The 5 Best & Worst Premier League Goalkeepers by Saves per Goal (2020-21 Edition)

Embed from Getty Images

Season after season in the Premier League, two of the biggest topics of debate involve refereeing and goalkeeping. We’ve already written about one of those two debates in our rant about the handball rule at the beginning of the season, and now it’s time to examine the good and the bad of the Premier League’s goalkeepers this season. Jordan Pickford, David De Gea and Alisson have all received criticism and attention for their recent performances, but this article attempts to assess how these players have actually performed, using data analytics. This is our analysis of the five best and worst goalkeepers in the league this season, utilizing saves per goal conceded as a statistical metric for our assessment.

why saves per goal?

Embed from Getty Images

Saves per goal conceded is an under-utilized football statistic that is actually very easy to analyze. Quite simply, you take the number of saves and divide it by the number of goals conceded, to get a metric by which players can be compared and assessed. Other statistics like clean sheets, or saves and goals conceded on their own, take into account the goalkeeper’s team much more than the goalkeeper themselves. After all, a goalkeeper is only one of eleven players in their side. Newer statistical measures like expected goals conceded, expected saves, etc., are more accurate, and use real statistics to acquire information, but they are still statistically hypothetical. Saves per goal conceded on the other hand is a mechanism for measuring a goalkeeper against themselves, without much consideration for their team’s defensive aptitude. Of course, more defensively solid teams may concede less frightening shots that are more likely to be saved. This is where expected goals against or expected saves can be valuable, as they take into consideration things like difficulty of shots and where on the field those shots are being taken from. Saves per goal conceded does not necessarily do that, and the measure is not without its faults, but it is still a very valuable metric by which goalkeepers can be assessed, particularly over longer periods of time.

So without further ado, TheMastermindSite has assessed twenty-one different goalkeepers who have made more than twelve appearances this season in the twenty-four matches up to this point. We won’t take into consideration the likes of Robin Olsen, Kepa Arrizabalaga, and Dean Henderson, although these players can provide useful comparisons and will be included in the final table, having each made more than three appearances this season. With that, here are the top five best and worst goalkeepers by saves per goal conceded this season.


Embed from Getty Images

When comparing all twenty-one goalkeepers who have made twelve+ appearances in the league through twenty-four Premier League matchdays, these are the five players who have the worst saves per goal percentage.

5. vincente guaita – 1.79
Embed from Getty Images

Vincente Guaita started the season very well at Palace, but the Eagles have had a tough time keeping the ball out of the back of the net as of late, partially contributing to Guaita’s place on this list. The Palace goalkeeper has conceded forty-two goals this season, and saved seventy-five. It’s not a terrible ratio, but it certainly doesn’t compare well to other keepers in the division. For example, Emiliano Martinez has made nearly ten saves more, and well, I’m sure you can guess which list the Argentinean’s going to end up being part of. As far as Guaita goes, it’s important to note that Palace’s defense hasn’t been brilliant in recent weeks and their normally resilient 4-4-2 defensive structure has been exposed time and time again. Guaita’s recent performances haven’t been spectacular either and Roy Hodgson’s team look to be hitting a bit of a slump in their season.

4. rui patricio – 1.59
Embed from Getty Images

Since Jimenez’s injury in particular, Wolves have struggled massively in defense. They’ve constantly shifted systems and shapes to the detriment and confusion of their players, and they’ve consistently conceded from set-pieces and penalties. Rui Patricio cannot necessarily be faulted for their defensive struggles alone, but he hasn’t been a massive help in their quest to climb back up the table. The thirty-two year old has saved fifty-one shots and conceded thirty-two in total. Many sides in the league who have faced a similar amount of shots have conceded far fewer goals, such as Burnley and their keeper Nick Pope, or Aston Villa with Emiliano Martinez. The Portuguese’s recent form doesn’t necessarily warrant an omission from the side, but it doesn’t boast well for his future at the club and Wolves’ ability to finish in the top ten this season.

