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The FA Cup Fourth Round

Stats say Begovic is PL's top stopper

Asmir Begovic, Wojciech Szczesny, Tim Howard, Brad Guzan and Simon Mignolet are the top five goalkeepers in the Premier League, say WhoScored.

Last Updated: 18/12/13 at 10:50 Post Comment

Asmir Begovic: Statistically the Premier League's best

Asmir Begovic: Statistically the Premier League's best

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Such has been the varying form of so many of the Premier League's goalkeepers, the coveted No. 1 jersey in WhoScored.com's Premier League team of the season has chopped and changed between no fewer than five different stoppers already this campaign.

Unfortunately for most, inconsistency has been the name of the game this season.

The likes of Petr Cech, Joe Hart and Hugo Lloris have built reputations as top-class Premier League goalkeepers but by their standards his season has undeniably been below par.

In a recent run of three games against Southampton, Sunderland and Stoke, Cech faced seven shots on target and was beaten by each attempt. Even against Palace at the weekend, he didn't look back to his usual, calm self, with Marouane Chamakh putting a fairly tame effort past him.

He has already made as many or more errors that have led to an opposition goal this season (2) than he did in any of his previous three campaigns.

Hart's gaffes have seen him dropped for Costel Pantilimon at City, while the 15 goals Hugo Lloris has shipped in the last five Premier League games have seen him drop and way down to ninth in WhoScored's goalkeeper rankings.

He too has made more goal-inducing errors this season (2) than he did in the whole of any of his last three seasons. The Frenchman's forays off his line to sweep up behind the defence have gone from necessary to unreliable, and what was a sturdy Spurs defence suddenly looks frail and unconvincing.

David De Gea, meanwhile, has improved in terms of confidence this season, but still remains somewhat shaky. His distribution is amongst the best in the league, while his reflexes are also paramount to a Manchester United team that have allowed opponents 12.1 shots per game this season, but having caught only 11 crosses in 16 appearances this season, it is clear where the problems still lie.

Simon Mignolet has had a decent start to life at Liverpool, and is currently the fifth-best-rated goalkeeper in the Premier League (6.96).

He too, however, has shown a lack of consistency this season, with particularly poor performances in the draw at Newcastle and loss at Hull standing out.

His shot-stopping is up there with the very best - his saves-to-shots-on-target-faced ratio of 76.7% is the best in the Premier League - but his reluctancy to come off his line is sometimes exposed.

Nine of the 18 goals he has conceded this season (50%) have come from crosses, and his 12 cross-claims is higher only than De Gea and Allan McGregor (8) of Premier League regulars.

Just ahead of Mignolet in the WhoScored rankings in Aston Villa's Brad Guzan (7.05), whose good work has gone a long way to his team boasting the second best defensive record in away games in the Premier League this season (nine goals conceded).

Having saved 69.0% of the shots on target he has been dealt, he is only just above average in this sense, but his imposing figure gives him the confidence to come out and dominate his area. He has successfully claimed an incredible 48 crosses this season, a tally 16 greater than any other player in England's top tier.

Only marginally ahead is Guzan's compatriot Tim Howard (7.05) who leads the Premier League for clean sheets, with his impressive Everton side building the foundations of what looks like it may be a fruitful season on a solid defence.

He has already made 44 saves this season, including a league-high two penalty saves (though one did rebound off the post then him and into the goal), and even has an assist to his name.

After a spell at Manchester United where he became the latest to try and fail to fill the boots of Peter Schmeichel, Howard has established himself as one of the best goalkeepers in the Premier League.

Wojciech Szczesny lost his spot in the team of the season this weekend after he conceded six goals, saved only one shot, gave away a penalty and was booked in defeat at Manchester City at the weekend.

The Pole had shown signs of finally becoming the dependable stopper than Arsenal hoped he will be, but at the Etihad he displayed the dark side that remains. That performance saw his save success rate drop from an incredibly impressive 80% to a mid-range 73.1%, and fans of the Gunners will be praying that his confidence isn't shaken, with a tough Christmas period coming up where their title credentials will again be tested.

Top of the charts, though, is the keeper that continues to ply his trade in mid-table and yet be consistently linked with moves to the league's upper echelons.

Asmir Begovic currently holds the spot in goal in the WhoScored team of the season with a rating of 7.07 just superior to the chasing pack.

He has so far this season saved 73.4% of the shots he has faced (fifth-best in the Premier League), claimed 32 crosses (second best) and kept six clean sheets (fourth best).

Mark Hughes has got him playing fewer of his passes long (6.6 per game compared to 8.4 and 10 in previous campaigns), and his pass success rate has increased (58.6%) as a result.

He seems to be continuing to mould into the all-round stopper that, possibly, the bigger clubs will once again come in for in the summer.

That so little separates the best of the goalkeepers only serves to highlight the inconsistencies that remain throughout the top stoppers. With the Premier League title race hotting up, performances - either good or bad - could make a huge difference come May.

Alistair Tweedale - follow him on Twitter here

All statistics courtesy of WhoScored.com, where you can find yet more stats, including live in-game data and unique player and team ratings.

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