Arsenal

Arsenal

Premier League • England

How Jordan Pickford compares to Arsenal no.1 David Raya amid shock transfer consideration

Ryan Baldi
Jordan Pickford and David Raya

Arsenal are interested in Everton's Pickford but what's he like compared to Raya?

Arsenal’s push this season for a first Premier League title in 20 years has been built as much on a stern defensive record as a potent attack.

With two games left to play, the Gunners are top of the table, one point clear of chasing champions Manchester City who have a game in hand. Mikel Arteta’s side have scored more goals (88) than any other team in the league while also conceding the fewest (28).

Yet despite Arsenal’s outstanding statistics at both ends of the pitch, they appear to be eying a goalkeeping upgrade this summer.

As exclusively revealed by TEAMtalk, the 13-time champions are ready to rival Chelsea’s interest in Everton and England No.1 Jordan Pickford.

Spanish shot-stopper David Raya was something of a controversial signing for Arsenal last summer when he was brought in on loan from Brentford. The Gunners had spent £30 million to sign Aaron Ramsdale from Sheffield United just two years earlier and Arteta earned criticism for undermining the Englishman’s position by bringing in another high-quality goalkeeper to compete for the starting role between the sticks at the Emirates.

It didn’t take Raya long to win that duel, though, with Ramsdale limited to just six Premier League appearances while the Spaniard has started the other 30 fixtures.

Now, it seems the Arsenal manager is apparently still not content with his options in goal. But how much of an upgrade would Pickford be?

Pickford fits with passing philosophy

One trait Pickford shares with Arsenal’s current competing custodians is that he is very comfortable with the ball at his feet. It is a key tenet of Arteta’s playing style that the goalkeeper is able to receive the ball from his defenders and confidently contribute to the team’s build-up.

The 60-cap Three Lions star has an excellent range of passing with his left foot, able to play high to augment his side’s outfield numbers and remain an outlet form pressured defenders as well as being able to switch play from one side of the pitch to the other or pick out an advancing forward in the channels. These are assets that would enable the 30-year-old to fit quickly into Arteta’s system.

A delve into the two players’ advanced goalkeeping stats also suggests Pickford is a more capable shot-stopper than Raya.

While Raya has conceded fewer goals and kept more clean sheets than Pickford this term, this is to be expected due to the fact the former Blackburn man plays for one of the Premier League’s most dominant teams and behind the highest-performing backline in the country.

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Stark difference over saves

When it comes to the value added by the saves Pickford makes, however, a stark disparity emerges between the two keepers. According to fbref.com’s data, Pickford ranks in the 72nd percentile among goalkeepers in Europe’s five major leagues over the past year in terms of goals prevented. Calculated by subtracting the number of goals he has conceded from the post-shot expected goals value – an xG measure than not only takes into account what position on the pitch a shot comes from but also what part of the goal it hits – of shots he has faced, Pickford’s saves have had a +0.07 value.

Raya, on the other hand, ranks in the 35th percentile, with a value of -0.05, meaning he has prevented fewer goals than expected based on the quality of shots he has faced.

Pickford also saves a slightly higher percentage of the shots he faces, repelling 73.4 per cent, which ranks him in the 69th percentile among goalkeepers in Europe’s top five divisions, versus Raya’s 72.3 per cent, which put the Arsenal man in the 60th percentile.

Jordan Pickford and David Raya stats

Both players perform well when it comes to the duties of a sweeper-keeper operating behind a high defensive line. Pickford averages 1.36 defensive actions outside the penalty area per 90 minutes (78th percentile) and the average distance from goal of all his defensive actions is 16.3 yards, which is in the 81st percentile.

Raya’s 1.62 defensive actions outside the box per 90 puts him in the 86th percentile, while his average distance from goal for all defensive actions of 17.5 yards is in the 92nd percentile. However, while these numbers would suggest Raya is the more able sweeper-keeper, the disparity is likely a function of the four-cap Spain international playing behind a higher defensive line at the Emirates than Pickford in Sean Dyche’s side.

One area in which Raya categorically outshines Pickford, though, is in his ability to deal with crosses. Although Pickford, at 6ft 1, is listed as being slightly taller than the 6ft Raya, the Spaniard stops 13 per cent of the crosses that enter his penalty area, which puts him in the 99th percentile, while Pickford stops just 5.6 per cent (48th percentile).

So the evidence suggests that Pickford would be a downgrade in terms of commanding the Arsenal penalty area, but he would represent an improvement in the most foundational part of a goalkeeper’s remit – keeping the ball out of the net.

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