Championship Goalkeepers. Who’s the best so far?

With the biting winds of winter beginning to set in and families up and down the land beginning preparations for the festive shenanigans that this time of year brings, so too does it bring the football calendar’s half-way mark. By now we are starting to get a decent idea of what make each team tick, where their weaknesses are and who their standout performers are. Collectively, the Toon Army would probably single out your Dwight Gayle’s, Matt Ritchie’s and Jonjo Shelvey’s as being the biggest contributors to our success so far – but defensive players often get overlooked. Today we take a good look at the Championship’s goalkeeping roster and work out just how good – or indeed how bad our very own Karl Darlow and Matz Sels fare when compared to the best of the rest.

Due to the inevitable injuries and suspensions that the grueling Championship schedule inflicts on teams dreaming of promotions and fairy-tale Cup runs, some sides have regularly featured their back up goalkeepers. As a result, despite this being a 24-team league, this comparison will feature a blog record breaking 29 individuals vying for a position at the pinnacle of the conclusion to Shamrock’s Scrutiny Study.

Now for the rules: The 29 players will be pitted against each other in 9 fields relevant to the position they play. The stats are based on their average 90 minutes played thus far. The top 10 in each field will be awarded points (10 for first, 9 for second and so on). The total scores will be calculated at the end and then each player will be have their chance to run to their employers clenching this report in their hand whilst waving it aloft triumphantly demanding a pay rise……or they’ll stand on the spot dismayed beyond belief waiting for the ground to swallow them up even more than David Seaman did that time when Ronaldinho caught him off guard from about 670 yards…Lets get started then.

Successful Punches:
Joint 9th is taken by Cardiff’s stopper Ben Amos and Huddersfield’s Danny Ward (0.67). Joint 7th is Preston’s Lindegaard and Burton’s McLaughlin (0.71). 0.72 earns Norwich’s McGovern 6th spot, whilst 5th place is awarded to Birmingham’s Kuszczak. Brighton’s Stockdale is in 4th with 0.79. The podium positions go to Villa’s Pierluigi Gollini (0.97), Reading’s Al-Habsi (1.0) and the Toon’s very own Karl Darlow (1.22).

Catching:
1 point for Ipswich man Bialkowski (2.82), 2 points for Canary Jon Ruddy (2.86). 2.88 earns joint 4 points each for Al-Habsi and Kuszczak. 3 catches per 90 see’s Stockdale take 5 points. Derby’s Scott Carson (3.18) earns 6 points, Brentford’s very own Bentley takes 7 points (3.29) and Stojkovic of Nott’s Forest earns 8 points with 3.54. That leaves a top two of 3.72 and an impressive 4.15 claimed by Rotherham’s Lee Camp and Barnsley’s Adam Davies respectively.

Pass Completion (by foot):
54% and joint 9th for Bristol’s O’Donnell and Derby’s Carson. Wigan’s Bogdan takes 8th with 55% and 7th spot goes to Norwich’s McGovern with 56%. Huddersfield’s Ward is next up on 60% whilst joint 4th (61%) is shared by Fulham’s Button and Brighton’s Stockdale. Karl Darlow (62%), Matz Sels (66%) and Al-Habsi (a mighty 78%) complete the top three.

Clearances:
Darlow is getting into his stride now with a second first placed finish on 0.89. O’Donnell (0.75) and Lindegard (0.71) complete the triumphant triumvirate. QPR’S Alex Smithies claims 4th on 0.67 and then there is a drop off with Jon Ruddy trailing on 0.57. Joint 6th on 0.54 is taken by Davies and Stojkovic. Scott Carson is in 8th (0.53) leaving the Burton’s McLaughlin (0.50) and Brentford’s Daniel Bentley (0.41) to claim the final points.

Clean Sheets:
First is 0.57 and 10th is 0.29. Order as follows: 1 – Stockdale (Brighton), 2 – Carson (Derby), =3 – Sels & Darlow (Toon 0.44), =5 – Bentley (Rotherham) & Bialkowski (Ipswich), 7 – Davies (Barnsley), 8 – Westwood (Sheff Wed), 9 – Fielding (Bristol City), =10 – Lindegaard (Preston) & Green (Leeds).

Fatal Errors (Mistakes directly leading to a goal. For this the worst offenders lose points):
-1 point for Stockdale (0.07), -2 points for Stojkovic (0.08), -3 for Ward (0.11), -6 (0.12) for O’Donnell, Kuszczak & Green), -7 points for Davies of Barnsley (0.15), -8 for McGovern (0.16) and Wolves’ Lonergan takes -9 points (0.29). Cardiff’s Ben Wilson hang your head in shame! Shame! Shame! (0.33 and -10 points).

