Ryan Butler’s Sporting Lists: Being More Than A Shotstopper

Over the opening weeks of the football season I have heard online and in person statements that make me question whether football fans actually know what it takes to be a good goalkeeper. In this day and age it takes more than being a “good shot stopper” to be a good goalkeeper. It frustrates me that people seem to consider some of these shocking goalkeepers in football today as “good” because they can make a save or two. In modern day football you need to have more than saving ability in order to be more than average.

Other than saving ability you need to have a high quality distribution, need to be able to claim balls in the box, in fact you need to be able to control your box. You need to be able to command your area and be one step ahead, after all you are the last line of defence. So I imagine you are sat there thinking well who would you describe as a good keeper? And that is why we are here, Ryan Butler’s Sporting Lists lives up to its reputation for delivering once again. So I will be listing right here, right now, the 5 best Premier League Goalkeepers, in order. So lets begin.

5) Tim Howard – Everton

The 36 year old American makes the list. Just. It was tight between him and Tottenham keeper Hugo Lloris for the credible 5th spot but I have gone for Howard for one reason. Lloris has a tendency to almost be a liability with his attacking goalkeeping style. He plays as a sweeper keeper in the same way Manuel Neuer does for Bayern Munich exception with one difference, Neuer is actually good at doing it on a consistent basis. In terms of Howard he is a reliable keeper. He isn’t afraid to throw himself around to try and get hands on the ball and protect his goal. His kicking and distribution are better than many of his counterparts and even boasts a goal (scored vs Bolton) to his name for his efforts.

It was a shame to see him underused at Manchester United and turfed out for Roy Carroll but his career has only benefited and his career in England prolonged after moving to be Everton’s number one keeper. He must be the first name on the team sheet despite Roberto Martinez’ knowledge and working relationship with Joel Robles quite simply, because he is that good and you know what you will get from him.

4) Joe Hart – Manchester City

This list gets harder and harder the further I move along it. The top 4 can literally come in any order. Hart is narrowly pushed down to 4th but this doesn’t take anything away from England and Man City’s number one. The amount of points over the last few seasons (especially their last title winning campaign) that Hart has won for City is astounding. He came under pressure at certain points especially during the Champions League campaigns, subsequently being dropped for a small period of time. But did he let it effect him? No, his performances didn’t suffer and he kept his head up, which to be honest is a great testament to the man.

His shot stopping, superb. His distribution, world class, I mean his throwing alone can be classed as an assist with the attacks he creates, especially with the high calibre of attacking players that City possess. The way in which he commands his box can be seen in every game he plays in. He isn’t afraid of turning around to his big scary captain and telling him to pull his finger out, he isn’t intimidated by the presence of a 6 ft plus striker jumping into him when a cross is swung in. I guess you can say compared to some keepers Hart is “head and shoulders” above the rest mamahaha.


Joe Hart is a pivotal player for Manchester City and England due to his ability


3) Petr Cech – Arsenal

Arsenal’s £10 million man takes a podium spot in this list because quite simply he has been one of the best goalkeepers the Premier League has ever seen. We were so lucky as a footballing community to have a Petr Cech in his prime and a world beating Edwin van Der Sar both playing at the same time. Cech would have come out with an even more glowing reputation had his infamous skull injury not kept him out for almost a whole season. A keeper whom Jose Mourinho described as a “10-12 points a season keeper” it is keepers like Cech who set the standard for those to follow. His left foot can almost be compared to a wand as he generates so much power on his follow through he can get the ball forward so quickly. He comes from everything (as seen vs West Ham) he doesn’t claim everything but his ratio is good enough to considered not just a good keeper but a world class goalkeeper.


2) Thibaut Courtois – Chelsea

It is Cech’s replacement at Chelsea who pips him into second. The big Belgian plays for the current Premier League champions as well as current world number two country in accordance to the FIFA rankings. After being on loan at Atletico Madrid for three seasons, three seasons which were the best seasons Atletico experienced in recent years. He was the catalyst for the Champions League final run in 2014 and impressed pretty much everyone who watched that game. Courtois has the ability to be one of the best goalkeepers the world has seen let alone the Premier League, almost destined to have a glittering career for both club and an ever improving international side.

In terms of ability I have seen Courtois catch crosses that he has no right to even attempt to catch and has even made a scrapbook worth of world class saves. His distribution is up there with the best and even at his tender age of 23 he commands a box with his physicality and with his communcation. A great keeper to watch and learn from if you are a young keeper.


1) David De Gea – Manchester United

This may be redundant within a matter of weeks but David De Gea is, screw it, David De Gea is the best keeper in the world right now. Better than Neuer. There I said it. His progression from the terrible beard, scrawny keeper that turned up at Old Trafford four years ago is a thing of the past. That guy doesn’t exist anymore. And the guy who has taken his place is a world beating keeper. Compare him one on one with every other keeper at the top of the sport right right and he beats them all for me. His shot stopping, at times freakish. His distribution, unbelievable. Almost van der Sar like (note; for me van Der Sar was the best distributor of a football I have ever seen, not because he played for United but because he was two footed and scarily accurate), De Gea has shaped into a man, a man who I would give anything to see stay at United but if he was to move on the world will always remember that he became the best keeper in the world in the Premier League, he toughened up playing English football. Something we can be proud of.

The Lord Saviour David De Gea’s save vs Everton last season is one of the best saves I have ever seen

Should he stay at Old Trafford he has the ability and skill to be one of those “10-12 points a season” keeper, in fact on reflection he was probably more than that over the last two years. Manchester United probably wouldn’t be in the Champions League this season were it not for him at times throughout the season. A remarkable keeper.

 And there we have it. Now for a real quicklist. The top 3 most overrated keepers in the Premier League right now.

3) Jack Butland (Stoke) …prove me wrong Jack. Good shot stopper, dime a dozen.
2) Brad Guzan (Aston Villa)…another good shot stopper. Kicks with his left foot like he isn’t left footed.
1) Simon Mignolet (Liverpool)…the typical good shot stopper but not a good keeper. Average.

Disagree? Tweet me @abaconButtee and tell me who you rate as the best keeper in the Premier League.

Ryan Butler