Statistical Analysis

Stats Show that Guardiola's Bravo Strategy isn't a Keeper

Mon, 30 January 2017, 14:05

When Son Heung-min slotted in Tottenham’s late equaliser against Manchester City on Saturday, it continued a worrying run for one of City’s most under-pressure players.

Goalkeeper Claudio Bravo, signed by Pep Guardiola in the summer to replace long-standing number one Joe Hart, has now conceded his last six shots on target, failing to make a save in 180 minutes of Premier League action.

Since that last stop, to Burnley’s Michael Keane on January 2, Bravo let in four goals against Everton and two against Spurs, which points to a worrying trend since joining the club.

Of the 22 goalkeepers to have played 10 times or more in the Premier League this season, Bravo ranks 22nd for saves per goal conceded.

The Chilean has made just 1.04 saves for every goal that he’s let in this term, the worst out of all the division’s shot-stoppers.

When this is compared to title-rivals Tottenham’s Hugo Lloris and Chelsea’s Thibaut Courtois, who are both averaging 2.33 saves/goal, it doesn’t look good for the City keeper.

Surprisingly out in front, however, is a less-heralded number one.

Stoke’s Lee Grant, who started the season at Championship Derby County and was only brought in on loan as cover for the injured Jack Butland, has been a revelation, making an impressive 2.35 saves for each goal conceded.

Grant has now signed for the Potters on a permanent deal worth £1.3million – a steal compared to the £17million reportedly paid to Barcelona for Bravo.

The stats don’t get much better for the City keeper when looking at the league’s clean sheets.

While Courtois is way out in front with 13 shutouts, Bravo has only managed four from his 19 Premier League appearances so far.

This average of 0.21 per match is the lowest of the top six, and puts him 15th/22 overall.

It could be argued that the iffy form and individual errors of the likes of John Stones and Aleksandar Kolorov plays its part too, but Bravo’s low save/goal average means that while City’s defence are allowing plenty of shots, the keeper is letting plenty of those in.

Bravo may have it bad, but spare a thought for Hull’s David Marshall.

The Scottish shot-stopper has played 15 times for the Tigers since his arrival in the summer, and hasn’t kept one clean sheet.

New manager Marco Silva can’t have been too impressed, immediately dropping Marshall for Eldin Jakupovic.

Player

Team

Games

Length (m)

Accuracy %

Passes/Game

Claudio Bravo

Manchester City

18

25

75

23

Simon Mignolet

Liverpool

11

42

70

22.45

Hugo Lloris

Tottenham

19

29

76

22

Loris Karius

Liverpool

10

34

69

19.6

Victor Valdés

Middlesbrough

18

41

56

18.83

Kasper Schmeichel

Leicester

13

48

49

17.54

Darren Randolph

West Ham

10

51

55

17.4

Ben Foster

West Brom

21

53

43

17.29

Wayne Hennessy

Crystal Palace

12

47

49

16.83

Jordan Pickford

Sunderland

16

50

51

16.5

Tom Heaton

Burnley

19

49

47

15.68

Lee Grant

Stoke

16

42

63

15.31

Adrian

West Ham

11

37

60

15

Heurelho Gomes

Watford

21

43

53

14.71

Maarten Stekelenburg

Everton

16

56

57

14.63

Lukasz Fabianski

Swansea

21

43

68

14.14

Petr Cech

Arsenal

21

40

62

14.14

David de Gea

Manchester United

21

45

66

13.81

Artur Boruc

Bournemouth

19

35

63

13.58

David Marshall

Hull

15

46

50

13.33

Fraser Forster

Southampton

21

45

53

13

Thibaut Courtois

Chelsea

21

36

68

12.81

When Guardiola brought Bravo in, he stated that the Chilean’s ability with his feet was vital for the style of play he wanted to City to have.

Playing out from the back has long been a key component of Guardiola’s sides, and as the stats show, goalkeeping errors aside, Bravo is the perfect man to implement that.

The former Barcelona man leads the way for the most passes attempted per match, at 23.0 – more than anyone else in the league.

He also ranks second for pass accuracy, at 75%, and has the shortest average distribution length, at 25m, showing he is following Guardiola’s game-plan well.

It is interesting to note that league-leading Chelsea’s Courtois has the lowest passes/match, at a shade under half as many per game as Bravo.

The Blues have notably made very few individual defensive errors on the ball around their own box, in direct contrast to City.

It may go against his footballing philosophy, but Guardiola should look to take a leaf out of Chelsea’s books and avoid taking risks close to his side’s goal.

Perhaps some of the criticism of Bravo’s start to life in the City net is because of the popularity of the man he replaced.

England number one Hart won two Premier League titles as City’s keeper, and was well liked by fans and in the dressing-room.

However, with Guardiola wanting to impose his passing style (and possibly prove himself as the boss ahead of a player with a big personality), Hart was sent out on loan to Torino, with Bravo installed in the side.

On the distribution front, Guardiola’s plan has worked perfectly.

Bravo is making twice as many total passes/match as Hart managed last season, at a 16% better accuracy. Those passes are also on average 15m shorter, with Hart far keener to “get rid” – the antithesis to the Spaniard’s tiki-taka style.

However, when looking at their shot-stopping, there’s only one winner.

Hart ranked way higher last season in goals conceded/game, saves/game, clean sheets/game, and saves/goal than Bravo is managing this time around.

Indeed, Hart is doing better than Bravo in all but goals conceded/game for Torino this term – not surprising considering he’s now playing for the team 9th in Serie A, compared to title-challenging City.

What is also an interesting aside, is Hart’s far improved distribution statistics in Italy.

His accuracy is up to 70% from 59% last year, with his passes/game also up, and his average pass length dropping.

With Hart only on loan at Torino, he could be showing Guardiola that he has what it takes to play out from the back, and is hoping to stake a claim on his return in the summer.

Bravo is performing worse in almost every category (bar passes/game) for City compared with Barcelona – making three times as many saves per match last year in Spain.

Given Hart’s improvement, and Bravo’s obvious lack of confidence having arrived in the Premier League, will City fans get their wish and see the England keeper back in Guardiola’s goal next year?

Credit for Header Image: Peter Byrne/PA via AP

STATISTICAL ANALYSIS

Statistical Analysis discovers hidden trends and values in major gambling events by deciphering both contemporary stats and historical data. We derive our probabilities from history, not just betting odds, so you don't have to.

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