Of West Ham United’s nine first-team summer transfer window signings, one has been quite literally head and shoulders above the rest, one of the tallest, in goalkeeper Lukasz Fabianski.
Jokes aside, the Polish International has shone brightly in what has been a dark start to Manuel Pellegrini’s reign as Hammers manager in the Premier League. Today, we take an in-depth look at what has put Fabianski in a class of his own among the new arrivals, by carrying out a statistics-driven tactical analysis.
For the first phase of our tactical analysis, we have enlisted the help of our good friends over at wyscout.com to bring you the below graphic, which contains a block of Fabianski’s key stats for this season so far, and more specifically, the averages of them, per-game.
The first stat in the image that we are going to analyse of is average goals conceded per-game, 1.53, which may seem high, but a portion of the blame must go to the defence in front of him, who have conceded the joint-fifth most goals in the PL this term
As you can see, Fabianski’s expected goals conceded figure is a little lower, and he is usually peppered with a high five shots-per-game, making four saves in the process, one of which he is forced to use his excellent reflexes, on average.
The Pole has made the most saves in the Top-Flight this season with 36, one more than one of the men he replaced in East London, Joe Hart, meanwhile, he averages 2.13 exits (clearances), each time he steps onto the field in 2018/2019.
He has rarely been involved in aerial duels, which ‘keeper isn’t? And his passing stats are eye-catching, averaging 68.2% and 97.5% accuracy 7.65 and 9.15 average long and short passes per-match, along with 7.63 ball distributions and not a single yellow or red card. Overall, these are more than respectable average figures.
For the second stage of this analysis, we have taken one of Wyscout’s fantastic heatmaps to display the performances of Fabianski, from a positional standpoint.
The heatmap is seen on the left side of the image and is from each of his eight out of eight PL starts this season, along with some overall stats on the far left, concerning his appearances and a further image in the right, of his position, between the sticks.
The heatmap clearly tells us that Fabianski is a shot-stopper not afraid of leaving his line every once and again, whether that be coming out to make a claim or to ward off an opposition attacker, who has burst through.
This shows that he is as ‘keeper very much intertwined with the modern ball-playing, roaming style, a ‘sweeper keeper,’ of kinds, however, he also spends more than enough time in his own six-yard box to not make it a danger, this is an impressive heatmap.
And finally, to show you just how well Fabianski has started the season, in contrast to the majority of his teammates, we have created a comparison that pits him against the man believed by many to be the best goalkeeper in the league, Liverpool’s Alisson Ramses Becker.
To do this, we have utilised the official Premier League website’s excellent Player Comparison tool, to compare the two’s key goalkeeping stats. It’s Fabianski against the world’s most expensive goalkeeper, who moved to Anfield for £66.9 million in July, a mere fraction of the fee he swapped Swansea for East London for.
As expected, the Brazilian wins the first two stats, keeping four more clean sheets than his fellow ‘keeper, arguably with the better defence in front of him, and conceding ten fewer goals.
However, Fabianski comes roaring back as we move down the stats column, doubling Alisson’s number of saves and saves per-match, though the Brazil International has a better saves success rating and has faced one more penalty, with one, but he couldn’t save it.
Both players have committed to five punches and the Poland man has five more high claims than one of his rivals, however, four fewer sweeper keeper clearances, with none and two fewer throw-outs, with 36.
Despite the perceived gulf-in-class between the two shot-stoppers, the stats very much tell us that there is little to separate the two, in terms of actual on-field matters, with Alisson doing better in five stats and Fabianski right behind him, with the three stat wins.
In conclusion, today’s statistical tactical analysis has found that Fabianski’s stats for this campaign are almost as excellent as the fact that he has been up there with some of the league’s best goalkeepers this season, despite being in an entirely different part of the league table to them.
It’s no surprise that Fabianski has been able to keep long-serving Hammer Adrian San-Miguel out of Pellegrini’s plans for the PL so far this term, as he has undoubtedly been the pick of the new recruits from the Irons’ near-£100 million summer spend. If he can keep this kind of form up, the ex-Arsenal star may just be the man who saves West Ham from yet another relegation battle.