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Coral’s five Premier League era game-changing goalies

Following strong reports that Chelsea and Czech Republic keeper Petr Cech is likely to move across London to link-up with English capital rivals Arsenal (5/1 to win the Premier League), Coral writers began thinking about the super stopper’s superb contributions during his time at Stamford Bridge.

The Czech custodian’s sublime one-handed save to stop a bullet Javier Hernandez header in an FA Cup quarter-final clash between the Blues (8/1 to win the Champions League) and Manchester United back in 2013 springs to mind, though despite being regularly overlooked in favour of Thibaut Courtois last season, the post protector still managed to deliver season-defining moments.

Soccer - Barclays Premier League - Chelsea v Arsenal - Stamford Bridge

Czech’s most notable, perhaps, was denying former Chelsea striker Romelu Lukaku with his leg to help the eventual Premier League champions to a crucial 1-0 win against Everton with just six games to go.

Chelsea skipper John Terry also recently highlighted Cech’s importance, and that of often overlooked position of custodian, stating: “There is obviously talk of Arsenal signing Petr and if they do…that will strengthen them for sure. He will save them 12 to 15 points a season.”

With that in mind, we bring you five more Premier League era game-changing goalies…

David de Gea (Manchester United)
He may be young but there is a reason that the Spanish stopper has been crowned Man Utd Player of the Season in two successive campaigns, and has giants Real Madrid chasing his signature.

An array of superb saves from the Atletico Madrid product helped United win, or avoid defeat, in vital games to clinch that coveted Champions League place last term, including a trio of top-draw stops against Everton and incredible reflexes to repeatedly shut out Liverpool’s Raheem Sterling and Mario Balotelli.

See De Gea keep out Everton:

Brad Friedel (Aston Villa, Blackburn Rovers, Liverpool and Tottenham)
Recently retired Friedel has a catalogue of cracking shut-outs over his long career, and was once famously compared to Superman by Gordon Strachan, who said, after the American keeper put in a sensational performance against his then Southampton side, that: “Friedel must have got changed in a telephone box. I wouldn’t be surprised if when he takes his shirt off there’s a blue jersey with an `S’ on underneath it.”

As the oldest ever player to appear in the Premier League, Friedel is surely one of the greatest and most underrated to have graced English shores, once notably saving a penalty just 10 minutes into his Villa debut against Reading in 2008.

Highlights of Friedel’s time with Tottenham:

David James (Aston Villa, Liverpool, Manchester City, Portsmouth and West Ham United)
Journeyman James is unfortunately remembered more for his fumbles and famous mistakes than the fact that he holds the record for most Premier League clean sheets.

So-called ‘Calamity James’ was just as able to pull-off the sublime, however, stepping up to save a penalty from Arsenal star Paul Merson in the midst of a mixed first season with Liverpool in 1993 and, later years, became somewhat of cult hero for Portsmouth, for whom he once racked up five games in a row without conceding.

View the best of David James:

Jens Lehmann (Arsenal)
Lehmann is often another easy target of mirth and jokes when it comes to goalkeepers, but it is worth remembering what a wall the German once was for the Gunners, appearing in all 38 Premier League outings in the famous 2003/04 ‘Invincibles’ season, his first in the English top tier, when Arsenal were unbeaten.

Although the controversial character tailed-off in later terms, he was still capable of the spectacular. Remember how he tipped away Man Utd marksman Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s 86th minute effort in 2006? The ‘Baby-faced Assassin’s’ expression says it all.

Lehmann in action for Arsenal:

Peter Schmeichel (Manchester United)
During his time at Old Trafford the Great Dane may as well have held up a sign saying ‘Thou shalt not pass!’, as Schmeichel was a true match-winner in net for the Red Devils. One of his most famous being to thwart then foes Newcastle United and John Barnes in 1998, amazingly stretching to push a headed ball around the post in a 1-0 victory. The lauded save was later voted Premier League Save of the Decade. Nice.

See Schmeichel deny Newcastle: