Guardians have become increasingly essential to the way a football team plays. We have seen this with Manchester City goalkeeper Ederson and how comfortable he is with the ball at his feet. We also recently saw David de Gea struggle to play at full-back for Erik ten Hag’s Manchester United. However, a goalkeeper’s job is primarily to keep the ball out of his net. This season has raised the question, do teams prioritize a goalkeeper’s passing ability over their actual goalkeeping abilities?

In this data analysiswe will look at the statistics of each premier league goalkeeper to determine if he relied on his team’s defense. We’ll analyze each team’s first-choice goalkeepers, focusing on their goalkeeping, assists and sweeps. These categories will give us a complete overview analysis.

Who are the best stoppers?

A goalkeeper’s data can often look good because he is behind a strong defensive unit. Therefore, it is important to take this into account when analyzing a goalkeeper. Goalkeepers from the worst teams face more shots, which means they are more likely to concede. This first graph will take into consideration the number of shots each team faces.

The chart below looks at how many shots each goalkeeper faces per 90, and how often they register those shots.

Finding the best Premier League goalkeepers - data analysis statistics

The best keepers here are those in the upper right quadrant. These players faced above-average shot count per 90, while also having a save percentage of over 67.5%.

Instantly we can see Newcastle’s Nick Pope standing out from the crowd. Pope faces the fourth most shots per 90 with 5.66 and he has an incredible 84.21 saving percentage. Pope has been one of the most consistent goaltenders in recent seasons.

Another England man has the second-best save percentage with 81.82%. Even though Everton have started the season quite poorly, Jordan Pickford has established himself as one of the best goalkeepers this season, against an above average home crowd. 4.91 shots by 90.

The final player to stand out (for positive reasons) is Wolves’ José Sá. Since joining the Midlands club, Sá has gone under the raider somewhat. Although he only faces 3.15 shots by 90, he saves 80.95% of them, which is surprising given Wolves’ poor start to the season.

Danny Ward and Mark Travers both had tough starts to the season, with both goalkeepers suffering from their team’s poor defence. However, the biggest shocker on this chart is Ederson. The Brazilian faces a low in the league 1.84 shots per 90 but has the second-worst save percentage with 50%. Did Ederson hide behind his defense?

This next chart looks at more advanced data, 90 goals prevented against PSxG/SoT, which translates to the difficulty of the shots they face.

Finding the best Premier League goalkeepers - data analysis statistics

Once again, the players in the upper right quadrant of this chart are the most impressive. This means they prevented the most goals, but also faced the toughest shots.

Bernd Leno has prevented the most goals this season so far with 1 by 90, very impressive. As expected, playing for a newly promoted side, the German faced some pretty tough shots (0.37). Leno spent most of last season second-choice at Arsenal, but he’s proving to be a great acquisition for Fulham.

Pickford also impresses in this data. Although he faced below average shooting difficulty (0.28)he is prevented 0.72 goals by 90. Pope is close to the Everton man, his stats are slightly worse but still very impressive. He prevented the third most goals on 90 with 0.42from a shooting difficulty of 0.25.

Despite his detractors, David de Gea has had a very good start to the season. The Spaniard faced some pretty tough shots and prevented 0.28 goals by 90. However, Dean Henderson, who was looking to overtake de Gea as Manchester United’s starting goalkeeper, has better stats than his former team-mate. 0.35 shooting difficulty, with 0.38 goals prevented by 90

The best sweepers

This next section will look at the sweeping abilities of each goalie. A goalkeeper’s ability to get off his line to diffuse dangerous situations has become increasingly important in recent years, especially if his defense is playing a high line.

Finding the best Premier League goalkeepers - data analysis statistics

West Ham’s Fabiański has stopped the most crosses this season, with a strong 13.6%. However, the veteran goalkeeper has one of the lowest actions outside the penalty area by 90 (0.19).

Both Merseyside goalkeepers impress in takeover terms by 90. Pickford has 1.83 outside penalty area actions by 90, the most in the league. He also stopped 5.6% of the crosses he faced, just below league average. Liverpool goalkeeper Alisson ranks above the league average in both stats, 7.4% the crosses stopped and 1.67 actions outside the penalty area by 90.

Pope has been one of the most prolific sweepers in recent seasons, and that looks set to continue. Newcastle’s new man has 1.5 outside the penalty area actions by 90, with 6.8% the crosses have stopped.

Leicester’s Ward haven’t had the best start to the season; however, he is one of the best in the league in terms of sweeping. The two youngest goalkeepers in the championship, Ilan Meslier and Gavin Bazunu impress here too. They both have stats above the league average.

The best passers

A goalkeeper’s passing is essential to the way his team plays these days. More possession-based teams need a goalkeeper who is good with the ball at their feet and has the confidence to play from behind. The next chart will look at who the league’s top passers are.

Finding the best Premier League goalkeepers - data analysis statistics

The graph above measures the number of passes each goalkeeper throws by 90, showing how important he is to his team in terms of possession, compared to the percentage of passes he throws. It also analyzes the number of passes they make, indicated by the yellow color of their marker.

As expected, the two Brazilians, Alisson and Ederson are the best passers in the league. Ederson makes 23 passes by 90, fair launch 19.5% of them. While Alisson makes more passes per 90 with 23.71he throws some more (24.7%). These stats show just how vital these two goalkeepers are to the way their teams play.

However, a surprise here is Ward. The Welshman has been instrumental in how his side have performed this season, despite finding themselves bottom of the table. Ward’s passing ability seems to be much better than his actual goalkeeping ability. He has the second most assists per 90 in the league with 25.1just throwing 25.4% of these.

David Raya of Brentford makes the most passes per 90 with 25.47however, his passing style seems to be quite varied, throwing just over half of those (51.30%). Nottingham Forest’s Dean Henderson has similar stats.

Pickford and Bazunu have the highest pass throwing percentages with 62.1% and 62.6% respectively. This means that their teams often choose to go deep rather than play from the back.

The stars

EdersonManchester City’s Ederson has been accused of hiding behind a very strong defense and his incredible passing ability. His data here seems to back that up. This season he has conceded more goals than expected, with -0.163 goals prevented, however, he faced some of the toughest shots in the league.

Nick PopeThe former Burnley man has the highest save percentage in the league this season. He has been one of the best goalkeepers in recent seasons. His size means he’s very adept at stopping crosses, and his sweeping stats have been very impressive recently. He clearly settled into his new team and got off to a flying start.

Jordan PickfordPickford has been one of the most improved goalkeepers in recent years. And he was arguably one of the most valuable players this season, with an incredible performance against Liverpool. His sweeping ability was highlighted in this play, along with his suspicious passing ability. It would be useful to analyze its performance in more depth.

Conclusion

This season, Ederson has a save rate of just 50%with Alisson having slightly better at 68.42%. However, these two goalkeepers have very similar passing styles and are essential to their team’s progress on the pitch. With the Liverpool defense looking more suspect than last year, Alisson clearly struggled more than usual.

Ederson has come under scrutiny over the past season for leaning on his defense, and it looks like he still is. The goalkeepers who have the best save percentage; Pope, Pickford and Sá, do not depend on the defense of their team.

Concentration is essential for a goalkeeper, and it seems that the keepers of the best teams struggle with it.