Premier League unsung heroes: Crystal Palace’s Vicente Guaita

Sport

We’re shining a light on the Premier League players who perhaps haven’t had the praise they deserve for their 2019/20 season performances.

Crystal Palace’s current position of 11th in the Premier League owes a lot to the unheralded work of goalkeeper Vicente Guaita. Having won his place as his side’s number one at the end of 2018, the former Getafe and Valencia stopper has quietly established himself as one of the division’s best.

The most common and quickest way goalkeepers are judged is by their save percentage, where Guaita fares well, ranking behind only Liverpool’s Alisson, of players to have played at least half of the season.

Save percentage can also be especially coincidental, though, with no accounting for where a shot was from or the type of chance faced. Given the small sample size of a goalkeeper’s work, that can drastically affect a total.

Instead, using Opta’s Expected Goals model, the quality of those shots faced is more forensically analysed. Players can then be ranked according to how much the average goalkeeper would be expected to save, given the quality of attempts faced. This is where Guaita’s form is further distinguished.

By Opta’s model, no Premier League goalkeeper has made a bigger contribution to his club this season, with the Palace man saving almost 10 goals more than the average goalkeeper would have been expected to, given the shots faced.

Over time, scoring a goal generally accounts for around one Premier League point. Over half the Premier League side’s goals scored and points totals are within five of each other this season, while there have been 792 Premier League points won and 784 goals scored. Last season there were 1072 goals scored and 1069 points won.

Therefore, while it’s far from any exact science, Guaita’s form between the posts has clearly kept his side’s goals conceded total so low, adding substantial points to their overall total in the process. Had his xG Prevented return been below average, or even around it, Palace may have found themselves in a relegation battle once the season resumes.

The fact Roy Hodgson’s side have recorded eight Premier League wins by a one-goal margin this season, with only Liverpool having more, underlines the key role Guaita’s played.

Before the Premier League was halted, the Palace goalkeeper was in especially imperious form. He saved 15 successive shots on target in a row – his best ever Premier League run – while going over four-and-a-half hours without conceding, as his side reeled off three successive 1-0 wins.

Guaita may not be established as one of the bigger names among Premier League goalkeepers but, as the stats show, his form this season has been right up alongside them.