Sir Alex Ferguson famously said that while goals win games, defences win titles, so it stands to reason that the sides with the most clean sheets are well set for success.
Take leaders Manchester City, for instance, a side who are renowned for their free-flowing, attacking approach, yet their title charge is mainly the result of keeping things tight at the back, the signing of Ruben Dias having been vital to their improved defensive showings.
With games coming thick and fast, City – and others – have understood that playing aggressive, attacking football is simply not a sustainable approach, the switch to a slightly more pragmatic style paying dividends for both Pep Guardiola’s side as well as the likes of Chelsea and Aston Villa.
While the team shape is largely to thank for that newfound defensive resilience, it’s also pretty crucial to have the right man in between the sticks to make the vital saves at the critical moments.
Here’s a look then at the six goalkeepers with the most Premier League clean sheets so far this season:
Rui Patricio – 10
It’s been a fairly underwhelming season as a whole this season for Wolves, yet the Portugal international has remained in solid form nonetheless, his ten clean sheets proving vital for a side that have found goals hard to come by in the absence of forward, Raul Jimenez.
After finishing seventh last season to narrowly miss out on back-to-back European qualification, Nuno Espirito Santo’s side are currently languishing in 12th, in what is their quietest season since their return to the top-flight back in 2019.
That being said, the way they have taken to Premier League football so comfortably in recent seasons has been mightily impressive, their recruitment of a host of exciting and experienced European talent helping make the transition to the top tier much easier.
Big save from Rui Patricio! 🧤
Enda Stevens sets himself up with a lovely first touch but Wolves' 'keeper is equal to the shot! ⛔
— Sky Sports Premier League (@SkySportsPL) April 17, 2021
While it’s been the likes of Ruben Neves and Joao Moutinho who often catch the eye, their compatriot Patricio has been an equally consistent addition, the European Championship-winning stopper having kept 30 clean sheets across the last three seasons combined.
The 33-year-old must go down as one of the league’s most astute signings, having joined the club on a free transfer back in 2018, after terminating his contract at former club Sporting Lisbon.
Kasper Schmeichel – 10
The Danish international is one of just handful of Leicester’s 2015/16 title-winning heroes that still ply their trade at the King Power Stadium and remains an invaluable asset to Brendan Rodgers’ side, not only as a leader but also as an outstanding goalkeeper.
The 34-year-old is currently enjoying his tenth season with the Foxes, having originally joined the club from Leeds United back in 2011, following previous spells with Notts County and Manchester City, the latter for whom he spent time out on-loan at six different clubs.
While inevitably struggling to escape his father’s shadow in his early career, the stopper has managed to forge a hugely successful playing journey since, navigating his way through the lower divisions before solidifying his status as one of the Premier League’s most consistent stoppers in recent times.
Schmeichel currently sits on 74 clean sheets in his top-flight career, with 15 of those having come during that miraculous title win a few years ago, despite having failed to register a shutout in their opening nine games of the campaign.
While a title is out of reach this season, the Foxes are looking to secure a top-four finish and a place in next season’s Champions League, after having suffered an end-of-season collapse to throw a way a place in the top-four last term.
Hugo Lloris – 10
The Frenchman has been at the centre of speculation regarding his future at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium, with rumours of a possible reunion with Mauricio Pochettino at Paris Saint-Germain, yet he remains the club’s undisputed number one nonetheless.
The Spurs skipper – who’s been at the club since arriving from Lyon in 2012 – has been in fine form of late, producing a stunning double save to deny Southampton’s Che Adams, during his side’s 2-1 win over the Saints on Wednesday night.
Hugo Lloris. Wow. 😱pic.twitter.com/08k9vYe7qi
— 90min (@90min_Football) April 21, 2021
That victory was the first in Ryan Mason’s interim spell in the charge, the 29-year-old becoming the youngest ever manager in Premier League history, following the sacking of Jose Mourinho on Monday.
Mourinho’s departure came amid a poor run of results for the north London club that has left them with a real uphill battle to secure Champions League football for next season, while they also slipped to an embarrassing exit at the hands of Dinamo Zagreb in the Europa League, with Lloris providing a fairly damning assessment of his side’s performance after that 3-0 loss in Croatia.
Although it would appear is all not quite right at Spurs, they do have the chance to lift a first trophy in 13 years on Sunday in the Carabao Cup final against Manchester City, the 34-year-old with the chance to potentially end his Tottenham career on a high.
Edouard Mendy – 14
Football often provides plenty of joyous rags to riches stories, yet few can be quite as dramatic as that of Mendy, the Senegal international having gone from relative unknown to one of Europe’s most highly-rated goalkeepers in double-quick time.
The former Marseille man didn’t sign his first professional contract in football until past his 24th birthday, yet five years later he is now seemingly the undisputed number one at Champions League semi-finalists, Chelsea.
Having impressed at Ligue 1 side Reims in recent seasons, including recording 18 clean sheets in just 34 games in the 2017/18 campaign, Mendy then moved to Rennes in 2019, before making the move to Stamford Bridge just a year later for a fee of around £22m.
Since then, the 29-year-old has been in superb form, keeping 14 clean sheets in just 26 league games for the Blues, conceding just 22 league goals in that time, with the arrival of Thomas Tuchel providing the team with a real stubborn defensive approach after having looked far too shaky at times under Frank Lampard.
With an FA Cup final and a Champions League semi-final still to come this season, Mendy’s meteoric rise to the top of European football looks set to continue.
Emi Martinez – 14
Another man enjoying the form of his life is Emi Martinez, the Argentine having gone from long-serving number two at Arsenal, to one of the league’s most in-form stoppers at Aston Villa.
After joining the Gunners in 2012, Martinez was restricted to just 15 Premier League appearances across the next eight years, spending much of that time out on loan in the lower divisions of English football, as well as a solitary season with Getafe in 2018/19.
Out of those 15 top-flight games for the club, nine of those came at the back end of last season, the usual understudy making the most of a rare chance in the first-team following an injury to Bernd Leno and going on to play a vital role in helping the Gunners to a record-extending 14th FA Cup triumph.
While his stint in the starting XI was relatively brief, he seemingly did enough to impress, earning a move to Villa in the summer for a fee of around £20m, where he has since played a crucial role in the marked improvement that Dean Smith’s side have made this season.
As the club’s undisputed number one, the 28-year-old has thrived, keeping 14 clean sheets in the league – including two against the Gunners – while he’s also made 114 saves, the fourth-most in the league so far.
Ederson – 17
Perhaps unsurprisingly though given their position at the top of the league, Man City‘s Ederson is the man on course to claim the Golden Glove, the Premier League leaders having been superb defensively thus far this season, the partnership of John Stones and Ruben Dias, in particular, having been crucial to that improved solidity.
Such a strong backline, coupled with City’s usual possession dominance, has often left the 27-year-old without little to do in regards of actual goalkeeping, the former Benfica man having made just 54 saves in the league so far this term, with only regular stoppers Edouard Mendy and Robert Sanchez having made fewer.
While he hasn’t had too much to do at times, in fairness, the City stopper has very rarely let anything get past him, having conceded just 23 goals in the league this season.
— City Xtra (@City_Xtra) April 21, 2021
That means he has now let in just 100 league goals across his four seasons in English football, while he’s also kept 69 clean sheets in that time, including a hugely impressive 20 shutouts during the 2018/19 campaign.
Having finished at the top of the clean sheet charts last season with 16, Ederson looks on course to once again finish top of the pile come the end of the current campaign, although Petr Cech’s all-time record of 24 clean sheets in a single season still alludes him.