Ranked! The (genuinely surprising) top 20 Premier League goalkeepers by their clean sheet ratio
Do you ever wonder where your club’s goalkeepers rank among the Premier League greats and not-so-greats? No? Look, just work with us here.
We’ve calculated the clean-sheet ratio of every goalkeeper in the English top flight since 1992, their percentage showing how often they stopped the opposition from scoring in a match. The very best score between 33% and 50%, keeping a clean sheet every two or three games. Weirdly, that includes Fraser Forster and Joel Robles.
Setting a minimum of 50 appearances roots out the part-timers (your Ospinas, your Caballeros) and one-season wonders (Ederson’s time will come, and he wouldn't top this list anyway). But don’t worry: that doesn’t leave out anyone major – with apologies to Stuart Taylor – and it still gives us 106 goalkeepers to rank.
There are surprises. Forster and Joel sit just outside the top 20, while England No.1 Jordan Pickford is 98th out of 106, just below Boaz Myhill, and the once-brilliant Shay Given is as low as 67th. Rock-bottom, since you ask, is Kelvin Davis, who averaged a clean sheet every nine Premier League games for Sunderland and Southampton.
Here’s the top 20. First up: a name that, depending on your age, you might not expect, recall or even recognise...
20. Thomas Myhre (35.48%)
Appearances: 93 • Clean sheets: 33
At No.20 is one of very few players whose name is Kryptonite to FourFourTwo. We learned to spell Papastathopoulos and Blaszczykowski quickly enough. Myrhe? Wrong every time. Wait, not Myrhe – Mhyre. No, Myhre. Myhre. Damn it.
The stopper joined Everton in November 1997 to replace a 39-year-old Neville Southall and didn’t concede in his first three games – just as well, seeing as his team-mates scored only once in that time. He impressed for a season-and-a-half, becoming Norway’s No.1, before injury and incompetence pushed him into a vortex of loans. He did, though, make an unexpected return to Premier League teamsheets with Charlton in 2006, and played nearly 10 consecutive hours of league football at The Valley without conceding.
Oh me oh Myhre, Blouseas might have sung.
19. Hugo Lloris (35.89%)
Appearances: 209 • Clean sheets: 75
The Frenchman’s injury-enforced absence last weekend had disastrous consequences: his Spurs side were beaten by Watford, and Lloris lost the opportunity to move up to 18th in our clean-sheet rankings. Devastating.
Figuratively and literally, Lloris has been behind an improved Tottenham defence in recent years. London life started slowly, as Andre Villas-Boas made him wait to end Brad Friedel’s incredible record of 310 consecutive Premier League appearances, but since then Lloris has been a key figure and, now, captain. It’s so easy to forget that just seven weeks ago he made the biggest goalkeeping error in the history of World Cup finals.
18. Mark Bosnich (35.92%)
Appearances: 206 • Clean sheets: 74
Although Bosnich deserves contempt for his charades at White Hart Lane and attempts to explain them away, his inclusion in our countdown does at least suggest there was nothing faulty about his goalkeeping.
It’s perhaps a surprise to see him here, however. The Australian had his moments at Aston Villa but rarely exuded calm, and he would surely rank among the worst of Manchester United’s first-choice keepers over the past few decades (it’s incredible to think they won the title by 18 points in 1999/2000 when goalkeeping duties were shared by Bosnich, Massimo Taibi, Raimond van der Gouw and, for 80 seconds, Nick Culkin). Alex Ferguson, who signed Bosnich twice, even called him “a terrible professional”.
Still, numbers don’t lie.
17. Wojciech Szczesny (36.36%)
Appearances: 132 • Clean sheets: 48
That Szczesny is still only 28 reveals an early start. Three Premier League appearances, half a dozen cup games and a loan at third-tier Brentford amounted to the 20-year-old’s experience when Arsene Wenger declared in January 2011 that Szczesny was Arsenal’s first-choice goalkeeper. A week later, they’d infamously concede four goals in 20 minutes against Newcastle, though none of them were really his fault.
Wenger got stick for sticking by Szczesny, but the Pole’s performances were better than many made out, and in 2013/14 he shared the Golden Glove with Petr Cech (presumably they got one each). High-profile errors were the problem. The camel’s back finally broke on New Year’s Day, 2015: Szczesny was to blame for both goals in a 2-0 defeat to Southampton, drew much mockery for sipping casually from his sports bottle within a second of conceding, then collected a fine for having a crafty/soggy cigarette with his post-match shower.
That was Szczesny’s final Premier League appearance, although he returned to keep a clean sheet in the FA Cup final. Unfortunately for Wenger, the man he’d previously afforded so much patience subsequently shone at Roma and replaced the legendary Gigi Buffon at Juventus. Maybe Arsenal’s defenders were the problem all along.
16. Jens Lehmann (36.49%)
Appearances: 148 • Clean sheets: 54
It’s hard to follow a debut season in which you play every game of an unbeaten league campaign and keep the joint-most clean sheets in the division. True enough, Lehmann – 33 when he joined Arsenal – did falter after his involvement in the 2003/04 Invincibles team as his occasional madcap moments became more frequent. It culminated in his kamikaze charge and deliberate foul on Samuel Eto’o in the 2006 Champions League Final, which resulted in an early red card – the first in 51 years of European Cup finals.
Lehmann did, however, set a new Champions League record for consecutive clean sheets (10) and, in the Premier League, and conceded only 125 goals in 148 games. Leaking 0.84 goals per game is the second-best rate of anyone on this countdown, and means that even when he didn’t keep a clean sheet, he conceded a miserly 1.3 goals per game. The FFT electronic abacus informs us that’s pretty good.