Interceptions:
Burton’s McLaughlin takes top spot with 0.21. Second for Forest’s Stojkovic on 0.15. Top three completed by Brighton’s Stockdale on 0.14. 4th place for Al-Habsi (0.12), leaving McGovern in 5th on 0.08. Sixth is awarded to both Westwood of Sheffield Wednesday and Button (0.07). 4 players get in on the 3 points action that 8th place brings (0.06). They are: Bentley, Smithies, Bialkowski & Rob Green.

Distribution (Including throws and goal kicks):
Darlow just makes the Top 10 with 56%. Two players (57%) share 8th: Stockdale & Kuszczak. A further two players in Huddersfield’s Ward & Barnsley’s Davies share sixth spot with 59%. 62% earns three players 8 points each. Well done to Wigan’s Bogdan, Norwich’s McGovern & Newcastle’s Sels. Second spot goes to Fulham’s David Button (64%), but top dog here is Reading keeper Al-Habsi on 79%.

Saves-per-goal:
Preston’s Chris Maxwell (2.33) gets a point. Two points (2.38) for Villa’s Gollini and three points for Wolves’ Lonergan (2.4). Four points now for Bristol’s Fielding and five points awarded to Bentley (2.72). Six points earnt by Sels (2.83) and a 7-pointer for Scott Carson (3.17). Third place for the consistent Al-Habsi (3.58) and second spot for Stockdale (3.56). Bossing it up top is Birmingham’s Kuszczak on 4.13.

The Hall of Shame! Shame! Shame!

1) Ben Wilson (Cardiff). -10 Points.
2) Andy Lonergan (Wolves). -5 Points.
3) Rob Green (Leeds Utd). -2 Points.
4) Jason Steele (Blackburn). 0 Points.

The Championship Top Dogs:

1) Ali Al-Habsi (Reading). 48 Points.
2) Robbie Stockdale (Brighton). 47 Points.
3) Karl Darlow (Newcastle Utd). 37 Points.
4) Matz Sels (Newcastle Utd). 31 Points.
5) Scott Carson (Derby County). 26 Points.
6) Daniel Bentley (Brentford). 22 Points.
7) David Button (Fulham). 21 Points.
8) Vladimir Stojković (Notts Forest). 20 Points.
=9) Tamas Kuszczak (Birmingham City). 17 Points.
=9) Adam Davies (Barnsley). 17 Points.

Summary:
It’s reassuring to see that both of Newcastle’s available senior goalkeepers feature in the League’s Top 4. It’s clear that Sels has been struggling with the high balls. His punching was suspect from day 1, however he is strong at shot stopping and distribution. Darlow again is pretty steady across the board and is strong with his command of the 6-yard box. All in all though, there is not a lot to chose between the two. Where Darlow has extensive Championship experience, Sels in new to the Country and maybe he just needs time to adapt. My gut feeling is that he will not prosper in a Toon shirt though. Both Al-Habsi and Stockdale perform well in almost all areas and one could argue they are Premier League class. Our two keepers have time on their side, but will they be at that level by the end of the season, ready for the challenge of the Premiership come August 2017? Or will Tim Krul or Rob Elliott reclaim the Number 1 shirt and leave our Championship stalwarts sitting in the shadows? Personally I’d trade them all in for a new Shay Given!

Shamrock.

About Shamrock

Like everyone here, support Newcastle United. Not the easiest side to feel good about at times, but it's our side!

36 thoughts on “Championship Goalkeepers. Who’s the best so far?

  1. Sham, that’s bloody ruddy brilliant. It doesn’t surprise me that Al Habsi is top actually – a lot of people scoffed at me when I said we should sign him in the summer, was always very impressed with him when he was at Reading.

    Rob Green’s record for errors of course is terrible (which I’m sure we alluded to after the Leeds game) and on the topic of Darlow, I like him. Had a bit of a baptism of fire last season against the Baggies but is still only 26 which for an outfield player is like being 21/22.

