Gordon, Szczesny, Schmeichel or Hart: Who has made the greatest save in Premier League history?
Over the past few weeks we have been celebrating all that's great about the Premier League, as the world's most watched league marks its 20th anniversary. We've picked our ultimate Premier League team and we've looked at the greatest goals ever scored, but this week we're turning our attention to the goalkeepers.
Although the Premier League is famous for the amount of goals scored, the goalkeepers are no slouches. In fact, they have pulled off some of the most amazing saves ever seen.
Steve Coulter has been looking back into the archives for some of the best acts of heroics by goalkeepers in the top flight and he has narrowed his search down to four. We'd love to know what you rate as the greatest Premier League save of all time.
CRAIG GORDON SUNDERLAND V Bolton 2010
Who says Scottish goalkeepers are rubbish? The Stadium of Light faithful may beg to different.
Craig Gordon joined Sunderland from Hearts in 2007. The £9 million fee made him Britain’s most expensive goalkeeper and a string of excellent performance soon justified the Black Cats' faith.
His save against Bolton was one of last season's highlights. Trailing 1-0, Owen Coyle’s men were awarded a corner. Matt Taylor’s outswinger found Gary Cahill at the far post, the big centre half headed back across goal and fellow defender Zat Knight met the knock down with a perfectly executed volley. With Knight only two yards out the outcome appeared inevitable, but Gordon hadn‘t read the script. The Scot threw himself full length and managed to divert the ball over the bar.
The save brought comparisons with Jim Montgomery’s double save in the 1973 FA Cup Final. Like Gordon, Monty’s heroics earned Sunderland a 1-0 win. Sadly Craig Gordon has since suffered a serious injury. A long-standing problem has sidelined him for over a year.
WOJCIECH SZCZESNY ARSENAL V Liverpool 2012
A few years ago I was talking to a mate who is a massive Arsenal fan. At the time the Gunners were struggling in the goalkeeping department. The glory days of David Seaman and Jens Lehman were a distant memory.
The Emirates crowd were becoming accustomed to the error plagued displays of Manuel Almunia and Lukasz Fabianski. My friend could see hope on the horizon. "Don’t worry, we’ve got a great young keeper on loan at Brentford,” he reassured me. Well, Loz the Gooner was certainly ahead of the game. The young keeper in question was Wojciech Szczesny.
After more clangers from his hapless duo, Arsesne Wenger decided to give the Pole his chance. His Premier League debut can best be described as a baptism of fire. In December 2010, the custodian made his bow against Manchester United at Old Trafford.
Szczesny gave a good account of himself and became a regular fixture in the starting line up. Like all young players Sczesny suffered the occasional setback. His mix up with Laurent Koscielny allowed Birmingham City’s Obefami Martins to score a last minute winner in the 2011 Carling Cup Final.
Wenger accepted the error as part of Szczesny’s learning curve. His faith in youth has been repaid this season. The Arsenal number one was in magnificent form during the recent trip to Anfield. After been adjudged to have brought down Luis Suarez, the keeper faced up to Dirk Kuyt’s penalty. Szczesny correctly anticipated the strike when he dived to his right, however he could only parry the ball back into play.
Kuyt reached the rebound and his scuffed follow up appeared goal bound. In a split second the keeper leapt from his prone position and dived to tip the ball past his left hand post.
Arsenal went on to win the game through a late Robin Van Persie goal, but RVP was happy to share the headlines with the man between the sticks.
PETER SCHMEICHEL MANCHESTER UNITED V Newcastle United 1996
At his peak Peter Schmeichel was the greatest goalkeeper in the world. Like all legends he stepped up to the plate when it really mattered. Newcastle United fans will certainly verify my claim.
By the spring of 1996 Kevin Keegan’s runaway leaders were slowly been reeled in by Manchester United. The Toon’s 12 point lead had almost evaporated when Fergie and co visited St James' Park.
The game was billed as a title decider and Newcastle were up for the challenge. Few would dispute that the Geordies were the better side. They pummelled the United goal and a breakthrough appeared a formality. But Peter Schmeichel had other ideas. The blonde keeper defied Newcastle with a string of fine stops. His finest moment occurred when he foiled Les Ferdinand.
Sir Les entered the penalty area and held off a defender's challenge. He then unleashed a blistering drive which seemed destined for the net. From nowhere the Dane uncoils his enormous frame and fists the ball to safety.
To rub salt into the wounds, Eric Cantona scored a second winner for the Red Devils. Both moments were pivotal in a gripping title race. Manchester United went on to overhaul Newcastle and clinch the title.
JOE HART MANCHESTER CITY V Tottenham Hotspur 2010
This game will be remembered as the day Joe Hart came of age. After an impressive loan period at Birmingham City, Hart returned to the City fold.
His St Andrews' heroics had made one of the country’s brightest prospects. He was overlooked by England at the 2010 World Cup. Hart had to be content with a place on the bench as Robert Green and David James were given the nod.
The blonde custodian faced another challenge at City. Shay Given was Roberto Mancini’s preferred choice between the sticks. Could Hart unseat the excellent Given?
The moment of truth came as City visited White Hart Lane. An expectant crowd was eagerly anticipating the opening game of the season. Mancini had more pressing concerns as kick off approached.
The Italian decided to plump for the younger man, Joe Hart was firmly in the spotlight. He responded with a virtuoso performance. On numerous occasions the Spurs strikers were thwarted by Hart’s interventions.
Benoit Assou-Ekotto must still be wondering how he failed to beat Hart. With the pressure mounting the defender decided to try his luck. A tame City clearance found loitering Ekotte thirty yards out. The Spurs player did not hesitate and let fly. The shell of a shot took a deflection off a City defender and was heading for the top corner.
The airborne Hart timed his dive perfectly and palmed the ball away. A star was born.
So there's Steve's four top saves to choose from, but if there's one that he's missed out, don't be shy, share it with us. We'd love to hear from you.