Arsenal’s success in the Premier League era has largely been reflected who they’ve had protecting their net.
Stability between the posts ensued for the first decade of Premier League competition, with a seamless goalkeeping transition perpetuating their success.
After moving to the Emirates Stadium, however, Arsenal’s goalkeeping position had become one of chaos and instability until Mikel Arteta stumbled upon the man who could potentially guard the Gunners’ goal for the next decade.
Here are the top ten Arsenal goalkeepers of the Premier League era.
It was a whirlwind of a ride for the future 2022 World Cup hero, who enjoyed loan spells at the likes of Oxford United, Sheffield Wednesday and Rotherham before finally earning his big break at Arsenal.
A decade after signing from Independiente in 2010, Emiliano Martinez earned widespread praise for his performances amid the club’s journey to FA Cup glory, earning a £20m move to Aston Villa off the back of his showings.
Initially signed as Jens Lehmann’s back-up, Manuel Almunia earned plenty of minutes as the German’s form dipped and he eventually became the club’s number one.
The Spaniard, however, remained Arsene Wenger’s primary shot-stopper for a curiously long time even when it became clear that he wasn’t cut out for the job.
While a respected figure in the dressing room and a loyal servant, Almunia certainly wasn’t the best goalkeeper Arsenal have had on their books.
David Ospina was Arsenal’s number one for a brief period, but he was only signed to provide stiffer competition for Wojciech Szczesny.
The Colombian international eventually earned the starting job and proved to be a fundamentally sound keeper throughout his Gunners tenure. His small frame, however, meant fans were never convinced by Ospina despite his steady form and he was quickly usurped by Petr Cech in 2015.
His appearances were often limited to cup competitions thereafter.
Alex Manninger hadn’t gained a ton of experience at the highest level when he was signed by the Gunners in 1997. However, the Austrian keeper proved to be a reliable number two to David Seaman during his five years at the club.
Manninger recorded six consecutive Premier League clean sheets in his first season and would go on to make 64 appearances for the Gunners. Richard Wright’s arrival from Ipswich signalled the end of his time in north London, although Wenger might have wished he held onto him.
Bernd Leno did little wrong during his time at the Emirates. The Mikel Arteta project simply evolved beyond the German.
While Leno was an excellent shot-stopper who produced one of the most outrageous double saves in a 2019 North London Derby, his limitations with the ball at his feet meant he was never compatible with Arteta and his ideals.
There were high hopes for Poland’s current number one when he first broke into the Arsenal side following an impressive loan at Brentford in 2009/10.
Wojciech Szczesny had spent three years in the Arsenal youth set-up before becoming the club’s starter during the 2010/11 season. Despite some low moments – the 2011 League Cup final and 8-2 defeat at Old Trafford stand out in this regard – the Pole performed well after earning the job.
He shared the Golden Glove with Petr Cech in 2013/14 but his form took a nosedive the following season. Although, he’d go out in style as he kept a clean sheet in Arsenal’s 2015 FA Cup final win over Aston Villa.
Szczesny later blossomed into an excellent goalkeeper with Juventus.
Petr Cech’s overall time at Arsenal isn’t exactly looked back on with much fondness due to his stark drop in performance towards the end of his spell in north London.
However, for the first couple of years, the all-time Premier League great retained his high levels of performance. He won his fourth Golden Glove in 2015/16 and helped Arsenal to FA Cup glory in 2016/17, although he actually missed the final due to injury.
The Czech keeper looked old during the latter days of his Arsenal tenure, and he was eventually succeeded by Bernd Leno as the Gunners’ number one after Unai Emery replaced Arsene Wenger.
Eyebrows were raised when Arsenal splashed £30m to sign a goalkeeper that had just suffered back-to-back Premier League relegations.
However, Aaron Ramsdale was Sheffield United’s Player of the Year in 2020/21 and Mikel Arteta identified the Englishman as the man to hold down the fort in Arsenal’s goal for the next however many years.
It didn’t take long for Ramsdale to usurp Bernd Leno in the depth chart and he swiftly endeared himself to the Emirates faithful. The 25-year-old has played a key part in Arsenal’s evolution under Arteta, with the goalkeeper embodying everything the Spaniard’s project is about.
Jens Lehmann had the unenviable task of replacing the club’s greatest-ever goalkeeper in 2003 when he was signed from Borussia Dortmund.
However, the German’s first year in north London couldn’t have gone any better as the Gunners lifted the Premier League title without losing. Lehmann started every single game that season, keeping 15 clean sheets.
His second wasn’t quite so good as Manuel Almunia earned minutes, but he rebounded in 2005/06 as he starred amid the club’s rise to the Champions League final. Lehmann kept a remarkable ten clean sheets in a row in the competition and went 853 minutes without conceding a goal.
His unfortunate red card in Paris signalled the end of Lehmann’s best for the north London club, but he’d spend another two seasons with Arsenal before returning to Germany and even briefly returned for one game in 2011.
Of course it is.
The club’s greatest-ever goalkeeper is one of the finest shot-stoppers England have ever produced, and David Seaman must be regarded as one of the best goalkeepers of his generation anywhere in the world.
Seaman was Arsenal’s number one for well over a decade, recording the sixth-most appearances in Gunners history (405) and winning three league titles in north London. He was twice named in the PFA Team of the Year and twice also ended the Premier League season with the most clean sheets.
While Jens Lehmann briefly did so, no Arsenal goalkeeper has come close to matching Seaman’s calmness and stability between the sticks.