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  2. one thing i will say on Sels i think he could of held that shot instead of pushing it out which he has also done in the past now thats not because hes not used to the lge its basic bad goalkeeping,surely in training you practice holding on to the ball whenever the area the balls played into

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  3. Cheers Sham great little breakdown there. It’s hard to see any of our keepers being our long term future really, especially as Krul doesn’t seem fussed on staying. Sels and Darlow are decent but will either ever be top 10 prem keepers? I think Elliot was an absolute steal for the price we got him at and he’s better than the other two and in some ways even better than Krul, but he’s not a long term answer…

    We seem to have built ourselves a difficult situation getting a lot of solid keepers but nobody who really shines. We have a similar situation at centre back now, but whereas I think all of those have good potential especially Lascelles and Mbemba, I’m just not sure on the keepers.

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  4. Ice – agreed, or put it out for a corner at least. Palming it to snodgrass was really poor, but the whole team switched off after we scored, and half our team tried and failed to hassle them off the ball, so I find it hard to blame Sels alone.

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  5. its just like SHAM he always gets his stats and facts spot on when he does a thread and makes good reading imo which can spark a good debate and thats what the blog is all about

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  6. I don’t trust Sels at all and last night’s gaff was no surprise. I don’t mind us going out really but will be royally pissed off if we lose again on Friday.
    Rafa said they hadn’t practised penalties because game time is totally different. Not practising anything else then Rafa?

    Looks like we’re losing Cathro to Hearts . . .

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  7. As frustrating as sels appears to be, you could argue that the only stats that matter are clean sheets, saves to goals conceded ratio and passing success. He saves more shots than Darlow does before conceding and although Darlow outperforms Selz in both catching and punching, he gives the ball away 6% more often to the opposition than Sels does.

    So whilst Sels invites pressure on his goal by failing to deal with crosses and high balls, Darlow invites pressure with poor distribution. The single stat that stands out for me, is how often they keep a clean sheet and it is striking that they are tied on an average of 0.44 per game having played 9 games each this season.

    Regardless of their individual strengths and weaknesses, one is no more effective than the other when it comes down to it – and in my opinion we could do better in that position.

    Cheers for the positive comments everyone. I won’t be writing often anymore, as you have noticed no doubt, but will still chip in where I can.

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  8. Darlow is a decent keeper. John Anderson said that he’s not in the same league as Given, when someone suggested it on the radio. Given was poor in some areas, like kicking and coming for crosses in my opinion, there is more to being a ‘keeper than just shotstopping. Hopefully Darlow is back at his old stomping ground on Friday. Elliot is back also so I think that’s the last we might see of Sels. Harsh perhaps but that’s football and the guy has just not been convincing. Darlow has made an effort to be commanding and make decisions because he must see that as Sels weakness. When Darlow first played last season he used to flap a bit but I think this competition for places has made him a better player.

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  9. My last observation on the comparison between the two players is that when Sels was making his mistakes in the early part of the seaoson, he had an unsteady back 4 in front of him whilst Rafa experimented. When he has made his Cup appearances, he has had weakened defense in front of him. Darlow has benefited from having our best back 4 in front of him – so is the difference the goalkeeper’s ability, or who has been stood in front of them? Sels actually did well with the high balls yesterday and showed good anticipation, sweeping up through balls. His handling of the ball for the goal was concerning, but so was the whole team’s reaction to going 1 up (not for the first time this season either). Against blackburn, I felt Darlow kept pumping long balls, upsetting our natural game and for the goal, although it was a mistake by the defenders to allow the shot – the shot itself was pretty slow and central. His job is to anticipate his defenders f”’ing up and react – and he switched off imo.

    For that reason and a few other examples this season, I don’t trust him and I can’t see him as a Premier League #1. I can’t see it in Sels either. Next season I’d not be surprised to see a new keeper as #1, with one of these two as back up and the other sold on…

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  10. Shamrock I’m not an expert on goalkeeper’s but Sel’s cost a lot of money. 5 million is expensive for a goalkeeper. I do believe Sel’s was a Graham Carr signing. I don’t know why ? I can’t believe out of all the goalkeeper’s out there Rafa would be stupid enough to pick him. Rafa get’s the main say on player’s but how much power has Carr got behind the scene’s ? I still have faith in Darlow but Al Habsi seem’s like the keeper we should of signed instead. Good read, very well written.

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  11. Shamrock – has it not occurred to you that the unsteady back four you mentioned was because they had Sels behind them, flapping at crosses (Villa particularly) and letting shots bounce back off him. I don’t think I remember him catching a ball at all and Lascelles was visibly complaining to Rafa about him.

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  12. Georgio, I mean personnel wise. Back then both Mbemba and Hanley were being given opportunities and Clarke was new to the side. We did not have a steady foundation in place and they will not have known eachothers game. I don’t think Sels is as bad as people make out, but I’m not exactly a fan either – not of him or Darlow.

