Ligue 1: who was the best goalkeeper of the season ?
Translated from French by Nick Arnaud Ntore.
Ligue 1 (season finale) : les gardiens en chiffres
Ligue 1 season is over and the summer break is always an opportunity to study stats. We start this week with goalkeepers and one question : which one was the best of the 2016-17 season ?
% of shots saved: Carrasso #1
Let’s start with the most commonly used data about them : the % of shots saved. Last january, after 20 games, 4 players were above 80% of shots saved: Trapp, Ruffier, Carrasso and Cardinale. Only one managed to stay at this level: Carrasso (81,06%). He finished the season as #1, followed by Kevin Trapp (79,71%) and Yoan Cardinale (78,53%).
Below this trio, we are looking at two of the best improvements of the season with Alban Lafont (75,62%) and Yohann Pelé (75,51%).
In term of quantity of shots faced, it is not surprising to see Thomas Didillon (4,82 shots faced/90 minutes) and Baptiste Reynet (4,49) in the Top 3: they are the keepers of the two teams that conceded the most shots per game (Metz 15,6 and Dijon 14,6).
A little bit more surprising is the second place of Benjamin Lecomte (4,63) while Lorient is the 11th team in term of shots conceded (12 shots/match). This can be explained by the general lack of agressivity of their defence (the team ranks last in tackles attempted/game): against Lorient, opponents have an easier access to the goal.
Expected Goals: the rise of Yohann Pelé
Since the rise of Expected Goals in football, we know that shot quality differs. In other words, it is easier to have 80% of shots saved when you are PSG’s goalkeepers than Dijon’s. To evaluate a GK performance, you have to take note of shots quality. The graphic below shows the best goalkeepers of the season.
In abscissa, we see the goals that were scored; in ordinate, the goals that « were supposed » to be scored (addition of all shots faced by the goalkeeper = total xG faced). The more a goalkeeper is above the green line, the more he’s performing… and otherwise with the red line.
In January, 6 goalkeepers were above the green line : Carrasso, Cardinale, Trapp, Ruffier, Johnsson and Pionnier. Only Carrasso, Cardinale and Trapp stayed above it. Bordeaux’s keeper was the best throughout the whole season (1,35 xG/1 goal conceded). Since 2013, only 2 goalkeepers did better: David Ospina (Nice) and Vincent Enyeama in the 2013-2014 season (1,39xG/ 1 goal scored).
4th man above the green line, Yohann Pelé had a fantastic second half. In January, he oscillated between the red and blue zones ; now he is with the best (1,10). Lafont, Subasic and Enyeama also all improved during that period.
On the other hand, the greatest fall goes to Karl Johan Johnsson (Guingamp), going from green to red in just a few months. Ruffier and Pionnier fell to the intermediate zone after a difficult second half. Finally, Anthony Lopes’ season got really bad after an already average first half.
Who did well: the defence or the goalkeeper ?
We just saw it : the season of a goalkeeper isn’t linear. It can be linked to the dynamic of the team. If the team is bad, the goalkeeper could have a hard time because he’d face more difficult shots. On the other hand, if the team performs well, it’d be easier for the keeper.
The graphic below associates the % of shots saved by a goalkeeper and the average quality of shots conceded by the team (xG/shots faced). Each point is a half-season of a goalkeeper. By linking those 2 points (2 half-seasons), we can have an idea about how and why Ligue 1 keepers performed this way this season.
Let’s take 4 examples : Alban Lafont, Yohann Pelé, Danijel Subasic and Yoan Cardinale.
Let’s start by the interesting case of Yohann Pelé. The ex-Mans man just come off a brilliant second half. Despite the rise of the average shot difficulty (xG/shots faced rises = arrow goes up), his % of saved shots rose also (from 71,62% in the first half of the season to 79,01% in the second half of the season). He played a huge part in the very good ending of Marseille’s season.
Alban Lafont and Yoan Cardinale had 2 opposite second half. The Toulouse goalkeeper followed the improvement of his defence (arrow down) and elevated his % of shots saved (arrow to the right). Cardinale faced more difficult shots and his % of shots saved diminished (87,32% to 69,57%).
