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Home   /   Who should be @England’s goalkeeper at the 2022 World Cup in Qatar? #ThreeLions

Who should be England’s goalkeeper at the 2022 World Cup in Qatar? 

The 2022 World Cup is emerging and there are many debates on who should be England’s number one. The obvious favourite is Jordan Pickford, he has performed excellently at the last World Cup in 2018 and at Euro 2020. Pickford’s penalty save against Colombia made him the first England goalkeeper to save a penalty in a penalty shoot-out at a major tournament since David Seaman at World Cup 1998 against Argentina (OptaJoe twitter, 2018). He then went onto save two penalties in the final of Euro 2020 against Italy, but it was not enough to seal a victory for the three lions. As per Opta statistics, Pickford has 43 England caps. In that time he has kept 20 clean sheets and not made one error leading directly to goal, repaying Gareth Southgate’s loyalty.

After analysing statistics from the Premier League the debate widens. The statistics analysed are from the Premier League so far this season at the time of writing, March 17th, gameweek 29. The preferred three goalkeeper’s, if all fit and injury free, are Jordan Pickford, Nick Pope and Aaron Ramsdale. They have all made 24 appearances for their respective clubs, but Pickford and Pope have played one extra. 

Official Premier League data is collected and analysed by OPTA, part of Stats Perform (Premier League, 2022). The data is collected by a three-person team covering each match, consisting of two analysts who use a video-based collection system to gather information every time a player touches the ball and a quality control analyst that can rewind the video collection frame-by-frame to ensure the information is as precise and consistent as possible. All the data captured is then subject to an exhaustive post-match check to ensure accuracy (Premier League, 2022). 

When looking at statistics for goalkeepers at face value you want to know two things; clean sheets and goals conceded. Ramsdale wins this comparison with 12 clean sheets, five more than Pope and three times as many as Pickford. Not only does Ramsdale have the most clean sheets, but he has conceded the least amount of goals with 19, Pope conceding 32 and Pickford conceding over twice as many as Ramdale with 40 goals conceded. However, it is difficult to look purely at statistics on this front because this is due to the team they play for. Arsenal are currently in 4th, frontrunners to secure the final spot for Champions League football, whilst Everton are in 17th and Burnley 19th. Therefore, a more in-depth analysis of statistics is required to come to a justified conclusion.

England like to play out from the back with the ball working their way up the pitch using  progressive possession, but if the opportunity is on to play a long ball upto their forwards. In this sense, distribution from the goalkeeper is pivotal. Despite making the least amount of passes forward, Ramdale has the highest pass completion by over 13%, both Pope and Pickford have less than 50% pass completion. This is a key attribute that should be taken into contention leading into the World Cup. The ability to maintain possession is an important part to England’s style of play. 

Breaking down the statistic further, when it comes to short passing and sideways passes completed, Ramsdale has a total of 569. Pickford has 319 whilst Pope has a very small total of 89. In this sense Pope’s distribution and part in progressive progression by playing out from the defence does not fit the bill based on statistics. Ramsdale also has the most touches, just shy of 1000 so far this season, proving that he is confident to receive the ball to feet. 

After analysing the distribution statistics with the ball at their feet, Ramsdale was a clear winner but he also had the most successful throwouts proving that he has the ability to use his hands and get the ball moving quickly. 

Pickford and Pope have both made one error leading to a goal this season. Although this is just one error across more than half a season, this could be the difference in England picking up points in the group stage or progressing through a knockout stage at the tournament. Ramsdale is the only keeper that hasn’t made an error leading to a goal this season. 

Below is a comparison infographic statistics from Aaron Ramsdale and Jordan Pickford so far in the 2021/22 Premier League season using canvas.com. Penalties and own goals were removed from these statistics.

As you can see the first statistic is goals conceded which has already been covered and has a staggering difference in Ramsdale’s favour. The next two statistics are very important when analysing goalkeeping performance. When looking at the expected goals on target and goals prevented metrics you can see which goalkeeper is saving above expected. Despite having much lower expected goals on target, Ramsdale has prevented more goals (3.3). This metric ranks Ramsdale in third behind David De Gea and Jose Sa, meaning that he has prevented more goals than he should have, whilst Pickford is ranked in ninth with 0.6, ahead of Hugo Lloris whose goals prevented goes into the minus.

You can further analyse this statistic by looking below at the amount of saves made and the save percentage. Although Ramsdale has made less saves, 66 compared to Pickford’s 83, his save percentage is higher by over 13%. Ramsdale’s save percentage is 78.7, whilst Pickford’s is 65. It’s clear that Ramsdale has had a much better season than Pickford since Euro 2020, outperforming himself by saving more shots faced and conceding less goals than expected. 

Based on statistics, it is clear that Aaron Ramsdale should be England’s number one at the World Cup in 2022. He wins the most important stats.Why would you choose to go for a different option when Ramsdale has conceded the least amount of goals, has the biggest save percentage, the most clean sheets and is confident with the ball at his feet? 

The only reason for Ramsdale to miss out as England’s number one, would be because Southgate remains with the goalkeeper that has performed superbly at the two previous tournaments, Jordan Pickford. For some reason, regardless of club form, he seems to step up and turn into the best version of himself when he puts on an England shirt. However, I think there is a very strong case for Ramsdale to be given the opportunity to stamp his mark on international football at the upcoming World Cup in Qatar. 

References

Opta, J. (2018) 3 July. https://twitter.com/OptaJoe. Date accessed 16/03/22. 

Premierleague.com (2022). ‘Player Comparison’. March 2022, https://www.premierleague.com/stats/player-comparison. Date accessed 17/03/22. 

Premierleague.com (2022). ‘Statistics Explained’. March 2022, https://www.premierleague.com/stats/clarification. Date accessed 16/03/22.

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