Tale of the Tape: Pepe Reina versus David De Gea

(or goalkeeping statistics of one sort and another…)

by Bill Farnham

In Monday’s Football Weekly podcast from the Guardian, deputy sports editor Barry Glendenning discussed a number of Premier League and La Liga goalkeepers, including Asmir Begovic, David De Gea, Iker Casillas, and Pepe Reina, speculating at one point on the feasibility of Casillas and De Gea switching teams. In light of the upcoming match against Manchester United, and because both Reina and De Gea have come in for a fair amount of criticism over the last 18 months, I thought it might be interesting to compare their performance both within the frame of the 2012 Premier League season and with regards to other alternative comparison points; here then is the tale of the tape:

Pepe Reina


David De Gea

All stats are courtesy of eplindex.com and thescore.com

Part 1: Does David De Gea have better goalkeeping statistics this Premier League season than Pepe Reina?

Screenshot from 2013-01-10 22:00:22

Reina has started more games than De Gea this season in the Premier League, 17 to De Gea’s 13, and has therefore played more minutes. Consequently, perhaps, Reina has also faced more shots, although he has made fewer saves. Reina averages fewer goals allowed per game, but the two are so close that the difference is trivial, as is the minutes played to goals advantage, totaling a mere 48 seconds more for Reina. Reina has four more shutouts and when extrapolating the shutouts per starts ratio over the course of a season, Reina would keep 15 clean sheets and De Gea 8, a substantial difference. Quite unexpectedly, De Gea has made more saves than Reina, despite playing less. Reina has faced four penalties, saving one, while De Gea has not faced a penalty yet this season. Removing the penalty goals from Reina’s goals allowed statistics, as they represent three high probability scoring events that De Gea has not encountered, sees Reina move ahead of De Gea significantly in the minutes played per goal allowed statistic.
Advantage: Reina in part 1, leading on two out of the three judges cards.
Part 2: What other goalkeeping information is available?
De Gea has a record of 11-1-1 in his 13 starts, while Reina is 7-4-6 in his 17 starts. Point for De Gea. De Gea has a 30.49 percent save ratio (164 shots faced, 50 saves), while Reina has only saved 22.95 percent of the shots that he has faced (42 saves from 183 shots faced). Another point for De Gea. Conversely, only 9.32 percent of the shots that Reina has faced have led to goals (22 goals allowed for 183 shots), compared to De Gea’s 9.65 percent (17 goals allowed for 164 shots). Point Reina. (Note: penalties should not be removed from this calculation since they are shots.) Reina has a marginally lower ratio of goals allowed for shots faced but not saved, with 6.41 percent of the shots faced but not saved resulting in goals, while 6.71 percent of the shots that De Gea faces and does not save result in goals. De Gea has a higher number of saves per goal allowed, leading Reina 2.94 to 1.91. Point De Gea. Based on the aggregate numbers, for every goal that he concedes, De Gea faces 15 shots not requiring a save and 6.6 shots requiring a save, while Reina sees 16 shots not requiring a save and 4.7 that do.
Screenshot from 2013-01-10 22:06:22
Reina has missed more crosses than De Gea, understandable because he has played more minutes, while De Gea has won a higher percentage of ground 50-50s. De Gea has a lower win rate in aerial 50-50 challenges, having made six to Reina’s four, however, trailing Reina’s record is perfect. Both keepers have made two interceptions, while De Gea has not been dribbled past and has made only two defensive errors to Reina’s four. Several Points to De Gea here. Advantage De Gea thus far in part 2.
Reina has a noticeably higher pass completion percentage in open play, and has made a higher number of accurate passes when throws and goal kicks are added into the pool. Reina is more accurate with his passing in the defensive end of the field, while De Gea is more accurate with passes that are in both the Attacking Zone and the Final Third of the pitch. Advantage: De Gea takes part 2 on all three judges cards.
Part 3: Alternative evaluation points, including Hardware, Lineage and WaGs
HardwareReina has won 3 major tournaments, 1 youth tournament, 3 European cups and 3 English cups. De Gea has won 2 youth tournaments, one European competition, one European cup and one English cup. Advantage: Reina.
Screenshot from 2013-01-10 22:53:31
Lineage: Reina’s father, Miguel Reina, played for Barcelona, Atletico Madrid and Cordoba FC, twice winning the Copa del Ray, earning 6 caps for the Spanish National Team and a spot on the 1966 World Cup squad. Like his son, he was on the losing side in an European Cup final albeit to Bayern Munich in 1974. Advantage: Reina
WaGs: in what could be a decisive alternate data point both, both goalkeepers are very well represented in the WaGs category, although you’ll have to judge the winner for yourself, as Reina’s wife Yolanda Cruz and De Gea’s girlfriend Edurne Garcia Almagro are quite stunning. Advantage: push, sigh.
Advantage: Reina wins part three based on hardware alone.
Reina wins.

2 thoughts on “Tale of the Tape: Pepe Reina versus David De Gea

  1. At the end of the day neither keeper instills huge confidence. Reina’s form for the last couple of seasons really has been patchy to say the least. He does make mistakes fairly regularly that, inevitably as a goalkeeper, results in goals being conceded. If you think about it what if the two goalkeepers swapped ends in the Cup Final last season?

    Reina’s error for Ramires’s goal on the one hand and Cech’s save from Andy Carroll on the other. If Cech had not have saved that then no-one would have blamed him. Equally if the same happened with Reina. But would Reina have made that save? Who knows. For me though he does not seem to have made that many saves that has kept us in games over the last couple of seasons.

    I can remember a game against Birmingham away a few years ago when we drew 0-0 and if it wasn’t for Reina we’d have lost that game. He had a blinder. I can’t remember too many more games like that he’s had over the last couple of years.

    It used to be said that a great goalkeeper could be worth 10 points to a successful side in a season.

    Hopefully this lack of form is about to be reversed though because he did make a great save against Sunderland that kept us at 1-0 up. A clean sheet tomorrow Pepe would do very nicely.


  2. Well said, Frank, and some excellent points, indeed. I think a win for LFC on Sunday would be the highlight of the season thus far, and for that to happen a strong performance by Reina is required.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s