Last example, the best goalkeeper of the season according to Ligue 1 players : Danijel Subasic (he received the trophy at the end of it). The Croatian was disappointing in the first half of the season (68,33% of shots arrested and 0,88 xG/goal conceded) but he did much better after. Despite the stagnation of Monaco’s defence, he improved his % of saved shots (83,72%) and his xG/goal conceded (1,67).
Below the complete board (watch out for your eyes).
Big chances : the surprise Chernik
After this global view, let’s take a look of one precise event: Big Chances. Those are occasions when the shooter is supposed to score (one vs one, shots near the goal,…). Since 2013, Ligue 1’s best goalkeeper in this area is Vincent Enyeama. In the 2013-2014 season, he saved 72,7% of those shots (16 Big Chances saved on 22 Big Chances conceded by Lille).
This season, Nancy’s goalkeeper Sergey Chernik got close (66,7%) but with a lower game time (1459 minutes vs 3420) and a smaller pattern (8 Big Chances stopped/12). Behind him, we find Kevin Trapp (55,6% on 5/9) and Cedric Carrasso (50% on 9/18).
To go beyond…
Until now, this article focused on shots conceded and saved… but a goalkeeper also has to be good in claims, anticipation and distribution.
Without taking it all to details, squawka.com gives us 2 new datas: the claim efficiency and the defensive errors made.
This last table allows us to notice that, over and above being effective in term of Big Chances (66,7%) and flirting with the balance-point (0,97xG/goal conceded), Sergey Chernik also has been effective in his claims (100%) and didn’t make any mistakes. A catch for the summer now that Nancy has been relegated ?
Baptiste Reynet, Stéphane Ruffier and Yohann Pelé also made no mistake on their claims even if they are goalkeepers that are used to go out of their comfort zone. After a few errors (4 for 4 goals conceded) during his first season in France, Kevin Trapp didn’t make any mistake during this one, becoming the #1 PSG hoped.
But one keeper make his way out of others: Cedric Carrasso. Bordeaux’s #16 was outstanding in the first half of the season (1,92xG/goal conceded), a period during which he had to prove that he was still the #1 in the hierarchy. His efficiency obviously dropped in 2017 but the Avignon-born still managed to be in the Top 5 of the second half (behind Subasic, Pelé, Ndy Assembé and Enyeama).
Out of contract this summer, his brilliant season should open him a lot of doors. However, teams that are interested in him should take into account that he missed up to 40% of Ligue 1 matches 1 in the last 2 seasons due to injuries (44 played / 76). It remains to know if he will still be #1 (Montpellier? Nantes? Strasbourg?) or just a back-up (Monaco?)… even if the guy « isn’t clearly destined to be a back-up » to quote Jocelyn Gourvennec (Bordeaux’s coach). It will also be sad to see him on a bench after this brilliant season (but we clearly don’t know if he will be able to reproduce).
Now, let’s talk about the future… and Alban Lafont (born in 1999). For his rookie 2015-2016 season, he got very average stats (0,79xG/1 goal conceded) for a keeper of his age. This 2016-2017, he got better, finishing close to the balance point (0,98xG/1goal conceded). The main satisfaction of his season is that he improved significantly in term of Big Chances saved, going from 12,7% to 35,7%.
And now, the disappointement of the season: Anthony Lopes. The OL goalkeeper ended a bad season for him (0,85xG/1 goal conceded), his worst since he started as a #1. He is very far away from the other Top 6’s keepers: Danijel Subasic (1,09) – Kevin Trapp (1,17) – Yoan Cardinale (1,28) – Yohann Pelé (1,30) – Cedric Carrasso (1,35). He was hurt by a catastrophic second half, finishing only above Vercoutre, Johnsson and Didillon (who is last) in the efficiency standings. The more worrying is that this 2016-2017 season follows in the footsteps of the last one where he wasn’t brilliant.
Since his fantastic 2014-2015 season, where he hit his peak, he didn’t manage to reproduce. He is not the consistent player that is Stephane Ruffier (1,16 – 1,19 – 1,15 – 1,09 in his last 4 seasons) or even keepers like Danijel Subasic and Vincent Enyeama, that have been able to repeat great performances.
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