Ranking the EPL's top keepers

Joe Hart, Petr Cech among Premier League's best goalkeepers

Originally Published: August 16, 2012
By Albert Larcada | ESPN Insider
Joe HartAP Photo/Jon SuperJoe Hart helped lead Manchester City to its first EPL title in 2011-12.

Goalkeepers, much like quarterbacks in the NFL, are the leaders of their team's organization defensively (offensively in the quarterback's case). On set pieces, they are the ones making the calls, setting up the wall and ultimately taking responsibility for the positioning of their teammates.

However, like kickers or punters in the NFL, goalkeepers have a different skill set than their teammates. Besides the physical differences like the use of their hands, goalkeepers require a different mental makeup. Most have a well-earned reputation for being a bit off their rocker. As Arsenal's Wojciech Szczesny told Arsenal TV Online in 2010, "You need to be crazy [to become a goalkeeper]."

Here are the top five EPL goalies for 2012-13:

1. Joe Hart, Manchester City

City's No. 1 had arguably his best season to date in 2011-12. While leading City to its first Premier League title, Hart established himself as England's top goalkeeper, both by reputation and performance.

Swansea's Michel Vorm had the best save percentage on shots from 12 yards and in, but if you filter that down to only shots where the score differential was within one -- that is, the goalkeeper's team up by one goal, down by goal or tied -- then Hart is the clear crunch-time choice.

Not including penalty shots, he saved 70.4 percent such shots for City, nearly 4 percentage points higher than any other keeper. (The league average was 56 percent.) This shot chart shows just how active Hart had to be in tight quarters.

ESPN Stats & InformationShot chart for Joe Hart on shots from 12 yards and in during the 2011-12 EPL season. Red targets represent misses, while soccer balls represent goals.
Albert Larcada is an Analytics Specialist in ESPN's Stats & Information group. Among other analytics projects, he maintains, advances and writes about ESPN's Soccer Power Index (SPI) algorithm.