KEPA ARRIZABALAGA is playing for his Chelsea future after a string of poor performances and high-profile errors this season.
The club record signing has been playing way below the level expected of a £71.6MILLION signing – a fee that made him the most expensive goalkeeper ever.
His failure to move for Trent Alexander-Arnold’s lovely free-kick infuriated many, as did his weak effort for Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain’s late goal.
Cameras even picked up the moment angry team-mates blasted him for being rooted to his line when a dangerous cross was whipped in late on.
Manager Frank Lampard is said to have run out of patience with the keeper and is linked with string of potential replacements.
Unfortunately for the former Athletic Bilbao No 1, both traditional and advanced statistics place him among the very WORST keepers in all of Europe’s top five leagues.
Despite his troubles with advanced numbers, there is one rather simple stat that tells a pretty big story on its own: his save percentage.
Kepa is the not-so-proud owner of the very WORST save percentage in all of Europe’s top five leagues – the Premier League, La Liga, Serie A, the Bundesliga and Ligue 1.
Out of a massive 98 goalkeepers who qualified – those who played more than 1,500 minutes – 97 have a better save percentage than Kepa.
He has managed to keep out just 55 of 99 shots, a miserable 54.5 per cent.
For comparison, Tottenham captain Hugo Lloris owns the best record in Europe (80.2 per cent), with the likes of Juventus’ Wojciech Szczesny (3rd, 79.1 per cent), Real Madrid star Thibaut Courtois (4th, 78.9 per cent) and Atletico Madrid’s Jan Oblak (10th, 77.1 per cent) all ranking highly.
Keepers at rival Premier League clubs also put him to shame, Arsenal’s Bernd Leno (77.6 per cent), Liverpool’s Alisson (72.7 per cent) and Kasper Schmeichel (74.2 per cent) of Leicester dealing much better with shots.
Even the much-maligned Manchester United keeper David De Gea makes a good amount of saves, 74.2 per cent, in between his high-profile howlers.
His struggle making saves hasn’t just happened on the domestic front either.
In the Champions League his save percentage is actually worse – 50 per cent – making him the lowest ranked in that category in the competition this season.
Jarringly for Chelsea fans, target Andre Onana of Ajax sits second in that category, saving a whopping 85.7 per cent of the shots he faced.
Now we get to the slightly nerdier stuff, expected goals against.
It is a far from flawless stat – essentially someone is judging every shot and deeming it saveable or not, and we highly doubt former world class keepers are lining up for that job.
The stats also vary with StatsBomb – used for this article – actually attributing two fewer goals than rival firm Opta.
But a higher number generally indicates better shot stopping (and perhaps some slightly better luck).
Unfortunately, Kepa’s numbers are so shockingly bad that even if the data is less than 100 per cent accurate, it gives us a pretty good indication of what a terrible season he’s had – especially combined with his low save percentage.
The 25-year-old Kepa currently sits on minus-9.2 expected goals – or 11 according to Opta stats – essentially he has conceded NINE more goals than he should have given the shots he has faced this season.
That number is the WORST in the Premier League in 2019-20… by more than THREE.
The data also passes the eye test.
The second worst on the Premier League list is Southampton keeper Angus Gunn (-6.0), who hasn’t played since conceding nine against Leicester City in October, and Jordan Pickford (-4.1), who continues to face huge criticism from both Everton and England fans.
The fact Kepa’s tally sits double the man in third place is telling, as is the fact that only six total keepers have a score worse than minus-2.
At the top end of the table again sits Hugo Lloris, who has plus-9.8, the Spurs keeper being a hero in between the sticks once more despite one or two of his inevitable big blunders.
Four keepers who have earned rave reviews this season – Newcastle’s Martin Dubravka (+8.5), Sheffield United loanee Dean Henderson (+7.4), Bernd Leno of Arsenal (+7.3) and Alex McCarthy (+7.0), who replaced Gunn and helped a resurgance at Southampton – make up the top five.
Kepa’s are equally as bad if you open it up to the rest of Europe’ top five leagues.
Just three keepers – Timo Horn of Cologne (-12.7), Jiri Pavlenka of Werder Bremen (-12.3) and Saint-Ettien’s Stephane Ruffier (-9.8) – have fared worse than Chelsea’s keeper.
Those three clubs are decidedly not the current level of Champions League-chasing Chelsea – Saint-Etienne and Cologne have been fighting relegation all season and Werder only kept their place in the Bundesliga after a play-off with second tier side Heidenheim.
Again it shows just how exceedingly high Kepa’s own number is, with only 12 keepers out of 98 that qualified having a score worse than minus-6.
The trio below Kepa also cost far less than the world record £71.6m Chelsea laid out, their combined transfers throughout their careers totalling just £5.8m.
Kepa fans will have one defence against these numbers: Chelsea’s shocking back line.
The advanced stats show that the Blues give away the joint-second easiest chances of any club in Europe’s top five leagues, their peers including Eibar, Paderborn and Getafe.
Inconsistent, out of form and rotating defenders and Lampard’s attacking and open style clearly haven’t helped Kepa.
But the Spaniard is operating well below the level expected of an average mid-table stopper – let alone the world’s most expensive goalkeeper.
Chelsea have ambitions to challenge Liverpool and Man City at home and abroad, especially after splashing big cash on Hakim Ziyech and Timo Werner.
To truly compete with the very elite in football, they desperately need a new goalkeeper when the window opens.