Gareth Southgate's England goalkeeper dilemma at World Cup in Russia analysed with stats
By Keith James
Last Updated: 17/05/18 2:00pm
Gareth Southgate has chosen his three 'keepers for the World Cup finals but who should he give the No 1 jersey to - Jack Butland, Jordan Pickford or Nick Pope?
New research from GK1 has considered every single save, every goal conceded and the distribution by all Premier League's goalkeepers in 2017/18.
Some 30,000 events under the microscope to help make Gareth's choice easier. So who should he choose?
Let's look at shot-stopping. These figures consider shot difficulty and save quality - then every save is rated between zero and 100 per cent.
A 'worldie' could receive a 100 per cent rating. Letting in a 'sitter' could receive just one per cent.
With all this season's saves evaluated, Burnley 'keeper Nick Pope rates the highest - as the graph below shows, with English 'keepers in blue.
He's over two per cent above the average in terms of save quality. Jordan Pickford rates second highest, with Jack Butland coming in third.
Graph two looks at how often our 'keepers make a mistake when saving shots.
As you can see, Kasper Schmeichel, for example, is one of the strongest in terms of pulling off a world-class save... but he's some way below average for consistency.
As far as England's 'keepers are concerned, once again, Nick Pope rates the highest - both in terms of quality of saves and consistency of performance when shot-stopping.
Butland is slightly less consistent, with Pickford the weakest of Southgate's chosen three.
Now looking at distribution on graph three, below, and Pep Guardiola will tell you how important it is for a 'keeper to be comfortable in possession.
So there is no surprise to see Ederson top of the pile here. Sadly, none of England's stoppers rate highly in this category.
Remember these figures consider accuracy - but also whether the keeper was under pressure - and the number of opponents bypassed. Then each distribution has been rated between zero and 100 per cent.
This is key for Southgate, who wants a 'keeper who can play from the back. And that's good news for Jordan Pickford, who comes out on top. Jack Butland may want to look away now.
Graph four, below, considers average quality and consistency of goal kicks, open play with feet, throwing, kicking from hands and sweeping.
In terms of consistency, Pope is the most consistent, with Jordan Pickford's figures again less strong.
One very unlucky player is Nick Pope's Burnley team-mate Tom Heaton - only just back from injury and a player we know Gareth Southgate likes. That's why he's been added to his five standby players.
And when all the figures have been calculated, analysed and digested - the recommendation for Gareth Southgate's World Cup No 1 would be Jordan Pickford. Nick Pope is second, ahead of Jack Butland in third.
We know how highly Southgate factors distribution and Pickford is the strongest in that category. Pope is far more likely to clear over a distance rather than try to keep possession in his third of the pitch.
Butland's one of the most stylish keepers and rated well on shot-stopping - but consistency of distribution let him down.
Whether Gareth Southgate and his goalkeeping coach Martyn Margetson take any notice of these extraordinary stats, we may be able to tell when England take to the field against Tunisia on June 18.
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