Brand new EFL Goalkeeper Analysis data tables
As seen on the main site GC Analytics GK Analysis is designed to show how a keeper is performing in terms of shot stopping ability, handling, and distribution amongst a few other metrics.
In this post I will be detailing and publishing the up to date goalkeeper shot stopping tables on the keepers in the three EFL League's to see who is performing well and who isn't with some paragraphs on what they tell us and who to keep an eye on in terms of who could make a step up in class.
Now although these metrics are relatively new it does give a very good representation of a keeper's shot stopping ability encompassing the team he is currently playing in and the league he is playing in.
The reason for the tables being ranked in AAGS (Above Average Goals Saved) is that this gives us a clear indication of how many goals a keeper has or has not, according to the league average, cost his team directly but also the amount of goals he has been directly responsible for keeping out. Why is this useful? These measures are important in not only identfying a keepers shot stopping ability but also in terms of being able to still be a good shot stopper in a team that is maybe struggling at the wrong end of the table. So if he is a busy keeper and facing a great deal of shots on his goal and his save percentage and AAGS is good we can assume he is pretty good keeper, in terms of shot stopping anyway, and we can then explore more from there such as looking at some video to analyse the type of saves he is having to make or his choice of save in any given moment.
Now some of the rankings in these tables can look slightly skewed this is down to games played as for example Middlesbrough's Darren Randolph has played all 33 games whereas Sheffield Wednesday's Cameron Dawson has played 10 games less at 23 so although the figures are relative to the games played and do correspond to the AAGS and other totals some keepers rankings will be inflated but can be attributed to the number of games played but we can evaluate that with ease. Something else that should be noted is that only ten goalkeepers in the Championship have a positive adjusted save percentage which alludes to the league being increasingly difficult in terms of keeping goals from being scored.
Middlesbrough have, as a team, conceded the fewest goals in the Championship with a healthy total of just 24 goals however Boro' number 1 Randolph has still kept out 7.31 goals with the saves he has made and with a save percentage of 79% he really is having a good season. 3rd in the table above is Bristol City's 34 year old stopper Niki Maenpaa and he personally has let in 25 of the 30 goals City have conceded with an xGA of 29.97 and having kept out 4.27 goals himself not overly impressive. This is again where we have to use some context in that he has only played in 23 games this season and Bristol City are pushing for a playoff spot at the time of writing.
Having kept out 6.38 goals Costel Pantilimon, Nottingham Forest's goalkeeper has also caught the eye as the season goes on. The giant Belgian has played every minute in between the sticks for Forest. Sitting just above the average in adjsave% at 0.041 Forest's current league position of 8thpartially reflects Pantilimon's form.
To be honest there arent many, if any, surprises in the goalkeepers Championship table as it is such a competitive league and results are sometimes unpredictable and bizaare games like the 5-5 draw played out between Aston Villa and Notts Forest are testament to that.
Leeds United's young keeper Bailey Peacock-Farrell, who I think will be a top keeper, if given the game time he needs in the Championship (no higher at this moment in time) and maybe not at Leeds, has matched his xGA with his actually goals scored at 30. Not the greatest endorsement numbers wise but he was learning his trade and showing great promise in a tough league at just 22 years of age until Kiko Casilla came along and blocked his path to progress. What impresses me most about the young Northern Irish international was not only his ability with the ball at his feet alongside his quick and accurate distribution but his bravery and body position when in one on one's not going down or selling himself to early. Let's hope someone or Bielsa see sense and get him some time on the pitch in the near future because if Leeds do get promoted I worry that Bielsa hasn't the faith in him as a number 2 that he should have in him as a number one.
A couple of other keeper's I want to give a quick mention to and who I rate quite highly are Kieren Westwood of Sheffield Wednesday who seems to be gradualy being fazed out for the previously mentioned Cameron Dawson. Westwood is another keeper with excellent distribution and shot stopping ability with a great awarness and control of his 18 yard box but at 34 maybe a change is needed in terms of playing time. Another keeper is Birmingham City keeper David Stockdale currently on loan at Coventry City. After making 133 appearances for Brighton in their promotion season to the EPL in 2017 he was then sold to Birmingham at the end of that season. Brief loan spells at Southend (3 apps) and Wycombe (2 apps) followed and Stockdale deserved better and I championed him for a move to my club Aston Villa but alas we never came in for him and now, with no disrespect to League 1 football, he should be playing at a higher level (and isnt even getting game time at The Ricoh lately) than Coventry are currently playing at.
