Friday, 11 March 2016

Are there goalkeeping problems in the City of Discovery?

I recently wrote a blog about how Celtic had been performing this seasonand a small part of it focused on Craig Gordon. It turned out that the Hoops goalkeeper had the third highest save percentage in the division at the time of writing, behind only Aberdeen’s Scott Brown/Danny Ward combination and Neil Alexander of Hearts:
A throwaway sentence within that piece sparked a Twitter exchange that found its way to Dundee goalkeeper Scott Bain, a comment he has since deleted. He was understandably unhappy at being called out for having the second lowest save percentage in the league.
Funnily enough Bain has just been called up to the Scotland squad for the friendly with Czech Republic thanks to his performances this season. He could even make his debut this time, having not featured when last involved with the squad in May 2015.
I should start by saying that I think goalkeeper is one of the hardest positions to analyse. Using statistics to judge players is still in its relative infancy and it can be difficult to know which statistics are useful and which aren’t. Indeed, goalkeepers often have so few interactions that their individual data sets are quite small.
Key elements of being a goalkeeper such as organising the defence, commanding the box, sweeping behind the back line and judgement when catching or punching crosses are hard things to rate. The analytics community often decries this, but at times these so-called intangibles can be just as important as the performance elements that can be measured more easily.

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