Posted by Ben Curttright on November 21, 2022
If you’re coming over from (Top ten goalkeepers at the 2022 World Cup), you know the drill. All goalkeepers who’ve been officially named to World Cup squads (as of November 13) have, for this post, been sorted and ranked according to each of the categories tracked by Opta. This time, though, we’re looking for the guys who can’t keep a clean sheet to save their life; the guys who, through either poor positioning or slow reflexes, are letting in goals you’d expect a replacement-level keeper to save; the worst goalkeepers, statistically, at the 2022 FIFA World Cup.
Leicester City have had a relatively slow start to the Premier League season, and while it’d be harsh to blame it all on Welsh goalkeeper Danny Ward, he’s not entirely blameless. The keeper they let go to OGC Nice on a free, Kasper Schmeichel, is having a totally average year, with a post-shot xG minus goals allowed of 0.01; Ward, on the other hand, is well below average at -0.24 PSxG-GA. So far this year, he’s at -3.3 PSxG-GA total, meaning he’s let in about three goals that you’d expect an average keeper to save. Wayne Hennessey doesn’t even show up in this data set because he hasn’t played regularly at club level since 2018, but he’s still starting for Wales, and Ward’s underperformance this year won’t have done much to change manager Rob Page’s mind.
Second-Worst Shot Stopper:
The Senegalese was dealt a bit of a bad hand last season, facing some really excellent shots (post-shot xG per shot on target of 0.33), but -0.22 PSxG-GA suggests he didn’t help himself out, either. Rennes sporting director Florian Maurice took the somewhat unique step of publicly calling Gomis’s season “average”, telling TV Rennes, “The idea is to find a new goalkeeper while finding the best solution for him.” Rennes subsequently moved for France international Steve Mandanda, whose numbers look a lot better, but the shots he’s faced are significantly less dangerous at 0.26 PSxG/SoT. Football is cruel.
Most Goals Against Per 90:
The one caveat here is that this chart doesn’t include Ryan’s six appearances for FC Copenhagen in the Danish Superliga, where he’s allowed a much more reasonable seven goals (1.17 GA/90). It does include matches in the Champions League for Copenhagen and in the Europa League for former club Sociedad, and in those matches, the Australian conceded 2.17 goals per 90.
Lowest Save Percentage:
It’s possible to be both harsh and correct, right? Because, as mentioned above, Gomis faced fairly difficult shots in 2021/22, but he’s the only goalkeeper in the data set with a save percentage below 60%. Funnily enough, his Senegal colleague, reigning Best FIFA Men’s Goalkeeper Edouard Mendy, is also well below average in both PSxG-GA/90 (-0.20) and save percentage (66.4%) over the last 365 days. In fact, Mendy has had a negative post-shot xG minus GA over his whole Chelsea career; by that metric, at least, the Champions League and AFCON-winner is no better than Gomis.
Fewest Clean Sheets:
This is the other side of Hertha Berlin goalkeeper Oliver Christensen’s game: for every statistical category where he’s strong (he’s a good passer, gathers crosses well, and is very proactive), there’s another where he… isn’t. Christensen is near the bottom of eligible keepers in save percentage, post-shot xG minus goals allowed, and clean sheet percentage; in his 15 Bundesliga starts this year, Christensen has kept just two clean sheets. Hertha’s giving up a lot of shots, yes, but Christensen isn’t doing much to keep them out. The silver lining here is that he’s young and is already starting for a big club; he’s got time to work the kinks out of his game and to become a more well-rounded player.
Easiest Shots Faced:
It’s probably wrong to look at this chart and conclude that Dmitrovic deserves a place on a “worst goalkeepers” list. It’s not his fault that he’s had so little to do. Still, it’s worth noting that 0.18 post-shot xG per shot on target is spectacularly low. “It’s a save he really should be making,” the commentator says, and their partner replies, “Yes, but you still have to make the save,” which is true. But really, those are saves he should be making.
Over the past five seasons at Wolves and Roma, Portugal goalkeeper Rui Patricio has a very, very low 26 touches per 90. Only 2.69 of those touches are short passes, and another 6.67 are medium-length passes; compare that to Oliver Christensen, who makes 4.47 short and 12.8 medium passes per 90. For whatever reason, Patricio’s teammates and managers seem to have collectively decided, half a decade or so ago, not to pass him the ball.
Highest Launch Percentage:
Jordan Lee Pickford
Position: GK ▪ Footed: Left
185cm, 77kg (6-½, 170lb)
March 7, 1994
National Team: England eng
This is more a stylistic measure than a true mark of ability, and it could be argued that Pickford’s high launch percentage (the percentage of passes he hits long, not including goal kicks) is a positive for certain managers or playstyles. In general, across the data, a high number of touches correlates with a low launch percentage, which make sense intuitively if you imagine a goalkeeper playing short passes as their team builds from the back. Pickford, with 38.03 touches per 90 and a 61.4% launch percentage, is an exception. Should he play it short more often? Well, his completion percentage on those launched passes is only 35.8% over the course of his career, so… maybe.
Relatively unexpected, given that he came through the youth ranks at famously progressive Ajax. The keeper who replaced Onana at Ajax, Remko Pasveer, makes 1.52 defensive actions outside his area at an average distance of 20.0 yards; this season, Onana is at 0.43 and 12.1, respectively. The precipitous mid-career decline in sweeping tendencies coincides with Onana’s nine-month doping suspension in 2021, which could be, well, a coincidence.
Lowest Penalty Save Percentage: 32 players
The list of World Cup goalkeepers with a 0% penalty save record over the last 365 days is long and includes (deep breath): Onana, Ivo Grbic, Franco Armani, Dominik Livakovic, Ethan Horvath, Alphonse Areola, Alfredo Talavera, Robert Sanchez, Sean Johnson, Andries Noppert, Keylor Navas, Justin Bijlow, Simon Mignolet, Weverton, Kevin Trapp, Guillermo Ochoa, Vanja Milinkovic-Savic, Alfred Gomis, David Raya, Unai Simon, Philipp Kohn, Diogo Costa, Steve Mandanda, Jordan Pickford, Ederson, Edouard Mendy, Hugo Lloris, Danny Ward, Geronimo Rulli, Aaron Ramsdale, Manuel Neuer, and Nick Pope.
What can we learn from that? Well, penalties go in about 85% of the time in normal match situations, and there are a lot of good goalkeepers on that list. The main takeaway is: don’t concede a penalty! You’ll probably give up a goal!
Brief Note: data current as of November 12. Also, this piece has a companion, linked here.
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Posted in 2022 Men's World Cup | Comments Off on The Worst Goalkeepers at the 2022 World Cup