Although we had a match today, all the Carling Cup Final talk about goalies and Arsenal got me thinking. Below are charts of Fulham’s and the Sky Four’s starting goalies since 2005-06 (or, the first season Arsenal began their current trophy-less streak). (Ed. if not embedded, just follow the link. Anyone know how to fix this?)
Considering the number of starts include every competition, and thus each team plays a different amount of games each season depending on their various domestic and international cup campaigns, the key is obviously the percentage(s). A high percentage often means stability. Stability often means success.
In each of Chelsea’s and United’s title winning season, their #1 goalie started just about 75% of the matches. Liverpool haven’t won a title — they however did win an FA Cup and make an CL Final appearance in this span — yet they still sport a pretty damn good percentage with Reina. Meanwhile, Arsenal are looking at a fourth straight season of their #1 not even hitting that 75% threshold. Which is probably why they haven’t won a title in this span nor made any final appearance since 2006.
For Fulham, just looking at the numbers shows this is really Schwarzer’s job. Had he not gone to Qatar for the Asian Cup, his percentage could easily be above 85% this season. Although Stockdale has shown immense promise, and Mark is the biannual subject of transfer talk, we may miss him more than we think if he ever does leave.
Just to add a little context, I tried to think of a struggling team that has used a lot of goalies. But compiling all this data was a bit cumbersome, so I just used Derby’s 2006-07 season to show the nadir. Boy were they a mess.