EFL League 1
James Shea, a former Arsenal academy player, AFC Wimbledon and current Luton Town keeper, is another player who I really like and the numbers do to. Under Nathan Jones and now Mick Harford Luton are having a cracking season in League 1 and a big part of that has been the incredible form of Shea in goal. Luton have a good defensive shape in games and have conceded the joint lowest 28 goals with fellow promotion favourites Barnsley with Shea conceding 23 of them (in the games he has played in Luton have an xGA of 36.67) but the AAGS number tells us he has personally been responsible for keeping a possible 13.67 goals out with an incredible save percentage of 78% to boot. Shea is 27years old and comes from a non-league playing background ( Southampton in 2011 ended without him making any appearances). If Luton go up he is a more than able Championship keeper with his excellent shot stopping ability and a useful skill in organising his defence in regards to communicating to them about what he is seeing in front of him so they can change the width and positioning of the defensive line if necessary.
Another top League 1 stopper is The Mackems No.1 Jon McLaughlin. The 31 year old Scotman has conceded 32 goals in all 33 games Sunderland have played this year which means you may think I am daft telling you he is a good keeper. However Sunderland are consistently massive over performers in terms of their league position (see my xPoints table https://www.gcanalytics.net/efl-league-1). This over performing could explain McLaughlin's 10,02 goals saved this season but with only the 32 goals conceded from 145 shots McLaughlin is clearly a good shot stopper if nothing else.
Typically at the other end keepers playing for teams that tend to have lost quite a few games and find themselves the wrong end of ther table tend to have the lowest AAGS ratings. Rochdale's Josh Lillis is one such keeper and according to the data he has been responsible for conceding just over 7 goals not a huge amount but when we consider the closet to him are AFC Wimbledon's (a hugely under performing side and again check the xPoints table) Joe McDonnell and Oxford's Simon Eastwood the numbers don't look good. But let's be clear I am not saying these three players are bad keepers they are part of teams who have consistently struggled throughout the course of this season so again context must be used but the data doesnt lie and this is just a small part when assessing a keepers overall skillset.
EFL League 2
Unlike the Championship but very simiarl to League 1 the keepers in this league generally have a fairly good adjusted save percentage give or take but when we look at the xG ratios of the teams in the two league's its clear to see that most teams in these league's do not create a huge amount of high xG chances which goes a little way to explaining the positive adjusted save percentages of the keepers in the two league's.
MK Dons keeper Lee Nicholls is the standout shot stopper in League 1 with an AAGS of 6.87. Nicholls overall is a good keeper and having watched him in the flesh on many occasions the numbers certainly back up the eye test. Comfortable at coming for crosses, good shot stopping ability and his positioning is generally good but I would say his distribution from his feet could be better and maybe his one v one's could be improved upon a bit and recently the silly little errors have crept in some issues to keep an eye on perhaps.
Teams in League 2 are all of a similar standard with only the top two sides over the last few years being marginally better than the mid table sides (in that they score more goals) and the bottom two/three being marginally poorer than the mid table sides (in that they concede more goals) but looking at this years goals for and against columns in the league table and you will see that Bury have conceded only 3 less goals than Port Vale who are in 21st so evaluating goalkeepers in this league is difficult.
Bury keeper Joe Murphy is a case in point. Murphy is 37 years old and has appeared a great deal in League 1 and 2 football over the past few years. Now Bury currently sit in a healthy second place in League 2 yet Murphy, having played in all but 5 games for Bury, has seen all 39 (with an xGA of 32.93) of Bury's goals against go past him into the net and he sits 21st in my table and according to the data has been responsible for keeping out only 6 of them himself. So the data tells us that 33 of the goals against he couldnt have done much about an interesting concept. So essentially this doesnt make him a bad keeper especially given that anyone who has watched Bury this season will tell you that they are a side who play with a high risk high reward strategy and this means Murphy may well be exposed when Bury lose the ball high up the pitch (watch the 3-3 draw with Lincoln and you will see what I mean).
Finally a big mention, and a keeper I really rate highly already, goes to Macclesfield Town and Republic of Ireland U21 international keeper Kieron O'Hara. The Manchester United goalkeeper is on loan for the season at Moss Rose and has had to face a barrage of shots (136) on his goal in his 24 games this season yet he has kept out 5.48 goals not world beating numbers but for a 22 year old I think this is impressive given Macclesfield have had a poor season and sit 23rd in the league table this will be a great learning experience for O'Hara and I would expect him to be playing League 1 football at least somewhere next season if United decide to send him out on loan again.
This data work isnt meant to give a complete picture of how a goalkeeper is performing but it goes a long way in terms of evaluating their shot stopping capabilities. If you would like to know more about how GC Analytics use this and other types of metrics in the use of scouting goalkeepers take a look at some other metrics used on the site.