The Battle of the Goalies: Kepa Arrizabalaga v Alisson Becker

Forget Chelsea v Liverpool; it’s all about Kepa Arrizabalaga v Alisson Becker. This transfer season saw some very big signings. Usually the bank breaking signings are for world class striker; not so much this time. This time it was all about the goalies. As some of the top teams know, no matter how many goals you can score, the pressure is always on if you can’t trust your last line of defense. Liverpool have seen that first hand – having possibly the best three forwards in the Premier League, but leaking goals at the back. No three strikers performed better, especially Salah – last season’s top scorer. However, they couldn’t win the league or the Champions League because of the defense. This has seen them spend a huge amount of money on the season’t most expensive transfer – Brazilian goalkeeper Alisson Becker – costing a whopping £66.9 million.

This was the headline grabbing goalie until the minute Chelsea signed on the dotted line for Kepa Arrizabalaga – costing a huge £71.6 million. Now, both goalies have a huge weight on their shoulders. It’s time for them to prove their worth in the Premier League. But who do we think is the best deal? Which team has made the best signing? Who comes out top in the battle of the goalies?

Alisson

Alisson is definitely the most seasoned and proven of the two – being Brazil’s number one goalkeeper. He came from one of Serie A’s top team – Roma, where he played 34 games and a total of 3060 minutes. When it comes to comparing statistics, it would seem that they favour Alisson somewhat. Obviously some of these are skewed as he has played more games than Kepa, but if you just look at the figures, he is clearly the more obvious choice.

Last season he kept an impressive 15 clean sheets and conceded just 27 goals the whole season – whilst making a very decent 92 saves – which gives him a ratio of approximately  3.41 saves per goal conceded. Also, although his distribution length from goal may not be as long as some others, his accuracy is great at around the 83% mark. He also has a very high percentage rate of passing completion at 81% with 554 successful passes in the last season. However, he has made 3 defensive errors for Roma, however, fortunately none of these errors lead to goals being scored.

Alisson is clearly an impressive and experienced goalkeeper. At the age of 26, he is young enough to still have a great career ahead of him, but is old enough to have garnered experience in the top European leagues and in international football. He has yet to prove himself in Premier League football, so we watch and wait…

With William Hill offering odds of 11/8 on keeping a clean sheet in his next match, it’s worth a go.

Kepa

Kepa broke all records when he was signed by Chelsea… but how does he compare with Alisson? He’s obviously not as well established as Alisson, as it was only in the 2016-17 season that he became Athletic Bilbao’s first choice goalkeeper. So what is it about him that caught Chelsea’s eye and made them pay such a huge amount of money?

In the previous season at La Liga’s Athletic Bilbao, he played a total of 26 games… 2340 minutes. Because he hasn’t played as many games, or as many minutes as Alisson, the stats aren’t really going to favour him. However, purely based on past performance, without taking any ‘gut’ instinct into account, it’s difficult to justify the cost of him compared to the Brazilian number 1.

Last season, out of his 26 games, he kept 6 clean sheets. Whilst this isn’t too bad, if you compare the percentage of clean sheets in terms of how may games were played, Alisson comes out on top with just over 44% of games with a clean sheet, whereas Kepa has a percentage rate of just over 23%. Also, despite playing less games, Kepa has conceded more goals – 36 in total, whilst making less saves that Alisson at 80 – which gives him a ratio of 2.29 saves per every goal conceded.

Chelsea’s Kepa does actually have a longer distribution length than Alisson – at a very impressive 43m; however, this is offset by the fact that his distributions are a little less accurate than his rivals at just 67%. His pass completion is also less than Alisson’s – at 65% – 360 successful passes in total.

One Bad Mistake

Kepa, on the plus side, has actually made less defensive errors than Alisson – with just one last season. However, that was a vital error as it did cost a goal – compared to Alisson’s 3 that never cost any goals. Kepa, however, is a couple of years younger – so he has more time to grow and improve. He has 2 years’ less experience and this is a big deal. 2 years in the Premier League could see those statistics completely change.

We can only assume then that Chelsea is basing Kepa’s fee on potential. On paper he’s not as good – but he’s younger and that gives him time to learn and grow. At the moment, Alisson comes out on top – but ask again this time next year and who knows…

William Hill are offering decent odds of 17/10 on a clean sheet for the next match – may be worth a shot.

Kepa Arrizabalaga v Alisson Becker: Head to Head

2017/18AlissonKepa
Games Played3426
Minutes Played30602340
Clean Sheets156
Goals Conceded2736
Saves9280
Ratio of Saves Per Goal3.412.29
Distribution Length29m43m
Distribution Accuracy83%67%
Pass Completion81%65%
Successful Passes554360
Punches1213
Catches8779
Defensive Errors31
Errors Leading to Goals01

 

So, both players have kept a clean sheet in the first game – so far so good – but Chelsea are up against Arsenal next, so the next game might be a bit tougher. Liverpool aren’t being tested as much, playing Crystal Palace. So, betting on a clean sheet for Liverpool may be a good football betting strategy, but it might be risky for Chelsea at the moment. This is a real test to see if he’s worth his money!