Pepe Reina - irreplaceable?

Pepe Reina - irreplaceable?

It’s always hard to rate keepers. You can’t really rate based on goals against averages or clean sheets, as they are not just decided by goalkeepers, but on how good defences are and how defensive coaches can be. Some keepers can look good for poorer sides because they have more opportunity to show off. Others can be statistically excellent, but prone to high-profile errors that can alter perceptions of their prowess.

But based on watching him since he joined Liverpool in 2005, I’ve always regarded Pepe Reina as a world class keeper. Remarkably young for one so accomplished, he is an excellent all-round keeper, superb at rushing out to diffuse attacks at source, and he has excellent distribution skills to boot. Which is why rumours of him looking to leave fill me with dread.

But should they?

Now before you accuse me of heresy, let’s have a look at his save percentage since 2007 – the last year I can get data for.

Now, that trend doesn’t look great. Starting from an 80 per cent save rate, he is now down at 68.3 per cent. Basically one in three shots is a goal.

But maybe it’s a standard thing – maybe as footballs have gotten lighter, maybe everyone is making fewer saves? A quick check of the same statistics for four other established keepers – Cech, van de Sar, Friedel and Schwarzer suggests otherwise. All of them improved at least once year-on-year. All are currently performing better on this metric.

Pepe Reina % of shots saved in his Liverpool career.

Now, that trend doesn’t look great. Starting from an 80 per cent save rate, he is now down at 68.3 per cent. Basically one in three shots is a goal.

But maybe it’s a standard thing – maybe as footballs have gotten lighter, maybe everyone is making fewer saves? A quick check of the same statistics for four other established keepers – Cech, van de Sar, Friedel and Schwarzer suggests otherwise. All of them improved at least once year-on-year. All are currently performing better on this metric.

Comparison of shots saved % with other Premiership Goal Keepers.

According to the stats I have, of 20 Premier league goalkeepers [1], Reina is ranked 18th. Peter Cech and Joe Hart lead the way, with a save percentage of 79 per cent each.

So what does all this mean? Well, it doesn’t mean I want him to leave. Even if his performance might have dipped on this one metric, he still has all the attributes required of a top keeper, and has many miles left on the clock as well.

But irreplaceable? Maybe not…

[Runs for cover]

____________________________________________________________________

[1] Petr Cech, CHE, Joe Hart, MCY, Ben Foster, BC, Asmir Begovic, STO, Simon Mignolet, SUN, Heurelho Gomes, TOT, Mark Schwarzer, FUL, Edwin Van der Sar, Man, Craig Gordon, SUN, Jussi Jaaskelainen, BW, Richard Kingson, BLP, Wayne Hennessey, WLV, Robert Green, WHU, Mathew Gilks, BLP, Tim Howard, EVE, Paul Robinson, BLA, Brad Friedel, AST, José Reina, LIV, Ali Al Habsi, WIG, Marcus Hahnemann, WLV.


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Comments

9 responses to “Pepe Reina – irreplaceable?”

  1. Matt Brock says:

    Interesting, but maybe the chances the opposition are creating against us are more clear cut than previously when we had a well drilled defensive unit under Benitez. Maybe Van der Sar playing for Liverpool would have worse stats than Pepe, I find it tough to believe that Pepe is letting in the type of shots that he was previously saving.

  2. It could also be down to personal morale. I would probably agree with it totally if it was just for this season because he’s not been himself recently but it’s surprising that it’s been gradual over the last few seasons. We certainly haven’t noticed but definitely an interesting piece from Robsabarcia.

  3. David Quainton says:

    At the start of his career he had a tip-top set of centrebacks playing in front of him. We generally shut down play and shots were from further out. Our defence is, on the whole, worse right now. Agger is ace, but never fit, Carragher is older, and every other defender has his porblems. It’s not that they are bad, just, I would suggest, more prone to gifting easier chances. Easier chances that are also created by the tranistional nature of the team as a whole.
    I’d wager the greater majority of shots that have gone in against him have been scored from within ten yards, and often headers because we’ve certainly dipped in that region since Sami left.
    It would be very interesting to know his stats since the defence has become more organised by KD and SC. A good stat to produce would be percentage of ‘saveable’ shots Pepe reaches, if such a thing were measurable.

  4. I think it could be possible to get the data (where goals were conceded from) but we’d have to go through each and every match and check where the opposition have scored against us. These stats will be available in our stats centre, maybe Robsabarcia can pick this task up when the stats go live on March 12th? 🙂

  5. Rob Sabarcia says:

    Agreed, its not easy to judge goalkeepers purely on stats. For example, how many goals has Reina stopped at source because he is so fast off his line?

    My point with this article was reallty to highlight that , at least on some of performance metrics, Reina might not be performing as well as we all thought he was.

  6. Still a very thought provoking article mate. Really enjoyed it – more of the same please!!

  7. David Quainton says:

    Rob Sabarcia: I’m with you, largely. I think that sort of downward trend has to be at least in some part down to a loss of form from Pepe (on that note, has his goalkeeping coach changed at any point?).

  8. Goalkeeping coach has definitely changed with Roy which explains the recent downward curve.

  9. Nick Collins says:

    I actually think he is highly over rated personally. When we have a 1v1 against him 9 times out of 10 its a goal. He has only ever saved 1 penalty (excluding those against Wet Spam!) but saying that hardly any keepers save penalties so it isnt a bad thing, but considering he was meant to be this penalty king he doesnt save many! His shot stopping is just as good as most other keeps and is above average in coming for crosses.
    Where he has value is setting up quick counter attacks. Under Roy this was stopped but he is starting to get rid of the ball a lot faster now. Yea he has a great clean sheet record but a lot of that is down to the team defending as a whole not letting any decent chances against him. I cannot remember many if any 1v1 chance he has saved for us?

    I would though, hate it if he went to Man United! But they would never sell a player to us, so why should we ever sell a player to them anyway? Hope Kenny gets kept on and would not even consider it.

    Maybe it is just the fact that he does not have much to do in most games and other keepers look better because they save a lot more shots etc but they are more active because of their poorer team. For example Shay Given looks a great keeper and was always making worldies! Sure Reina does pull off some great saves now and then but he tends to let in silly goals too. YNWA

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Categories: Liverpool FC Opinion, Liverpool FC Player Profiles, and Liverpool FC Stats.' 'Tags: Reina.
Published by Anfield Index
Updated: 2013-11-01 16:30:58
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