 114 games, not far shy of two a game. In that same period, he has mustered just 14 clean sheets.
Yet Pickford won Sunderland’s Young Player of the Season award last year, and this time around, picked up not only that for Everton but also the Player’s Player and overall Player of the Season awards too. That he did so between the sticks for a side that conceded 58 goals speaks volumes.
Pickford’s distribution may have been overshadowed by the arrival of Ederson this season, but it remains a potent weapon in his arsenal, one which the Toffees will surely look to use more in coming years.
His presence belies his young age, and he continually pulls off stops that most can only marvel out. He remains raw, but he has already firmly established himself as one of the best keepers in the division.
Choosing a man who didn’t even become a Premier League player until the final day of January might seem odd, but it only serves to underline how important Dubravka was to Newcastle United’s survival cause.
After a protracted chase, Rafa Benitez finally got his man on deadline day, albeit only on a loan deal, with the Magpies manager surmising that Rob Elliot’s fitness could not be relied upon and Karl Darlow was too green for a relegation battle.
The Spaniard’s judgment proved correct. Dubravka, an unknown quantity on English shores, took to the division like a duck to water. By the season’s end, he had four clean sheets from 12 games, just one shy of what his competitors had managed in 26.
Never was he more impressive than in his debut, a crucial 1-0 victory over Manchester United that kicked the survival bid into gear.
One misjudged cross against Watford aside, Dubravka scarcely put a foot, or hand, wrong. Little wonder that the club is seeking to make his transfer permanent as soon as possible.
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