Premier League 2018/19: Goalkeepers in for a record Season
Goalkeepers play a very important role if a club aims to win titles consistently which can be clearly seen from the performances of some top sides. Be it Marc-André ter Stegen for Barcelona or Ederson for Manchester City or Gigi Buffon among others, all have played a massive role in their sides' title-winning campaigns.
It seems like the clubs in Premier League have taken note of what happened in the last year's Champions League final (Liverpool missing out the trophy due to goalkeeping howlers) as they have started investing heavily in their quest to find the best man to guard their goal, including Jurgen Klopp's side.
This was the year when goalkeepers finally started getting their due recognition (monetarily) with the top flight clubs in England breaking the transfer record, not once, but twice in the same window.
A record which stood for 16 long years before being broken by City last year when they brought in Ederson (though Buffon's was higher in euros) was broken first by Liverpoo.
Te Reds in their quest to find a top goalkeeper brought Alisson Becker for a reported fee of £67m from AS Roma, only for it to be broken in less than a month by Chelsea when they spent £72m to get Kepa in the final week of the Premier League transfer window.
What's the Story?
With every passing season, Premier League strikers are getting more and more accurate with their penalty kicks. However, the increased investment in top-class goalkeepers has ensured the shot stoppers raise their bar a step ahead as they are well on course for having the best season in face of spot kicks.
Four gameweeks have already passed and the Premier League goalkeepers look determined to break last year's record penalty save of 26.3% having saved 35.7 percent of penalty kicks this season.
The interesting fact is, none out of the 14 spot-kicks taken this season were off target, clearly highlighting how well the goalkeepers have performed.
Heart of the Matter
As much as the penalty takers are trying to shoot on-target from the penalty spot, they are placing too many balls within the reach of goalkeepers which is resulting in this decrease in the number of penalty kicks being converted into a goal.
The rise in goalkeepers' standards can also be judged from the fact that five penalties saved by the end of gameweek 4 in the current campaign are just two short of the total 7 in the entire season of 1997/98 out of 72 penalties that were taken.
Burnley's Joe Hart, Wayne Hennessey of Crystal Palace & Fulham's Marcus Bettinelli have all successfully been able to save one penalty each. While Neil Etheridge, the Cardiff City goalkeeper, has been a step ahead having saved two penalties in the season already.
Did you know?
The least number of penalty misses were in the season 2003/04 & 2009/10 where only two spot kicks were placed wide and in both the seasons the percentage of the penalty save was over 20 (20.2% in 2003/04 & 20.7% in 2009/10).
On contrary to it, save percentage dropped down to 13.3% in 2010/11 when as many as 10 penalty kicks were off-target.
The overall penalty saves percentage across all seasons of Premier League is 17.7% (including current season) with 407 saves from a whopping 2296 penalties taken.
(Note: All stats have been obtained from premierleague.com and manipulation has been done to support the article)