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  13. Fair enough Sham. Still don’t like the guy as you will have guessed. You’re right abut Darlow and the kicking on Saturday but it was easy to see that Blackburn were pressing the hell out of his normal options for passes or roll outs and he did (supposedly) have an outlet in Mitro (if he’d been trying).

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  14. Great read Sham, the top 4 doesn’t surprise me it sums up why Brighton and Reading are doing well. Forest keeper rates high for interceptions and catches so we can’t expect much change from him on Friday night, we’ll have to hope the rest of the team , who unlike us will be well rested ; have a mare.
    Oh and in retrospect maybe we should of signed AL- Habsi .

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  15. Sham. I agree with you that we should look at the total effects of goalkeeping. Against Blackburn, I think I mentioned earlier, that Darlow kept kicking aimless highballs up field. I don’t think we won one header. The result being the ball was gifted nearly every time to Blackburn which allowed them to Initiate an attack putting unnecessary pressure on our defence. Having said that our defenders were guilty of passing back to Darlow far to often. There is something wrong when an outfield player cannot pass better than a goalkeeper. It is just too easy for an outfield player to dodge responsibility and pass back to the goalkeeper. It is also boring and frustrating for fans.

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  16. Sels 5/10, Darlow 7/10 Krul 7/10 Elliott 8/10. That’s how I currently rate our ‘keepers. I don’t use stats but I think you can use stats to make virtually any point you want, if you have enough of them. No stat would change my opinion of who I would play. It’s like when people say ‘We had 27 chances and should have won’. Then the other team go down the other end and score. There’s only one stat that matters and that’s sticking the ball in the net! Having 27 chances and only scoring once means you aren’t good enough. Rant over. 😀

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  17. So we could have got a money spinner home game against Man United if Rafa hadn’t played ‘£5m’ Sels. Let him go Rafa, he’s crap. You win some you lose some.

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  18. icedog:
    dont know what has happened to the gunners lately they have been right off

    Ice – 10 changes tonight mate. I think Wenger is a top manager, but I can also see why Gunners fans get angry with him like. What was their last silverware? and this was a real chance for them to win a trophy with the players they have!!.
    He should have went for this as he’s made a bit of a pigs arse with the CL group as well.

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  19. Sham – awesome article mate, you know I love these ones ?.

    Sels may score ok but he looks shaky and looks to lack confidence. I know it’s early days and he may come good, but I haven’t seen any reason why we got rid of Krul for this lad yet.
    Darlow is doing a decent job, but I like Elliott and would love to see him make a return. He’s not outstanding, but he’s good at all aspects of goalkeeping, which makes him our best option when he’s fit IMO.

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  20. Sharpy I agree with all of that. My only worry is such a long lay off and a bad injury could mean when Elliott returns, he has lost a bit of his reflex speed or pace off the line. If so, we could have a problem. He certainly communicates and reads the game better in any case.

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  21. Shamrock:
    Sharpy I agree with all of that. My only worry is such a long lay off and a bad injury could mean when Elliott returns, he has lost a bit of his reflex speed or pace off the line. If so, we could have a problem. He certainly communicates and reads the game better in any case.

    Sham – yeah it’s bound to have had an effect hasn’t it. Hopefully not too severe for his sake coz he has just reached the peak of his career and was first choice for club and country. Seems like an honest hard working lad, so hope he gets his chance again.

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  22. Just reading that if Palace let Pardew go, he’s in line for a £5m pay out ?. Not bad going for the worst points tally of 2016 like ????.

    Could be fat Sam who steps in as well.

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  23. georgio:
    What a surprise – I had Pulis down as an absolute honest angel

    you should know they are all bloody crooks mate,where there is big money about there are crooks

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  24. icedog:
    RANGER get 4 yr deal

    Ice – ? Southend will regret that mate. They’d have been better off giving him a rolling year contract based on performance & behaviour.
    Unless they have written something into his contract like.

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  25. Sharpy17: Ice – Southend will regret that mate.They’d have been better off giving him a rolling year contract based on performance & behaviour.
    Unless they have written something into his contract like.

    dead right there mate

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  26. Well he seems to have kept his head down and grafted at Southend, so I say fair play to him and good luck. I don’t hold grudges against anybody of previous bad character if they have shown sustained willing and worked to make themselves a better person. Now he has his contract, it will be a nervy year or two for Southend to see if he really is a new man – but they must have been satisfied by what they have seen up close these last few months.

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