The life of a Premier League back-up goalkeeper is a strange one. They spend most of their time on the bench, but at the drop of a hat, they can be thrown into some of world football’s most high-profile matches.
This is particularly the case among those at the ‘Big Six’. But being the second-choice goalkeeper for a team competing in Europe doesn’t automatically mean said players are better than those providing back-up in the lower reaches of the Premier League.
Of course, the biggest clubs are able to attract high-quality No. 2 goalkeepers. The cream mostly rises to the top, but the clubs further down the English top-flight also possess some very capable names between the sticks.
20. Simon Moore – Sheffield United
Moore is yet to make a Premier League appearance, instead opting to be a reserve goalkeeper with Cardiff over the last few years before aiding Sheffield United’s promotion from League One in 2017. Dean Henderson now keeps him out of the team.
19. Jed Steer – Aston Villa
Steer returned from a loan spell with League One side Charlton last season to help Aston Villa achieve promotion to the Premier League via the Championship play-offs. However, Villa have signed Tom Heaton as their new number one.
18. David Button – Brighton
After two impressive seasons with Brentford in the Championship, Button was snapped up by Fulham but was eventually displaced at Craven Cottage. He then took up the role as Matthew Ryan’s deputy at Brighton but hasn’t really been given the chance to prove he is of Premier League quality.
17. Artur Boruc – Bournemouth
Boruc was Bournemouth’s first-choice goalkeeper for two seasons before Eddie Howe brought in Asmir Begovic. Subsequently, Boruc has struggled to displace his colleague, although he did make 12 Premier League appearances last term.
16. Ralf Fahrmann – Norwich
Norwich manager Daniel Farke looked to his homeland in his search for a new back-up goalkeeper. Fahrmann, who has joined on loan from Schalke, will provide back-up for Tim Krul but, if he gets chances to play, he may impress enough to earn a permanent transfer.
15. Karl Darlow – Newcastle
Once considered Newcastle’s future No.1, Darlow’s form soon fell off and he was replaced by Martin Dubravka. Darlow could get more minutes this season as Dubravka’s long-term future looks uncertain following the exit of Rafael Benitez.
14. Roberto – West Ham
West Ham signed two 33-year-old goalkeepers for nothing this summer. Roberto has been picked ahead of David Martin in pre-season while the excellent Lukasz Fabianksi has been injured. It will be up to the Spaniard to stay ahead of Martin in the pecking order.
13. John Ruddy – Wolves
Ruddy suffered the all too well-known fate of helping a team reach the Premier League only to be dropped for a more established goalkeeper. Portugal stopper Rui Patricio is clearly Wolves’ first-choice, but Ruddy is a decent stand-in when needed.
12. Wayne Hennessey – Crystal Palace
Hennessey endured a turbulent 2018/19 season on and off the pitch, losing his place in the team to Vicente Guaita. He remains Wales’ No.1, though, and is unlikely to lay down in the battle to win back his spot in Roy Hodgson’s line-up.
11. Joe Hart – Burnley
A Premier League winner and former England No. 1, Joe Hart’s career has taken a huge down-turn over the last few years. He started last season as Sean Dyche’s first-choice goalkeeper at Burnley but the returning Nick Pope and Tom Heaton soon displaced him. Heaton’s exit means he is now second in command behind Pope.
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10. Danny Ward – Leicester
Ward was unable to find a way out of Liverpool after a stellar loan spell at Huddersfield in 2016/17. He bided he time at Anfield and eventually moved to Leicester, but Kaspar Schmeichel remains top dog at the King Power Stadium with Ward hardly getting a look-in in the Premier League.
9. Heurelho Gomes – Watford
Ben Foster was mostly brilliant for Watford last season, but Gomes was the Hornets’ hero in their FA Cup run – despite conceding six goals against a relentless Manchester City in the final. The former Spurs goalkeeper isn’t as error-prone as he once was, which is perhaps a result of playing fewer games.
8. Adrian – Liverpool
With Simon Mignolet returning to Belgium, Liverpool were suddenly in need of a new deputy for Alisson Becker. They moved quickly to bring in free agent Adrian, who left West Ham in June after his contract expired. His performances over the last three seasons haven’t exactly been inspiring, but Jurgen Klopp clearly believes he can replicate his form of old when necessary.
7. Willy Caballero – Chelsea
Renowned for his penalty-stopping expertise more than anything, Willy Caballero is nonetheless a capable all-round goalkeeper, if a little rough around the edges. The 37-year-old has played 22 times for the Blues across his two years at Stamford Bridge and his experience has been useful.
6. Alex McCarthy – Southampton
Liverpool were also linked with McCarthy as a possible replacement for Mignolet, which is testament to his reputation. The former Reading goalkeeper became Southampton’s No.1 last term but then lost his place to Angus Gunn. With Fraser Forster still at the club, too, it’s unclear who, if anyone, is first-choice at St Mary’s. Perhaps McCarthy will retain the title this season.
5. Emiliano Martinez – Arsenal
Repeatedly loaned out in recent years, Emiliano Martinez finally has the chance to play a role at Arsenal this season. A string of top saves helped Reading stay in the Championship last term and he will now be called upon in the domestic cups and Europa League for the Gunners. It will be a big test but Martinez could end up saving Arsenal plenty of money that would have gone on yet another goalkeeper.
4. Jonas Lossl – Everton
He may have been part of the second-worst defence in the Premier League with Huddersfield last season, but Lossl played a key role in keeping the Terriers up the year before with some fine saves and was only dropped last term because of questions marks over his future. The Dane let his contract run down and jumped at the chance to join Everton, where he will provide back-up for Jordan Pickford – an astute addition by the Toffees.
3. Claudio Bravo – Man City
Heavily criticised during his first season in England, Claudio Bravo remains an athletic, accomplished option to provide back-up for Ederson at the Etihad. The 36-year-old is still in good shape, as proven by his leaping save to deny Georginio Wijnaldum from the spot in the Community Shield final. He is also capable with his feet, which is the basis of a Pep Guardiola side.
2. Paulo Gazzaniga – Tottenham
Having grown up in the same Argentine village as Mauricio Pochettino, Paulo Gazzaniga has been trusted by his manager at Tottenham to stand in for Hugo Lloris when necessary. Gazzaniga was originally signed as a third-choice option but he outshone Michel Vorm to the point of overtaking the Dutchman last season. And with Lloris’ ongoing habit to make errors in big games, there have even been calls for Gazzaniga to start more regularly.
1. Sergio Romero – Man Utd
When David de Gea is injured or in need of a rest, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer must be delighted he is able to turn to Sergio Romero. One of four Argentinians on our list – there must be something in the goalkeeper’s water over there – Romero has been praised for his composure between the sticks. If De Gea doesn’t cut out the mistakes that plagued him during the second half of last season, we may be seeing more of Romero in the coming months.