Hart and Soul

Hart and Soul

Joe Hart dives to his right, makes the stop on DeLaGarza of the LA Galaxy, immediately grabs the ball, places it on the penalty spot, calmly strokes it in to the top right corner, and wins the game for City.

OK maybe this is against an MLS team in preseason, but the point still stands: Joe Hart is good. He’s one of the best at his position, playing all 38 games for City last season. Exactly how good is he though? How does he stack up against the rest of the EPL keepers?

To measure this, I am only looking at a few keepers. It’s not necessarily fair to compare Hart to a keeper who played for a relegated club. Because of this, I’ll only look at Hart compared to the keepers who played the most minutes for the top 5 clubs this past season. Some data is below.

Hart and Cech are the only keepers in the group to reach the 3420 minutes played. The ability to play every minute of every game is a huge positive in my mind. It suggests durability and a weekly confidence by the team and manager in the keeper.  Van der Sar and Gomes were both relatively close playing the majority of the matches for their clubs. Szczesny is obviously a little farther behind.

Obviously we can’t just look at goals against because these keepers played varying amounts of minutes. The better statistic to look at is minutes per goals against. Cech and Hart are best in this regard, letting in a goal every 104 minutes on average.  Szczesny is the worst, letting in a goal every 71 minutes. How do we know Hart simply benefits from playing for a club with better defense? One way to check is by looking at saves. Hart had to make the most saves, meaning he made a save every 61 minutes, the second most frequent. Hart also had the highest clean sheet percentage (what percent of the time did he record a clean sheet) at 47.4%. This data confirms a couple things most people already believe: Hart is one of the best, and Arsenal has some keeper problems.

An additional note: Hart was the least accurate with his goal kicks. Most managers wouldn’t bench their goalie due to goal kick inaccuracies, but its something to keep in mind at least.

I count my blessings City doesn’t have a keeper problem. Hart is not just a decent keeper on a top team who benefits from strong defending; He is a world class keeper on a top team.