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Hugo Lloris: the worst, yet the best?

Hugo Lloris has been a revelation since getting his chance between the sticks for Spurs. However, in an interesting article last week by WhoScored.com, it was revealed that he has the worst save percentage among starting goalkeepers in the Premier League.

Could this be true?

Well indeed it is, as Hugo Lloris has only saved 61% of shots faced this season. Yet he has 7 clean sheets in his 15 appearances, the best record of any keeper in this time. So how has Hugo looked so commanding, yet has failed in the fundamental keeping category of shot saving?

Shots faced

The first place to look in is in the number of shots faced.

Andre Villas-Boas has really focussed on how we re-group after losing the ball. Not only have we deployed a higher defensive line this season, but we also see players rotating position, especially in the midfield.

This has led to us conceding the fewest shots in the Premier League, with just 9.5 per game. With Hugo Lloris letting in 13 goals, a low number of shots is a major factor, but isn’t the only reason why Hugo Lloris has a low save percentage.

Hugo Lloris is a puncher

One thing we all have noticed since Hugo Lloris has arrived at the Lane is that he is a vocal goalkeeper who has command of his area.

On crosses, and some shots, he is more inclined to punch balls clear, so much so that he is one of the most frequent punchers in the Premier League. Of starting shot-stoppers, only David de Gea and Julio Cesar are more common clearers via the fist than Hugo Lloris

Hugo Lloris the sweeper keeper

With Spurs deploying a higher defensive line this season, Hugo Lloris has been required to play the role of a sweeper keeper and mop up any balls played in behind. As a result, he has been the most active of any Premier League goalkeeper when it comes to clearing his lines.

Brad Friedel was very reluctant to come out and clear anything played over the top. During his stint between the sticks, we failed to keep a single clean sheet in any of his appearances in the Premier League. Hugo Lloris kept a clean sheet in his first start against Aston Villa and leaving his area to sweep up was a major factor in that.

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Hugo Lloris leaves his area to clear.

The Arsenal debacle

This is the biggest factor of all in why Hugo Lloris has such a low save percentage and why WhoScored’s article is factually correct, but a little skewed.

The match at the Emirates wasn’t a good day for any Spurs fan and Hugo Lloris spent most of it picking the ball out of our net. He only saved two of the seven shots on target that day as the Gooners ran up the score.

If you take the Arsenal match out of the equation, the save percentage of Hugo Lloris dramatically increases to a very nice 80.6% for his first season in England. This figure then sees him leap up WhoScored’s table to sit in second place among Premier League shot-stoppers, only just behind Swansea’s infrequent starter, Gerhard Tremmel.

That puts Hugo Lloris ahead of the save percentages of Petr Cech, David de Gea and Joe Hart.

The worst, yet the best?

Whilst I was taken aback by the WhoScored article, Hugo Loris’ save percentage has been drastically skewed by the defeat at the Emirates. Without this match, it could be argued that he is one of the best shot-stoppers in the Premier League.

Only Swansea rotation keeper Gerhard Tremmel would have a better save percentage than Spurs’ number one in this case. However, no one can compete with Lloris’ clean sheet frequency, with 7 in 15 appearances.

Save percentage isn’t the only statistic that should be taken in to account when assessing a goalkeeper though. Most have a game where they give up a few, but when your team doesn’t concede many shots in the first place, it’s harder to rectify a one-match blip.

It’s also difficult to quantify how much punching has an affect in save percentage. A keeper who is effective at clearing his lines in this way will naturally face fewer shots, as opposition crosses won’t find a teammate in the box.

The same could also be said of the sweeper keeper role that Hugo Lloris also plays, which also has an effect on the number of shots he will face.

So, whilst overall this season Hugo Lloris has the worst save percentage among Premier League goalkeepers, it could also be argued that he is one of the best.



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