We’ve only briefly looked at goalkeeper numbers in the past on the blog. To our minds, it’s simple – the first-choice netminder should wear 1 and his deputy should be 12, 13, 16 or 22 (depending on what country it is). Beyond that, we like 24, 25 or 26 for the third choice and other back-ups should be 30, 35 and 40.
We accept that there is a chance that others may disagree, of course so, with the Premier League having re-started, we felt that it might be worth looking at what digits appear on the backs of those between the posts.
Of the 20 clubs, 19 of them have a number 1 and, thankfully, all of them are goalkeepers (Liverpool are the exception). In addition, nobody has yet tried to do an Emiliano Viviano or Jens Lehmann by wearing another 1-11 number. Of the 10 games played on the opening weekend, though, only two had both teams with number 1 in goal (Kasper Schmeichel and Costel Pantilimon in the Leicester City-Sunderland game and Artur Boruc and Brad Guzan in Bournemouth-Aston Villa).
The Manchester United v Tottenham Hotspur and Arsenal v West Ham games didn’t have anyone wearing 1 on the pitch, though Hugo Lloris was on the bench for Spurs and would have started if he had been fully fit. John Ruddy, Heurelho Gomes, Lukasz Fabianski, Tim Krul, Jack Butland and Joe Hart were the other number 1s to play for their clubs.
That 1 is the most popular number for keepers in the Premier League is hardly a surprise; beyond that is there much of a pattern? To aid you, we’ve done up a nice bar-chart, but we’ve inserted some criteria. Strictly speaking, the third-most popular GK number in the league is 45, chosen by four, but beyond the mid-30s is really either for young players or those frozen out. In addition, some clubs, like Arsenal or Southampton, announce the numbers given to the Captial One Cup fodder while others only publicise first-team numbers. To that end, beyond 34 (worn by three), we’ve lumped them together in groups.
The most surprising thing (for us, anyway) is that no goalkeeper wears a number between 14 and 19. For whatever reason, 31 and 34 are slightly popular, with all three wearings of 31 coming at clubs where the other two keepers are 1 and 13 – perhaps it’s seen as a good fit for being the reverse of 13?