Tim Howard’s injury in mid-season was a big blow for Everton, not only lacking in goalkeeping depth but also the fact that Joel Robles wasn’t a reliable keeper coming in at the time. However, it finally looks like Joel has started to make a impact for the Toffees. The Spaniard signed in July 2013, rejoining former boss Roberto Martinez, and it has taken a while for him to fit in. Robles was Everton’s cup goalkeeper last season, but unconvincing performances put his career at Everton in doubt; nevertheless, after keeping three clean sheets in the last three matches, it seems Robles is the keeper to go forward. But as Tim Howard edges closer to returning in goal, does Robles deserve more time in goal? Is he Everton’s new number one? Lets look at the stats to compare from his time at Wigan, last season and this season and see how big of an improvement he has made in the last season.
Joel Robles has always looked uncomfortable taking kicks, but it seems that he has improved this season. Earlier on in the season in mid-January, Robles had the biggest average distribution length (57 metres) out of any other goalkeeper in Europe’s top 5 leagues. More recently however, that has decreased by 18 metres (now 39 metres), only 6 other goalkeepers in the league that have featured this season have a smaller distribution average. Comparing that to the previous two seasons, that is lower than any other season – in 2013/14 he had an average 45 meter distribution length.
His accuracy is also lower than it has been previously. In 2013/14 he had an distribution accuracy of 59% and the season before that at Wigan, he had a 61% percentage. This season, it is only slightly lower at 55%. Despite this, I feel that Robles is much more confident in his kicking than he was. Although the stats don’t back this up, he sends more higher balls and actually attempts to aim for the tallest player on the pitch for Everton (Romelu Lukaku). Tim Howard passes the ball out a lot more times than Joel Robles does, which can cause many more defensive errors – games against Sunderland last season and Crystal Palace at home this season back this up.
There is no doubt that Joel Robles is starting to use his aerial abilities a lot more compared to last season, and it’s successful as well. Robles didn’t make a single successful punch last season (in the league) and made 7 in nine appearances for Wigan. This season, he has made 5 punches. Although that isn’t as much as the 2012/13 campaign, it shows he is much more confident in the air. When Everton made the cup run last season, you could see in a few games, Joel wasn’t confident collecting the ball and made many more punches than he should’ve done. Now he is a lot more confident, which is important as Everton are one of the worst teams at winning aerial battles in the league.
His improvement in confidence in the air is backed by the amount of catches he has made this season. Joel Robles has made 20 successful catches in the league so far this campaign; which is more than in any other season (4 in 2013/14, 17 in 2012/13). He also has a 100% claim percentage, which he also didn’t have in the last two seasons and only 13 other keepers currently have so far. This shows that Joel can use his height to his advantage when a cross comes into the area. He moves around a lot more than he does usually in his area and has grown a lot more confident.
Joel Robles hasn’t always been the most reliable when it comes to making saves, but now he is starting to improve, having made 14 saves in the league this season, which was more than last season but less than in 2012/13. However, his saves per goal average is better than it was last season and the least before that. He has an average of 2.33 saves per goal, in 2013/14 he had an average at 2 and in 2012/13 he had an average of 1.07. He even has a higher average than Tim Howard does this season, his average is 1.27!
Joel Robles has certainly improved. I would have never thought I would be saying this last season, but I feel more comfortable with him in goal than I do with Tim Howard at this moment in time. His distribution is fantastic, whilst he has built a lot of confidence coming out and making a punch or a catch. His saves per goal average certainly surprised me. The main question is, should he start in goal over Tim Howard? I think yes, as he is bigger and has made a few good saves this season.
Stats via squawka.com