Arsenal stopper Szczesny co-claimed the Premier League Golden Glove’s last season, with 16 clean sheets tying him with Chelsea’s Petr Cech.
Szczesny will be between the sticks as the two clubs come head-to-head at Stamford Bridge on Sunday, whilst Cech will likely be resigned to the bench for the game - despite his impressive displays last season.
A 10-year veteran for the Blues, highly-rated Cech was unfortunate to lose his place in the Chelsea first-team at the beginning of this season, with one of the few goalkeepers better than him returning to West London after a three-year loan to Atletico Madrid.
Thibaut Courtois has started every Premier League game for Jose Mourinho’s men since his return, cementing himself as first-choice stopper, despite his tender age of 22.
With Courtois taking part in his first London derby, we compare the two stoppers - and suggest who could play the bigger part in keeping the two remaining unbeaten runs in the Premier League intact.
|Won||Goals Conceded||Shots Faced||Saves||Save Percentage||Appearances|
Both ‘keepers have played every minute of Premier League action for their respective sides this season, and, despite still remaining unbeaten, both have conceded seven goals - a large tally for two top four sides.
For Courtois, it is even more surprising to see him concede seven goals in six games, with the quality of the defence in front of him - a defence that conceded just 27 goals in 38 Premier League games last season.
With the Belgian coming in to replace Petr Cech, and the defence remaining the same, one would predict the goals against tally would be even lower this season, but, whilst the defence are still doing their job, it appears as if Courtois is still finding his feet.
Despite facing fewer shots than Szczesny, Courtois has conceded the same amount - thus saving fewer of the attempts aimed at him. His save ratio of 68.4% is still impressive, but it pales in comparison to Polish international Szczesny’s 71.4%.
Whilst this may suggest that Arsenal have the larger chance for a clean sheet during the game, it must be known that Chelsea take more shots on average than their North London counterparts, with Chelsea registering 17.2 to the Gunners 15.2 per game. This means that, although their ‘keeper may save more shots, the Gunners will be facing more if the performances of both sides mirror the progression of the current season.
|Good High Claim||Cross Not Claimed|
Where Courtois defeats his positional rival though, is in cross claiming - a fact not surprising given his physical build. Whilst both ‘keepers have yet to fail claiming a cross, the Blues man has successfuly claimed possession back to his team more than double the amount of times that Szczesny has.
Given Arsenal’s preference for playing the ball along the floor, one would suggest that this would not matter in Sunday’s game, but it is actually the Gunners who prefer crossing the ball, averaging 26 per game - the second highest in the division. With a number of their chances coming from the wings, it would appear as if the selection of Courtois will be justified with his key skill coming in frequent use.
For Szczesny, he should not be too worried with his lack of cross claiming ability, with Chelsea playing just 18 per game on average, although the Blues certainly have the physical presence to capitalise on any goalkeeping mistakes in-and-around the six-yard area.
It promises to be a riveting game at Stamford Bridge, and, if it follows the course of recent seasons, the goalkeepers may be the most important players for their respective teams. With both clubs fighting to retain their unbeaten records heading into the international break, it may take the brilliance of Thibaut Courtois and Wojciech Szczesny to decide the outcome of the Premier League game.