Our picks

Sam Johnstone: the stats that support a well deserved call-up to the Three Lions

Goalkeeping at the bottom of the Premier League table is not a glamorous job. Every week, and every game, carries the potential for a landslide of goals as you are dismantled by sides numbering amongst the best in Europe. This is the reality for Sam Johnstone at West Bromwich Albion, sitting behind an ailing back four, as world-class attackers carve through frankly Championship-level centre-backs, batting away constant attempts on goal.

Yet Johnstone has come through nearly a whole season of this with his name not only unscathed but instead glorified by his goalkeeping heroics. His reputation inflates with every game he plays, saving the Baggies time and time again with his shot-stopping ability, and a gap in the international goalkeeping set-up has finally given Johnstone his just reward: a call-up to the England squad.

A product of the Manchester United Academy, Johnstone remained at his boyhood club for the first seven years of his professional career. These seven years were accompanied by seven distinct loan spells – but after coming back from Aston Villa in 2018, Johnstone decided it was time to move on and secured a move to West Bromwich Albion that summer. Since joining the Baggies, Johnstone has only seen success.

Butting his way into the first team from the moment he joined, Johnstone was a crucial part of West Brom’s promotion push last year. It was telling that the Baggies did not search for a goalkeeping upgrade when they entered the Premier League, as Fulham did with bringing in Areola. Although this season has not been so peachy for his team, Johnstone himself has done nothing but validate his place in the top-flight with consistently excellent performances. The proof of this can be found, not in the pudding, but in the statistics.

Looking at West Brom’s defensive statistics as a whole does nothing to show the real picture. Indeed, the Baggies have conceded an unenviable total of 57 goals in just 29 matches this season – the highest Goals Against in the league. But zoom in on Johnstone himself, and you will find the hallmarks of a player doing everything he can to keep his struggling side afloat.

The goalkeeper has the most saves in the Premier League this season on 115, clocking in at just over 4.1 saves per game – think of that as four more goals the Baggies could have conceded on each occasion. You could argue that Johnstone will, of course, have the most saves if he is facing the most shots, but he is head and shoulders above other goalkeepers who do similar amounts of work. For instance, Aaron Ramsdale and Nick Pope both fall short with 106 and 102 saves and save-rates of 3.66 and 3.64 respectively.

While this save rate already puts him at the top of the pile, his most significant statistic is the number of errors or individual mistakes that have led to goals. Pope has made four, Ramsdale has made two, and Pickford himself has also made two. Johnstone, meanwhile, has made none.

This is the highlight of Johnstone’s goalkeeping this season, and it takes a minute to wrap your head around it: despite the Baggies conceding the most goals in the division, not a single one of those was a result of Johnstone’s error. This is not the sign of a good goalkeeper – but a great one. You can imagine Gareth Southgate looking at this statistic, spitting out some tea over his waistcoat, then calling up his goalkeeping scouts and telling them that he needs Johnstone in his squad. If the keeper keeps up that kind of form, only a fool would deny him the chance to prove it on the international stage.

90MAAT News Now

Premier League Table

90MAAT Social Media

ScoopDragon Football News Network

Search The Site