STATS: Who Has Been the Best Goalkeeper of the 2014/15 Premier League Season?
Last year, I put together a post looking at top goalkeeper stats for the 2013/14 Premier League season. It proved pretty popular, so for the final weekend of the 2014/15 season, I’ve crunched all the key goalkeeper statistics for this campaign, ranking the best GKs across 7 different metrics, and then calculating an aggregate ‘La La La score’; a kind of performance overview for each keeper based on the position they ranked in each of those tables. If you want the data-driven verdict on who’s been this season’s best Premier League goalkeeper, you’ve come to the right place.
My analysis was based on the 14 goalkeepers who have played 30 or more games this season, with data taken from FoxSports.com and Squawka.com.
The tables below show top 10s, or more where multiple players are tied on the same figure. The final ‘La La La Score’ table includes all 14 keepers analaysed.
|D De Gea||10|
4 keepers have managed 13 cleansheets this season, with Forster, Hart, Fabianski and Mignolet all equally ranked. By comparison, Cech was already up to 15 cleansheets by early April last year, so none of the keepers have achieved anything remarkable, then, on this front.
Most Cleansheets per Game
|Cleansheets per Game|
|D De Gea||0.27|
Cleansheets per game is a more accurate measure of a keeper’s record for keeping his net undisturbed. Forster has a clear lead in this table, followed by Courtois, then Hart and Mignolet, both on 0.37 cleansheets per game.
Fewest Goals Conceded
|D De Gea||36|
In terms of overall goals conceded, it’s Fraster Forster once again that leads the way. Forster made exactly 30 appearances this season before suffering a serious knee injury that could rule him out for up to a year, and has conceded 21 goals. Courtois, Hart and De Gea are, unsurprisingly, also high up the table, whilst, at the other end, Tottenham’s Lloris won’t be happy about conceding 48 goals in 34 appearances.
Fewest Goals Conceded per 90 Minutes
|Conceded per 90 Minutes|
|D De Gea||0.98|
Again, what’s more interesting is goals conceded per 90 minutes, as this gives a better reflection of the performance of each player based on actual time between the sticks. Yet again, Forster is the top keeper, having conceded just 0.72 goals per 90 minutes. This is considerably better than Courtois, Hart and De Gea, who have conceded 0.96, 0.97 and 0.98 goals per 90 minutes respectively.
% of Shots Saved
|Shots Faced||Saves||% Saved|
|D De Gea||128||92||72|
This is my favourite goalkeeper stat – the percentage of shots they actually saved based on all the shots they faced. Whereas the entire defence plays a major role in cleansheets and goals conceded, this statistic gives more insight into how each goalie performed in terms of their shot-stopping record. Yes, a good defence will restrict the opposition to fewer shots from the most threatening positions, and no stat ever tells the full story, but as GK stats go, this feels like the purest.
With all that in mind, major credit must go to Swansea’s Łukasz Fabiański (75% shots saved), who deservedly won the players’ player of the year award, newcomer of the year and away player of the year at the club’s awards dinner on Wednesday.
West Ham’s Adrián is tied with Southampton’s Forster as the Premier League’s second best shot-stopper at 74% – Adrian was also ranked 2nd on this metric in my analysis last season.
Meanwhile, De Gea, Hart and Courtois have all recorded a 72% shots/saves ratio, but if you add a couple more decimal places, it looks like this:
|Shots Faced||Saves||% Saved|
|D De Gea||128||92||71.88|
% of Games Won
|Games Played||Wins||Win %|
|D De Gea||37||20||54|
This stat is more a reflection of overall team performance, but as United fans have witnessed so often with De Gea this season, goalkeepers can definitely dictate results. As such, it seems worthwhile to compare the top 10 keepers based on percentage of games won when they were playing; Joe Hart is top on 60%, compared to 59% for Courtois and 54% for De Gea.
|Distribution Success %|
|D De Gea||69|
Last year, I said De Gea needed to up his distribution accuracy from 62%, and it seems like he was listening! The United no.1 has recorded a 69% distribution success rate this season – the league’s best. Begovic and Mignolet also performed particularly well on this front, with Mignolet showing some consistency, and indeed slight improvement in this area, having been the second-best distributor of the ball last season. At the other end of the table, Hart and Courtois both have surprisingly poor distribution success rates, with fewer than 6 in 10 of their kicks and throws finding one of their own players.
La La La Score
|D De Gea||82|
This is my attempt to rank the top 14 keepers (those who have played 30 games or more) based on points awarded for their rank in each of the previous 7 tables, via some Excel Pivot Table tinkering. The score is out of 98, not 100, in case you were wondering.
Fraser Forster gets a La La La score of 89, making him statistically the best Premier League goalkeeper of 2014/15. With the 27-year-old seemingly hitting his peak and looking like he could challenge Hart for the England position, it’s massively unfortunate for the player that he could potentially be sidelined for a year. Hopefully he will get back to fitness sooner than that, and continue showing his quality in the EPL.
Thibault Courtois scores 85, making him the Premier League’s second-best goalkeeper this season. We all knew he was a massive talent, and he had to live up to the billing to displace Petr Cech in Chelsea’s goal.
Joe Hart scores 84, making him the third best GK in the Premier League. He seems to have regained any confidence he lost last season and, despite Kompany’s dodgy form in front of him, he’s looked incredibly consistent this campaign. The assertion that he’s the best keeper in the world is certainly flawed, but those who were mocking Hart not long ago may have to review their opinion of the City stopper.
I’ve ranked David De Gea as the fourth best keeper in the league – as much as I love him and pray that he stays with United for the next 10 years, and as brilliant as some of his performances have been, he’s ultimately conceded too many goals to be statistically ranked as the best. As a United fan, I wouldn’t choose to swap him for Forster, Courtois or Hart, but they have all had excellent seasons, and the standard of goalkeeping in the Premier League remains impressively high.
I hope you’ve found this data interesting, and would love to hear your thoughts in the comments below. Are you surprised that Forster has performed so well? Are there any other stats you’d like to see? Let me know!