Goalkeeper Lukasz Fabianski was as imperative as ever as he kept his third West Ham United clean sheet of the season on Saturday evening, in the comfortable 0-2 Premier League victory over Claudio Ranieri’s Fulham at Craven Cottage.
Through the power of statistics-driven tactical analysis, we are going to analyse yet another Man-of-the-Match-contending performance from the Polish international as Manuel Pellegrini’s men made it four league wins in succession. Join us.
Firstly, we will be taking an in-depth look at the key saves he made in West London, with three of his five stops on the evening being much more crucial than the others, for different reasons.
These include their timing and the quality of the save made by the man captured from relegated Swansea City for a fee of around £7 million and has arguably been the pick of the Irons’ nine first-team summer transfer window signings, in 2018/2019 so far.
The first of the trio arrived in the ninth minute at Craven Cottage, when a second London derby in a row for Fabianski’s team was still evenly poised and the rock-bottom-of-the-table home side were doing most of the pressing.
It was in this period that Ranieri’s men created a golden opportunity to break the deadlock, the chance of the match, with forward Aboubakar Kamara being slipped clean through on goal by his partner Aleksandar Mitrovic.
Below, in the wyscout.com image, with all the images in this section provided by our good friends over at Wyscout, we can see Fabianski pushing the ball away for a corner. This was after the Frenchman had looked to close down the angle and find the near corner, only able to find his opponents gloves as he made a pivotal early save to keep the scores level.
Our second key save, all of which came in the first half, arrived around 18 minutes later, post-the-visitors-taking-the-lead through a second goal in as many matches from Robert Snodgrass. This one was a little simpler but all the more important to keep his side’s advantage intact, getting down to his left to stop Kamara’s accurate low header.
Below, we can see the third, which also came from Kamara in the late kick-off he could have and probably should have netted a hat-trick. This time, the effort, immediately after the second key save, had a bit more zip on it and was struck from range, although it failed to stop the shot-stopper with the second-most saves in the top-flight this term from pushing the ball out of danger strongly.
Whilst these crucial first-half stops helped to shape Fabianski’s excellent performance and had he not made them, the BT Sport live match would have undoubtedly followed an entirely different path. They weren’t the be all and end all of his display, as we’ll find out in the next two stages of this analysis.
Next in our tactical analysis, and with Wyscout’s help once more, we are going to analyse the Pole’s key goalkeeping statistics from Saturday evening, which are contained in the below image.
You will also see his career average per 90 minutes for these stats at the top of the graphic, but it’s just the figures of Fabianski, the only player to have played every PL minute for West Ham this campaign, from four days ago we’re going to be focussing on today. Although it does make for an interesting comparison and further proves the quality of his showing.
The first stat we are drawn to for the full 96 minutes is his zero goals conceded, making it a trio of clean sheets for the season. The former Arsenal ‘keeper will be eager to build on this number in the coming weeks and months, clinching the more clean sheets his performances have deserved, as he has conceded just a single goal on eight occasions this season, having only featured in the league as a Hammer thus far.
A testament to him not letting one from the Fulham attack by him was the high expected conceded goals rating of 1.31, along with the total of five shots against him and the aforementioned eye-catching five saves pulled off, two of which utilised his impressive reflexes.
As you can see, Fabianski also made two exits to ward off the danger of an opposition cross, as well as attempting 14 tricky long passes, a respectable six of which reached their intended recipient successfully.
It’s the veteran goalkeeper’s short passing figures that really stand out as he possessed a 100 per cent record with his short passes, with ten out of ten accurate. Meanwhile, he finishes with a better-than-average 13 ball distributions on a busy evening, more than double his usual number.
Overall, even by the high standards the 33-year-old has set over the course of his career, these performance figures are nothing short of wonderful for the star Hammers fans have come to know as their safe pair of hands at the back. This is proved by the fact Fabianski’s career average is beaten in most of the areas.
Touches and heatmap
For the final phase of this analysis, we are going to finish by analysing Fabianski’s heatmap and number of touches in the west of the capital, data we have acquired from whoscored.com in the below graphic.
Above his heatmap which we’ll touch on later is his number of touches from the encounter, 54, displaying just how much he was involved in proceedings throughout. The figure was more than double that of his opposite number Sergio Rico, the sixth most of any West Ham player on the night and the 13th most on the pitch (including substitutes).
The heatmap just below paints the picture of a commanding game between the sticks for Fabianski, which was just the case. There is evidence of him charging out of his penalty area to collect long balls, beating attackers to them and him covering almost every square inch of his area, a near perfect goalkeeper’s positional display.
In conclusion, our statistical tactical analysis today has proved just how statistically and positionally imperative Fabianski was for the East Londoners once more, en-route to helping his side to a fourth league three points on the spin and his four-man defence to a timely third clean sheet of the campaign.
However, this was hardly a surprise and simply what the Claret & Blue Army has seen every week from the player who took the No1 spot from Adrian San-Miguel on arrival at London Stadium last June, even if clean sheets like this one have been rare. There can be little doubting that the Hammers would hardly be in the top half of the table at this stage if it wasn’t for Fabianski, but the man himself will just be hoping that his terrific showings are finally starting to be rewarded with shutouts.
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