3. alex mccarthy – 1.59
Embed from Getty Images

Perhaps the most surprising name on the list, Alex McCarthy had a great start to the season but has since suffered at the hands of a heavy 9-0 defeat and injuries to Jannik Vestergaard and Oriol Romeu. Given the outrageous circumstances associated with McCarthy’s stat, this is one that could correct itself by the end of the season. That said, the Southampton keeper still has a lot of work to do, having also conceded three to the likes of Arsenal and Newcastle in recent weeks. In total, the former Palace man has conceded thirty-nine goals, stopping only sixty-two from going in. If the Manchester United game is taken out of the equation, McCarthy’s ratio is 1.87, which still puts him dangerously close to being part of this list. So although the injuries to Southampton’s key defensive contributors and the generally bad defending the Saints have had in recent weeks haven’t helped, McCarthy still hasn’t been up to what might be expected of a man in contention for a place in Gareth Southgate’s England.

2. david de gea – 1.54
Embed from Getty Images

David De Gea has been heavily criticized in recent weeks for his performances and looks a shadow of his former self. But it’s not JUST how it looks, it’s also how bad it actually is, with his dreadful saves per goal conceded ratio barely rising above 1.5. This is very worrying for Manchester United fans, as Dean Henderson’s performances have been good enough to merit a place in the side, and De Gea’s performances have been bad enough that they’ve cost the Red Devils crucial points this season. The Spaniard’s made forty-three saves, conceding twenty-eight goals in the process. For comparison, Fulham’s Areola has only conceded twenty-eight, yet he’s made nearly double the amount of saves as Dea Gea – seventy-nine in total. What’s more is that Manchester United have been relatively okay defensively and many of the goals have been partially down to his individual errors. Dean Henderson has only made three Premier League appearances, but his saves per goal ratio would put him joint-top in the league if he were eligible (3.67). The stats would suggest that David De Gea should be dropped by Ole Gunnar Solskjaer at this point, but unfortunately for United fans, this looks unlikely to happen this season.

1. mat ryan – 1.15
Embed from Getty Images

To the surprise of no one, Mat Ryan completes the list as the worst goalkeeper in the league this season when measured by saves per goal conceded. The Australian international had a torrid start to 2020-21 at Brighton, conceding nineteen goals and only saving thirteen. That would have given him a shocking saves per goal ratio of 0.69! Not only was that the lowest the league has seen since this stat started being compiled, but it was costing Brighton crucial points. Robert Sanchez came into the side after matchday eleven, and has done exceptionally well since nailing down a starting position. Luckily for Mat Ryan, he’s made a surprise move to Arsenal and made seven saves in his first match. This has helped increase his ratio back above one, to now be a slightly less embarrassing 1.15. This is encouraging for Arsenal and Ryan personally, but his start to the season could unfortunately mean he never plays for the Seagulls again.

5. best

Embed from Getty Images

When comparing all twenty-one goalkeepers who have made twelve+ appearances in the league through twenty-four Premier League matchdays, these are the five players who have the worst saves per goal percentage.

5. hugo lloris – 2.84
Embed from Getty Images

Criticized at times for his performances this season and evidently not at his all-time best, but Hugo Lloris has statistically been very good this season. Tottenham made an exceptional start to the season and Lloris looked confident and comfortable in goal throughout that run of form. Even in that time that they were keeping a lot of clean sheets, Spurs were still giving away a fair amount of shots for Lloris to clean up. His personal form has been dropping significantly as of late, alongside his confidence. But the Frenchman still scrapes onto this list, having made seventy-one saves, and only conceded twenty-five goals. This means he narrowly edges out Fulham’s fantastic keeper Alphonse Areola (2.82). Hugo Lloris may be on the decline, but the stats still have him right up there amongst the very best goalkeepers in the league.

4. ederson moraes – 2.85
Embed from Getty Images

Manchester City keep so much of the ball that Ederson doesn’t tend to have too many saves to make, but the Brazilian keeper always looks up to the task when he’s called upon. Ederson is having an exceptional season, benefiting from greater solidity in the back-four with the likes of Ruben Dias and Joao Cancelo. The Man City man has kept the most clean sheets in the league (fourteen), while only conceding just thirteen goals in his twenty-two league appearances. Futher, despite the solidity of City’s back-line, he’s faced some very difficult shots and has needed to pull off some fantastic saves. In total, the Brazilian’s kept the ball out of the back of the net through thirty-seven saves, again conceding just thirteen goals. Even despite the immaculate exploits of the three keepers ahead of him on this list, it would be hard to keep him out of the team of the year if City win the league.

