3420 – Minutes played by Szcezsny*
38 – Games played by Szczesny
49 – Goals conceded by Szczesny
8 – Goals conceded by Arsenal against Manchester United
16 – Percent of total goals allowed by Arsenal in just that one game against Man U
14 – Goals conceded by Arsenal in their opening five games
29 – Percent of total goals allowed by Arsenal in their opening five games
35 – Goals conceded by Arsenal in the final 33 games of 2011-2012
133 – Shots on goals conceded by Arsenal in 2011-2012
27 – Shots on goal conceded by Arsenal in their opening five games
84 – Saves made by Szczesny in 20122-2012
13 – Saves made by Szczesny in the opening five games
63 – Percent of all 133 shots on goal stopped by Szczesny
48 – Percent of the first 27 shots on goal stopped by Szczesny
106 – Shots on goal conceded by Arsenal in the final 33 games of 2011-2012
67 – Percent of the 106 shots on goal in the final 33 games stopped by Szczesny
5 – Own goals scored by Arsenal
4 – Penalties awarded to Arsenal’s opposition
1 – Penalty saves by Szczesny
How did Szczesny compare to other keepers?
Some notes on this chart:
The line on Wayne Hennessey denotes those keepers with 70% save rate or better on one side and 69% or lower on the other side because I think 70% and higher is the number that Szczesny should be targeting.
The last column represents the number of goals that each keeper would have let in if they had faced the 133 shots that Szczesny faced. It’s easy to see this column and say “Mignolet is 24 goals better than Szczesny” but the danger there is that not all shots on goal are created equally. For example, de Gea faced an unusual number of speculative shots from distance (especially early in the season) as he had come to England with a reputation for problems dealing with long shots. As you can see, that reputation turned out to be unfounded as he only allowed 4 goals from distance. So, his numbers could be artificially inflated because of that.
There are also structural differences in the defenses of all the teams in the Premier League. Thus, Arsenal might allow the opposition to have clearer chances than other teams do and this could also account for Szczesny’s low save percentage. One or two players on defense are often blamed when a goal is scored but as anyone who has ever played the game knows, defense is a team effort.
The point of including that column is to show how important save percentage is and to show that Arsenal need to work on increasing that number by a combination of defensive changes. If Arsenal saved 70% of the shots on goal that came to them they would have only allowed 39 goals this season which would be good enough for third best.
Simply plopping Simon Mignolet into the Arsenal goal probably wouldn’t change much. However, working on the rotation in midfield, keeping the center backs’ minds in the game, pressing high up the pitch to limit the long balls over the top, working on Szczesny’s positioning, and balancing attack and defense are the only things that will change any Arsenal keeper’s save percent.
Finally, the 13 clean sheets is good enough for 5th best in the League and shows that despite some deficiencies, Arsenal’s defense can get the job done when needed. However, they achieved those clean sheets by only allowing 22 shots on goal in those 13 games. That’s an average of 1.69 shots on goal per game in those matches. Arsenal’s season average is 3.5 shots on goal.