There is only one truly ambidextrous player in the Premier League and his name is Santi Cazorla. And I have the stats to prove it. But first, the real news: Petr Cech.
There certainly looks like a shakeup imminent at Arsenal in the ‘keeper department as highly influential ‘keeper coach, Tony Roberts, has followed Fabianski to Swansea. The speculation is that the move frees space for Petr Cech’s personal ‘keeper coach Christophe Lollerskates to take over Tony’s job at Arsenal.
Roberts was a well loved and respected coach at Arsenal and his departure is a huge blow to both the club and the young goalkeepers coming through the ranks. As a token of his affection, Szczesny thanked Roberts personally when he signed his long term deal two years ago:
Many people have given me amazing support since I arrived as a boy, people like Tony Roberts, who helped my development as a player from a young age. I’m so proud to be an Arsenal player and am looking forward to helping our Club towards success in the years to come.
Adding further fuel to the fire, The Times is now reporting that David Ospina is on his way to Fenerbache.
This is an incredible turn of events. Truly astonishing. I can’t believe that Arsenal are luring away Petr Cech and his personal goalkeeper coach from Chelsea and that Chelsea are willing to sell a critical component to Arsenal for any price. I also can’t believe that after just one year Ospina is moving to another club. But all of the facts add up: Arsenal look set to sign Petr Cech.
Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho has covered all of his bases by saying that he wouldn’t sell Cech to Arsenal. If Cech has a good season, the Special Ego can say “I told you so”. And if Cech has a bad season, he can claim a victory in selling an ageing player to a rival. There is no lose in this situation for Mourinho.
However, both Chelsea and Arsenal are gambling on Cech and there will be no consensus on this player until I do a much more in-depth analysis. I’ve already seen people taking “a stand” on both sides of the debate (Szczesny v. Cech) and I think everyone needs to climb down off their soap box.
Part of the problem is that the stats we have available for Cech’s are odd. You can run all the Comparison Matrices that you want, I still don’t trust any of the stuff we have available for any ‘keeper. I only trust a more in-depth analysis of every shot faced. Was it a big chance? Was it a shot from distance? Was it a save in the 6 yard box? Those numbers are not publicly available, Opta dribble them out when they feel like it to generate buzz.
Some of his numbers are insanely impressive: Cech saved 89% of the shots he faced last season and over the last three seasons he’s been the best shot stopper in the League, saving 78% of the shots faced. But his aerial game has declined in each of the last three seasons and his distribution has gotten shorter as well. It makes for a very unusual chart:
|Aerial Duel %||100%||83%||NULL|
|Avg. Dist. Length||48m||38m||29m|
|Saves per goal||1.85||2.26||7|
I suspect that where you stand on these stats is largely dependent on where you stand on whether Petr Cech will be a good signing. For me, the stats are inconclusive.
The decline in aerial numbers and kicking distance bothers me but it could be down a change in the style of play or a change in personnel just as easily as it could be down to old legs or something else. The increase in saves percentages and increase in saves per goal over the same time could also be down to changes in the way opponents are attacking Chelsea. If he is facing a lot more low percentage shots (outside the box, tough angles in the box) that would be more down to his defenders in front of him than anything he has done.
Goalkeeper stats are very tricky and the fact is that companies like Opta have the data we would need to make an informed decision but they don’t have anyone willing to pay for that data yet. Well, I’m willing to pay, just not the price they are asking!
My other option is that I could go into the 442 Stats Zone App and look at every game that Szczesny and Cech played over the last three years and judge the shots that they faced to see who had the most difficult job as ‘keeper.
I did this for the Ospina v. Szczesny debate and the conclusion was that Ospina faced half the number of big chances that Szczesny faced, which I think contributed greatly to Ospina’s “good stats”. In other words, I think that Coquelin killing off opposition attacks made Ospina look better than he was.
Because I’m an insane person, I will be looking at every one of Cech and Szczesny’s games over the last three years and I’ll write something up on that. I might not publish that here and instead will probably pitch the idea to some newspapers. If no one is interested, then I guess you’ll get it here or over on ArseblogNews.
And now… the one stat that PROVES Santi Cazorla is ambidextrous…
I’ve looked at a lot of sites claiming that X player is ambidextrous but when I look at their shots stats they usually tell a different story: these so-called ambidextrous players are really just right-footed because they almost always shoot with their right foot. Kevin de Bruyne, for example, is often referred to as “two-footed” but when you look at his shooting stats he has, over his career, taken 202 of his 275 shots with his right foot — 73% right footed.
That’s about average for a decent forward, though some of the more two-footed forwards, like Luca Toni, Pelle, and Kruse get into the low 60′s high 50′s. Raheem Sterling, for example, is a 63% right footed shooter. That’s excellent.
That image above is the number of shots Cazorla took with his right foot (45) and the number he took with his left (48). I looked at all the stats and there is no one in world football right now who matches that volume with that percentage.
There are a number of players who are equally split like Cazorla: Hernanes (Inter) 29-31, Huntelaar 32-28, and Verdi (Empoli) 20-22. But no one in the Premier League and no one in the top five leagues matches Cazorla’s volume.
Now, if he could just score with both feet…