Embed from Getty Images

After Mat Ryan’s poor start to the season, the Seagulls desperately needed a response from Robert Sanchez. And boy did he deliver. The Spanish keeper has made thirty-five saves in his thirteen matches so far, conceding just eleven goals. When it comes to goals conceded per game, only Ederson has a better record in the league. It is genuinely possible that Mat Ryan was facing shots that were far more difficult to save than Sanchez, but the fact that the step from Ryan to Sanchez is this big speaks volumes to the Spaniard’s play so far and his future at the club. Brighton have also improved defensively and the structures ahead of him have become more compact, but it’s hard to take any credit away from the keeper’s recent form.

Embed from Getty Images

Arguably the very best goalkeeper in the league this season, Emiliano Martinez has been the best signing Aston Villa could have hoped for. The Villa keeper has saved the fourth most amount of shots in the entire league, with eighty-four, but has only conceded twenty-four goals in his twenty-two matches. Villa face a fair amount of shots outside the box, that part is true, while they have also improved defensively with the signing of Matty Cash and improvement of the other three regulars in the back-four. But you cannot take anything away from the stellar form of Martinez so far. All of the other keepers in the league who have faced a similar amount of shots are well within the bottom half of the table, but Martinez has managed to keep his side in the top ten throughout the season, despite having several games in hand at certain stages. Just imagine if they had him at the club last season. The goalkeeper ahead of him on this list has also been brilliant, but it would be very hard to argue that Emiliano Martinez hasn’t been the best goalkeeper in the league this season.

1. NICK POPE – 3.67
Embed from Getty Images

Shot-stopping specialist Nick Pope has been one of the best of the art since he broke onto the scene in 2017 as a twenty-five year old. Ever since replacing the injured Tom Heaton that season, he’s maintained his place in goal and continues to be one of the best goalkeepers in the country. Pope has been a massive influence on keeping Burnley in the league over the past few seasons and is certainly leading their charge again in 2020-21. The British goalkeeper has made eighty-eight saves, conceding just twenty-four goals. Although Burnley have a solid defense and the Tarkowski-Mee partnership is one of the better centre-half pairings in the league, Pope has transformed from a back-up into the star of this team and is making a serious claim to be England’s starting goalkeeper at this summer’s European Championships.

full table

Embed from Getty Images

*Including all goalkeepers to make 3+ appearances in the league.

1Nick Pope3.678824
N/ADean Henderson 3.67113
2Emiliano Martinez3.58424
3Robert Sanchez3.183511
4Ederson Moraes2.853713
5Hugo Lloris2.847125
6Alphonse Areola2.827928
7Kasper Schmiechel2.506526
8Bernd Leno2.385724
9Lukasz Fabianski2.326528
10Edouard Mendy2.273415
11Jordan Pickford2.144722
12Karl Darlow2.108440
13Illan Meslier2.098641
14Aaron Ramsdale2.058039
N/AKepa Arrizabalga2.00126
15Alisson Becker1.874122
16Sam Johnstone1.849853
17Vincente Guaita 1.797542
N/ARobin Olsen1.62138
18Rui Patrico1.595132
19Alex McCarthy1.596239
20David De Gea1.544328
21Mat Ryan1.152320

So there it is! An analysis of all the league’s goalkeepers by saves per goal, establishing the five best and worst in the league. Who do you think is misrepresented by the stats? Who do you think has been better or worse than their numbers suggest? Be sure to share your thoughts on Twitter @mastermindsite or in the comments below. Thanks for reading and see you soon!

You might also enjoy…
-> West Ham United – 4-2-3-1 – Tactical Analysis (2020-21)
-> Why Aston Villa Will Qualify for Europe this Season – Tactical Analysis
-> Carlo Ancelotti – Everton – Tactical Analysis
-> Liverpool’s Tactical Concerns (2020-21) – TMS Podcast


7 thoughts on “The 5 Best & Worst Premier League Goalkeepers by Saves per Goal (2020-21 Edition)

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s