Who would have guessed that an undefeated Leicester City side would be sitting comfortably in second place after five games, or that reigning champions Chelsea would be struggling to stay out of the relegation zone?
It sounds like a scenario plucked straight out of a FIFA game, but that is the reality of the Premier League at the moment. What this highlights is just how much teams have strengthened across the board – there is never a weak link in the competition, and any side is fully capable of beating another.
While the saying goes that goals win games, stopping goals win games too, and many of the sides that are unexpectedly soaring this season have a top quality goalkeeper between the sticks to thank.
There are certainly plenty to choose from, but here are three Premier League goalkeepers that you should look out for this season:
Butland has been tipped to become a star Premier League keeper for a number of years, and following Asmir Begovic’s departure, the youngster has been given the chance to prove himself on the big stage.
While Stoke fans will be unhappy with the club’s early season struggles, it has provided Butland with plenty to do between the posts, and the 22-year-old has excelled in the role, pulling off a number of spectacular saves to keep the club’s margin of defeat to a minimum.
Stoke desperately need to turn things around, and the club will be praying that Butland keeps up his fine form. Although, with a place in Roy Hodgson’s Euro 2016 squad on offer, I would expect the developing keeper to be more than motivated to perform throughout the rest of the season.
Now entering his prime, Schmeichel is finally beginning to show signs of becoming a top goalie, after years of leaving fans wondering whether he would ever reach the heights of his father, Peter Schmeichel, who turned out for Manchester United throughout the 1990s.
It was always going to be a difficult task for the 28-year-old to replicate his father’s legacy, and while Leicester don’t come close to matching the stature of the Red Devils, it is clear to see what a vital cog he is in the Midlands club’s machine.
Leicester struggled throughout last season with the Danish shot-stopper out with a foot injury for a length period of time. Unsurprisingly, his return coincided with the club winning seven of their final ten games, which ultimately saved them from relegation, and it’s no coincidence that they have kept up their solid form this season with Schmeichel between the posts.
Confidence is a big factor in deciding the outcome of games, and the Leicester squad will have plenty of it at the moment. With the club well on their way to Premier League safety, Schmeichel can finally relax and set about showing everyone exactly what he is capable of.
Newcastle have had an extremely shaky start to the season, and currently find themselves at rock-bottom in the Premier League table, having lost three of their opening five games. Holland international Tim Krul has been a mainstay in the Geordie goal over the last few seasons, but he might find Darlow snapping at his heels if results don’t pick up soon.
After an impressive season on loan at Nottingham Forest last term, the 24-year-old was promoted to second-choice keeper this summer, and an impressive display in the 4-1 mauling of Northampton Town last month proved that he can certainly give Krul a tough time this season.
Darlow might not get too many opportunities to prove his worth over the course of the campaign, but with the rest of the Newcastle squad struggling to perform, a few good performances from the young Englishman could be more than enough to turn Steve McClaren’s head..