The year 2016 has passed us by, but none of these seemingly unstoppable shots got past the Premier League’s best goalkeepers this past year.
In 2016 we saw the emergence of several goalkeepers who lit up the Premier League with some spectacular saves. The likes of Jack Butland and Jordan Pickford are looking like bright prospects for the future, while former Manchester United keeper Tim Heaton has had a late renaissance.
Of course they had some of the best in the world to look up to. The evergreen Petr Cech, French maestro Hugo Lloris and Spanish saviour David de Gea are all some of the best in the business, and showed just as much for their clubs this past year.
THT narrows down the list of amazing saves down to five, the best of 2016.
1. Lee Grant (Stoke City) v/s Manchester United
Second choice at Championship side Derby County, Lee Grant had big gloves to fill after Stoke City’s regular keeper Jack Butland was sidelined with injury. The 33-year-old was faced with the task of going up against the likes of Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Paul Pogba and Juan Mata.
Grant excelled in his first match at Old Trafford, as the Potters salvaged a 1-1 draw. The veteran keeper made some excellent saves, but his early save to keep out Zlatan Ibrahimovic was definitely the most memorable.
This is a textbook example of how to save a low flying shot coming at a keeper when he is cramped for space, as Grant’s excellent reflexes denied the Swede icon even after he had all the space in the world to fire one in.
2. David de Gea (Manchester United) v/s Liverpool
David de Gea has often been the difference maker for the Red Devils. The Spanish goalkeeper has won the club Player of the Season three seasons in a row, and continues to put in excellent displays for Manchester United each passing week.
The goalless draw between Manchester United and Liverpool in October may not have been the high-octane thriller that many were anticipating, but it did include one of the finest saves of the season.
In the secong half, the saviour of Old Trafford, De Gea went diving to his left to deny a long range missile from Philippe Coutinho, and the flying Spaniard showed in that one moment just why he is a strong contender for the best goalkeeper in the world.
— Troll Football Media (@Troll__Footbal) October 17, 2016
3. Petr Cech (Arsenal) v/s Bournemouth
Many believe that Arsene Wenger and Arsenal have finally found the missing piece of the puzzle in veteran shot stopper Petr Cech. The Chelsea great moved to their bitter rivals in the summer of 2015 and has been rock solid for them ever since.
There are many great stops that the former Czech international has made since then, and the game against Bournemouth back in February, 2016 remains a brilliant example of his quick thinking, reflexes, clam and composure.
Out of the many saves he made that evening, his best was probably the double save he pulled off at the end of the game.
4. Jordan Pickford (Sunderland) v/s Tottenham
Sunderland may have had a very poor 2016 overall, but they have surely discovered one of the best young talents around in U21 International Jordan Pickford. The young Englishman has been phenomenal for the Black Cats and is probably their most potent armour in the battle against relegation.
One of his best showings was against an in-form Tottenham Hotspur team in September. This included a very awkward save from a viciously dipping Moussa Sissoko cross which Pickford had to jump at and thwart.
5. Tom Heaton (Burnley) v/s Manchester United
One of the most dreadful sights for any goalkeeper in the world would be that of the towering Swiss giant Zlatan Ibrahimovic readying himself to unleash a blistering volley in their direction. However Tim Heaton can proudly say that he saw the beast and conquered it.
Just like his predecessor on this list, Heaton found himself face to face with Ibra, but with the predatory striker in an even better position. In an octopus like manoeuvre that even caused the keeper some serious damage, the Englishman jumped and spread across space to deny Zlatan.
This save is certainly a contender for the best of the season when the dust settles in 2017.