Shots vs saves for Championship keepers: Who tops the tables?

Who’s the best shot-stopper in the Championship?

Right now, after 21 games, it’s Middlesbrough’s Darren Randolph.

If we measure shots saved against shots faced, Randolph has an 80% success rate.

At the other end of the table, Ben Amos, on loan at Millwall from Bolton, has stopped about 53% of shots aimed at his net (in 12 games). Scroll down to see those percentages in a table.

Average save percentage in the Championship is about 67%.

But can we tell how good a ‘keeper is from those figures? Not really. It’s not the whole story.

Here’s a pretty scatter plot that stars to give a clue about relative performance of goalkeepers.

Keepers plot abline xGAIn general, the more to the right and below the line a ‘keeper is, the higher his save ratio. And as you can see, those that play for clubs that are higher in the Championship are generally the ones that occupy those parts of the chart.

But there are some outliers. Namely, ‘keepers that appear to be putting in massive performances in very difficult circumstances.

First is Anssi Jaakkola at Reading with a save percentage of 76%. Next is Marek Rodak at Rotherham, on 73.5%.

Not only are these two saving way above the average number of shots against them. They are also doing it for teams that give up a lot of shots in high percentage areas.

To show that, I have also factored in total team xGA (expected goals against) to give an idea of the quantity and quality of shots given up by a goalie’s team.

So, the size of the point shows that Jaakkola and Rodak generally face shots of high quality, and a lot of them too.

Meanwhile, Darren Randolph’s Boro team – exhibiting “the Pulis effect” – are masters in restricting opponents to low percentage shot areas, making his table-topping 80% save ratio look a little less hard-fought.

Are there any outliers in the other direction? If any, Orjan Nyland at Aston Villa is a contender.

Keepers bar chart 17-12-18

Most of his fellow ‘keepers are in the better-than-average zone, whereas his save percentage is just about bang on the mean at a club with about average xGA for the division, but I’d guess that Villa’s free-scoring style both accounts for that and lessens its effect.

Having said all that, I’m not able to give the eye test to all these conclusions. It’d be good to hear from fans of other clubs about whether the numbers ring true.

Even if they’re not the greatest measure of a keeper, I think they can say something about team performance and playing style.

Table 17-12-18



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