A decade ago Manchester United were English football’s first among equals with Sir Alex Ferguson’s men chasing a fourth successive Premier League crown.
They would ultimately fall short by a single point as Chelsea, under Carlo Ancelotti, secured a first league title post-Jose Mourinho.
You couldn’t fault their Dutch goalkeeper Edwin van der Sar, who did his job, keeping no fewer than 12 clean sheets. But the season before, as United claimed a second-ever Premier League three-peat, he was at his undoubted best.
Of the 21 shutouts he kept that season 14 of those, between November 2008 and March 2009, came on the bounce. An unprecedented feat which hasn’t been threatened since. It’s also a reminder that defending is very much part of this game even if goalscoring brings eyes to the product.
With that being said, Van der Sar is the gold standard for Premier League ‘keepers to chase, who wouldn’t want to lay claim to breaking such a record. If we are being honest, it’s going to take a special goalie and unit in front of him, because the number 14 isn’t a fluke.
Subscribe to Squawka’s Youtube channel here.
United’s very own Flying Dutchman himself surpassed Petr Čech — who grew up idolising Van der Sar — after the Czech shot-stopper posted 10 clean sheets in a row for Chelsea during their title-winning 2004/05 season. The Blues and Man Utd, of every current Premier League side, are the only teams to reach double figures in this regard.
Arsenal, with their famous back five, came agonisingly close in Arsene Wenger’s first double-winning season. They registered eight consecutive clean sheets; matching Liverpool’s best which came all the way back in 1922/93, though the Reds would equal that in Rafael Benitez’s second campaign.
As for Man City, it’s no surprise their own record took place in the last decade as they gradually replaced United as top dog, on two separate occasions City put six clean sheets back-to-back. As impressive as that may sound, there are three other teams who have posted better, but the question is will Van der Sar’s and United’s record fall?