Young goalkeeper Jordan Pickford has joined Everton for £30m. In the first of a series on Everton’s summer signings, I take a look at Jordan Pickford’s statistics and what they tell us about Everton’s inaugural acquisition.
Pickford kept 4 clean sheets in the 2016/17 season, a poor return on first look, but Pickford was playing behind an utterly abject defence that offered his goal little protection. Pickford’s shot stopping credentials can be truly seen through the number of saves he made per game – at 4.61, Pickford made more stops per game than any other Premier League keeper. He also saved 73% of the shots he faced, behind only Hugo Lloris and Tom Heaton in the league. We can expect Pickford to face far less shots this season than last, so the technical side of his goalkeeping, such as his positioning and dominance of his penalty box, may be the area in which we should look to give us an idea of how he will cope this season.
Pickford claimed 98% of the crosses he went for last season and completed 23 punches, which places him 2nd behind only Heurelho Gomes in that department. For a young goalkeeper to have such good command of his area is unusual and will serve the Everton defence a big advantage, as when defending leads or away points the goalkeeper can take pressure off the defence by claiming long balls rather than risking a penalty box scramble or a kindly drop to a player waiting on the edge of the area. We saw this against Stoke on Saturday as Pickford punched away every single ball he went for. Although some bemoan the use of punches it is worth noting that Pickford is only 6”1, which is comparatively short for a goalkeeper. This lack of height means claiming crosses is more difficult as he will be contesting with taller players within the penalty area, therefore a firm punch out of danger may occasionally be a safer option than an attempt to catch.
The area in which Pickford stands out is his distribution. Although his distribution success rate is fairly low at 50%, it is worth noting that this was the 3rd best out of keepers whose average pass length was over 50 metres, meaning that even with David Moyes’ instructions to hit goal kicks long, Pickford was finding his man half of the time. Bearing in mind that Sunderland played last season with 5”7 Jermain Defoe as the lone striker, this suggests that Pickford’s accuracy of kicking is far more impressive than the 50% gives him credit for. Anyone who watched the Stoke game on Saturday seen the accuracy of Pickford’s wide passes to Calvert-Lewin and Martina from his penalty area, and Pickford indeed completed 85% of passes to players within his own half. However none of his long kicks found their man, suggesting one area of improvement would be the accuracy of his long goal kicks. If Everton do sign a target man as predicted, this stat will improve as the likelihood of an Everton forward winning an aerial ball increases.
I believe I speak for all Evertonians when I say we very much like what we see from Jordan Pickford, and he has all the makings to become yet another famous Everton number one.
*All stats were taken from Squakwa.