The Data Behind The Premier League Save Of The Month Nominees

By Sam Hudspith,Dr John Harrison, PhD

News • Jan 28, 2023

The Data Behind The Premier League Save Of The Month Nominees

Of the nominees for the Premier League Save of the Month, only one drew an Expected Save Probability of less than at least half.  

In the summer of 2022, we questioned what really makes a ‘camera save’.

The reason for doing this stemmed from the Premier League's Save of the Month for August 2022. Of the eight goalkeepers nominated, only two of them made it into our top eight saves of the month based on Goalkeeper-xG data

The winner then was Nick Pope, whose denial of Adam Lallana's bouncing header in a 0-0 draw at the Amex recorded an expected save percentage of only 16%. 

And, of the nominees for January, the winner should be clear. Although not yet announced, the expected save probability difference between the first and second places nominees from the Premier League (but ranked by Goalkeeper-xG data) is a huge 43%. 

In second, David De Gea's save against Crystal Palace on January 18th came in at a 57% expected save probability. Emiliano Martinez' close range stop from Jack Harrison in the meeting between Aston Villa and Leeds United earlier that week drew an expected save percentage of just 14%. 

The thing is, every save listed in the Premier League's nomination list was, clearly, a good save. However, data tells us that their comparative difficulties, based on the unique Goalkeeper-xG formula (taking into account more variables than any mainstream provider), were essentially the equivalent of saves that an average Premier League goalkeeper would be expected to make at least half of the time.

In fact, Kepa's flying top hand save against Crystal Palace clocked in at a 72% expected save probability; at a basic level, it was struck rather centrally and from difference, which means that most of the time, the mathematically ‘average’ Premier League goalkeeper saves that shot. 

Interestingly, January seemed to be a month where Crystal Palace came up against a plethora of fine goalkeeping performances. They feature as the antagonists in three of the six videos. 

But the most important point that should be made is that an expected save probability of, say, 59% in the case of Nick Pope's tremendous reflex save for Newcastle against Crystal Palace, doesn't take credit from the goalkeeper. In fact, it serves to highlight just how high a level of goalkeeping there is at an elite level. 

If over half of the time, an average Premier League goalkeeper is making a save which requires that physical and mental ability, then it just goes to show how good an individual needs to be to hold the number one shirt in top flight football.

The full list of saves by expected save probability can be found below:

  • Emi Martinez 14% ExSave
  • David De Gea 57% ExSave
  • Nick Pope 59% ExSave
  • Aaron Ramsdale 61% ExSave
  • Lukasz Fabianski 62% ExSave
  • Kepa Arrizabalaga 72% ExSave 

Goalkeeper-xG are open to taking on new clients. To work with Dr John Harrison and put the most advanced goalkeeper analytical models to date behind your club's goalkeeping department, get in touch via [email protected]

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