What do Pepe Reina and David De Gea have in common?
Both Spanish goalkeepers travelled from their home nation to make a huge impact in the Premier League. Although occupying different stages in their career, both players represent one of the England's most prestigious clubs in Liverpool and Manchester United.
Both are often ridiculed for making mistakes.
Is this criticism fathomable? Does either player deserve to create headlines for—quite literally—dropping the ball?
Let's take a look at key statistics from both players' 2012-13 Premier League campaigns so far. Before we begin, it's worth noting that I've considered aerial duels to include any leaping touch that sends the ball favourably away from goal. Also, any errors counted directly lead to the goalkeeper's team conceding.
Liverpool's goalkeeper has suffered a number of injury problems and only racked up 24 Premier League appearances this season. The Spaniard has endured a mixed run of form that stumbles alongside the inconsistency of Brendan Rodgers' side.
Interestingly, Reina has only been forced to deal with aerial battles in five matches. His ability to punch the ball with accuracy is a useful weapon when trying to alleviate pressure from Liverpool's defensive four. The former Villarreal stopper has won 100 percent of these contests since August.
Other statistics aren't so fearsome for the 30-year-old. Four personal errors have forced many to question whether or not Reina is still the right man to prop up Rodgers' Anfield revolution. High-profile mistakes against Arsenal, Tottenham and Manchester City have cost Liverpool vital points in the quest for a Europa League place.
Reina has conceded an average of 1.29 goals per match. He also averages 2.5 saves per game and has claimed an average of 0.66 crosses across each appearance.
|Appearance no.||vs.||Goals Conceded||Saves||Aerial % Won||Crosses Claimed||Errors|
Does David De Gea posses a better selection of stats? Let's find out.
David De Gea
Similar to Reina, David De Gea hasn't played as many games as expected this season. Although the Spaniard has been fit for a large majority of the campaign, Sir Alex Ferguson decided to rotate his No. 1 keeper with Anders Lindegaard in the opening weeks. De Gea has played 22 Premier League games since August; just two behind his Liverpool compatriot.
Everyone knows how to attack De Gea, right?
His reputation as a flapper from crosses was scrutinised in the early stages of the season. As we can see, teams including Everton, Newcastle and Stoke set out to disrupt the 22-year-old from high balls. Although Marouane Fellaini nodded the Toffees into a victory over United on the opening day, De Gea has managed to win 88.88 percent of his aerial encounters.
Just one personal error has tarnished De Gea's season so far. This came in the narrow win against Newcastle and didn't cost the Premier League leaders any points. Ferguson's team also suffered tremendous defensive problems before Christmas, with 17 of De Gea's 20 conceded goals coming before the start of 2013.
Six clean sheets in a row and some stunning cup performances have seen the youngster grow in stature. He has conceded an average of 0.909 goals per Premier League match and averages 3.23 saves per game.
|Appearance No.||vs.||Goals Conceded||Saves||Aerial % Won||Crosses Claimed||Errors|
Remarkably, the total amount of goals conceded and saves for both keepers adds up to 91, meaning we can effectively compare how many shots it takes for both to be beaten.
On average, it has taken 1.94 shots on target to score against Pepe Reina this season. David De Gea is often outlined as an excellent shot-stopper, but does he have the stats to back that claim up? On average, it has taken 3.55 shots on target to overcome the United man.
It's difficult to argue against De Gea in this one. Early season jitters have moved aside for an assured set of performances in the Premier League. Although Reina is superior when dealing with aerial balls, his younger peer takes a clean sweep across the other categories we've looked at, especially when Reina's mistakes have been costly.
David De Gea wins this statistical battle with no trouble at all. Is he the best Spanish goalkeeper in the Premier League? Let me know in the comments section below and be sure to follow me on Twitter right here:
All statistics in this article are courtesy of Whoscored.