Analysis: Where does Kasper Schmeichel rank amongst Premier League sides chasing Europa League qualification?

The subject of recent criticism, where does the Leicester shot-stopper fare amongst the Premier League's Europa League contenders?

Analysis: Where does Kasper Schmeichel rank amongst Premier League sides chasing Europa League qualification?
Kasper Schmeichel has faced much criticism this season| Photo: Getty/ Matthew Lewis

A 2-1 defeat away to Burnley at the weekend saw Leicester City fall nine points behind their most recent opponents and fall further behind in the race for a possible Europa League place next season.

Foxes goalkeeper Kasper Schmeichel has been on the receiving end of criticism recently and conceding two goals in the first 10 minutes of the game did not do him any justice. This was despite pulling off an impressive save in a one-on-one against Chris Wood, only for the striker to tap in the rebound immediately afterwards. 

Claude Puel has taken Leicester from 14th to a more respectable 8th place in the Premier League table, but given the amount of talent on display at Leicester it is only natural the fans would be expecting to finish in a higher position and want to see the return of European football to the King Power Stadium.

Schmeichel bottom of the pile for shut-outs

Is the criticism being aimed towards Schmeichel justified? The first, and most glaring statistic that suggests it is would  is clean sheets in comparison to Leicesters nearest rival for 7th in Burnley's Nick Pope, whilst also adding the goalkeepers of clubs currently in Europa League positions in Petr Čech of Arsenal and Thibaut Courtois of Chelsea.

Schmeichel finds himself at the bottom of the list with 8 clean sheets, whilst Pope and Cech are tied for second on 10 respectively, leaving Courtois top of the pile with 13.

Foxes' leaky defence costs the stopper

Schmeichel's bad luck continues as he is again at the bottom having conceded the most goals - 47. Čech is not far behind on 45, whilst Courtois finds himself in second on 30 leaving Pope to top the list having only conceded 25 goals in 30 appearances in what has been an impressive season for the Burnley 'keeper.

Having scored 49 goals so far this season, it is evident that Leicester need to tighten things up at the back in order to give themselves a chance of capitalising on all the goals the likes of Jamie Vardy are netting this season instead of them being mere consolations.

The introduction of Alexsandar Dragović to partner the impressive Harry Maguire at the heart of the Leicester defence seems a viable option, and possibly a player worth investing in once his loan spell comes to an end this season to add defensive stability. This would give Schmeichel more of a chance to keep more clean sheets having a stronger defensive partnership in-front of him.

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Shot-stopping the strength for Schmeichel jr.

When he is called upon however, he usually performs, in relation to the saves he has to make. Schmeichel comes out on top of the pile having pulled off an impressive 86 saves this season, whilst Pope is hot on his heels with 85. 

Cech finds himself in third with 73, and surprisingly Courtois finds himself in last place with 53 saves respectively. From this stat it is evident to see that Schmeichel has the ability and shows that he is a good goalkeeper, but is being over-worked by a weak defence which increases his goals conceded ratio.

This is supported by Schmeichel having to make 1.87 saves per goal he concedes, placing him third on the list, with Courtois ahead of him by 0.2 with a total of 1.89. Nick Pope pulls off 3.40 saves per goal he concedes which leaves him miles above Cech in last place who averages 1.62 saves per goal conceded.

Modern demands of a goalkeeper supports his inclusion

An increasingly important stat in the modern game, distribution accuracy is becoming key to a goalkeeper's game. Schmeichel finds himself 4th on the list with a 71% accuracy, 10% more than that of Pope who sits bottom with 61%. Cech lands in second spot with a very respectful 95% but Courtois has not misplaced any of his distribution attempts this season and sits comfortably at the top of the list with a 100% distribution rate.

In Schmeichel's defence, his may be slightly higher if it was not for the fact that he has one of the Premier League's biggest counter-attack threats in Jamie Vardy to aim for, and as a result is always looking to quickly release him via through balls/long balls.

Schmeichel also comes out on top in terms of successful catches (99) which goes to show that when it comes down to it, he is a steady pair of hands. Pope is next to follow with 96, Cech with 73 and lastly Courtois on 57.

With regards to number of successful punches, both Schmeichel and Courtois share top spot with 20 respectfully, with Pope coming in next with 20 and Cech at the bottom with a disappointing nine. These stats provide further evidence of Schmeichel's goalkeeping quality, and further highlight the fact that he needs a solid defensive partner for Harry Maguire to help protect him during games.

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Conclusion

It can be argued, then, that the criticism facing Schmeichel is slightly unfair due to a lack of cover or protection especially when compared to that of the other sides chasing Europa League qualification. If Leicester want to bring European nights back to the King Power, investment at the back should be a main priority, and not a new goalkeeper.