Top Five Number One’s In The EFL This Season – Opinion

January is officially over, and granted the transfer window doesn’t close until 11 pm tonight, we’re at a point in the season where squads have been, or are getting, finalised.

It therefore means that it is the perfect time to start looking back and determining which players have performed best, which is where our new series comes in. Every day in the month of February, we are going to take a look at the five best players who have worn each shirt number this season.

With outfield players often playing various positions and shirt numbers rarely matching up with positions played anymore, there are going to be some interesting choices. However, there is no easier place to start than number one, the goalkeeper’s shirt. This piece is effectively, which goalkeepers have performed best, although there are some that throw you off and wear ‘backup keeper’ shirt numbers. Yet some to wear the number one this season can immediately be disregarded for this article (sorry Carlisle United fans, do not expect to see yours in here).

Well, let us dive straight in and take a look at the picks, and the stats (which have all been provided by Fbref.)

Max O’Leary – Bristol City

Bristol City have spent most of this season in mid-table in the Championship, which is symbolised perfectly by their goal difference currently being 0. 31 goals scored is remarkably average, but only conceding the same number is rather impressive.  As much as goalkeepers cannot simply be judged on clean sheets or goals against, O’Leary has had an impressive fourth season at Ashton Gate.

The Irishman currently has a save percentage in the second tier of 73.8%, the fifth best in the division. Having a solid base to build on is something that Liam Manning will want from his side, and ensuring he has a goalkeeper between the sticks that he can rely on will fill him with confidence as the club looks to push further up the table.

Anthony Patterson – Sunderland AFC

Sunderland have had a rollercoaster of a season so far. The club have ambitions to return to the Premier League after their spell out of the top flight, but those promotion aspirations have not been met as of yet. One player who has performed solidly all season for Michael Beale’s men is goalkeeper Patterson.

The England U-21 International has racked up eight clean sheets this season, with an impressive 69.6% save percentage, including a penalty save. The Black Cats will want to push into the playoff fight for the second half of the season, and with the cool confidence of Patterson behind the defence, their fans will have every hope that they can achieve their goal.

Sam Tickle – Wigan Athletic

Wigan have not had the easiest of seasons following a summer where the future of the club was up in the air and there seemed no end to the state of affairs that saw them docked eight points before the first match of the season was even played. However, they managed to come out of that ordeal and their eight-point deficit was negated after only four matches.

Although that impressive early form did somewhat slow, their current mid-table position is much higher than what many may have predicted in the summer.  One big reason for their relative success since August is down to goalkeeper Sam Tickle. Having come through the academy at the DW Stadium, this is the 21-year-old’s first full season in professional football, and his nine clean sheets and over 75% save accuracy rank him as one of the best young shot-stoppers in League One.

Max Crocombe – Burton Albion

Having joined from Grimsby Town last summer on a free transfer, Crocombe has already endeared himself to the fans at the Pirelli Stadium. Burton’s league form this season may not be flattering, but their bigger issue is in front of goal, rather than defending it.

In his 27 appearances, the New Zealand international has faced 123 shots, the third-most in the division. However, his 93 saves, resulting in a save percentage of over 75%, ranks him as the highest in League One. For a team who have struggled and faced numerous shots, their number one has stood out, and arguably been the biggest factor in keeping them out of a relegation battle.

Paul Farman – Barrow AFC

Pete Wild has got his Barrow side performing at a top level in England’s fourth tier, instilling a club culture of total togetherness, that looks set to help the side achieve at the minimum a top-seven finish this season. One player who has bought into this culture in the North-West is Paul Farman.

The former Lincoln City man has consistently kept his team in matches and earned them points when they have been under the cosh. Facing 92 shots on target, and saving 69 of them, his 72.8% save percentage is the best of any keeper in the division to have played 25 or more matches. Even at the age of 34, Farman seems to have no plans to slow down any time soon.


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