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First Team

Guaita: Palace's best ever Premier League 'keeper?

13 June 2020

This week, we’re reviewing the season so far for five of Crystal Palace’s most influential players, explaining their role in the last 29 matches and what to expect from them in the upcoming nine. Time for Vicente Guaita...

After arriving from Getafe in summer 2018, Vicente Guaita swiftly asserted himself as one of Crystal Palace's greatest goalkeepers in the modern era. This season, having cemented his place as the Eagles' first choice, he proved to be one of the club's greatest goalkeepers - period. 

With instinctive, lightning-fast reactions, Guaita has provided some of the highlights of 2019/20.

Now, he appears to be on course to help the club set a new Premier League record.

In 1994/95, with the great Nigel Martyn between the sticks, Palace conceded just 49 goals from 46 games. So far this season, they have shipped 32 from 29. At this stage of a Premier League season, Palace's best defensive record was 31 goals from 29 matches ('94/95), so should the Eagles enjoy a solid last nine games, they could be on course to have conceded the fewest Premier League goals per match in the club's history.

Guaita's nine clean sheets this season make him a way behind Martyn's 14 in '94/95 (though the season was four matches longer), but put him joint-fifth in the Premier League so far - level with the likes of Manchester City's Ederson and ahead of United's David de Gea and Arsenal's Bernd Leno. 

Furthermore, Guaita has conceded 28 of Palace's 32 goals this season, fewer than 12 other top flight 'keepers. His numbers consistently rank amongst the most notable goalkeepers in the league - sitting in the top half of all major 'keeping stats.

Breaking down the performance behind the figures, Guaita has two clear strengths: shot stopping and guarding his area.

The Spaniard has made by far the most punches in the league this season (21, with Tim Krul second on 17) and the fifth-most high claims (17). Guaita's confidence in protecting his box is abundantly clear, and the sometimes fretted-over art of punching - typically favoured by Spanish goalkeepers - has been mastered by one of the league's slighter glovesmen. 

And, beyond the lengthy reel of eye catching saves and match-winning heroics, Guaita's basic shot stopping ability is clear, too, with the No.31 conceding almost exclusively from within the box.

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Only two goals have gone past him from outside the area, and no one has beaten the Spaniard with a direct free-kick.

For context, Brighton & Hove Albion, AFC Bournemouth and Newcastle United have conceded four, five and six times from outside the box respectively.

Guaita's talent between the sticks creates a lot of headlines, but there is one last stat that perhaps proves his ability more than any other.

Crystal Palace have the greatest negative differential in the Premier League for expected goals conceded. This season, the Eagles' expected goals against is 44.2.

Their actual total of 32 makes them the sixth tightest defence in the league, however, in stark contrast to the expected goals prediction of 13th. 

This is the most significant difference for any Premier League club (positive or negative), and can be laid in large part at the feet and gloves of Vicente Guaita.

Highlights so far

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Over December, Guaita earned three eToro Man of the Match awards after conceding just four goals from six matches. Naturally, he collected the ManBetX Player of the Month trophy across both November and December. 

The shot stopper's stand-out moments in particular include three matchwinning saves against Southampton, superhuman reflexes v Wolverhampton Wanderers and a point-blank stop facing West Ham United.

With nine tough matches coming up, expect to see a lot more of the same from Palace's eccentric shot stopper.

Tomorrow (Sunday, 14th), we'll take a look at Wilfried Zaha's talismanic function on cpfc.co.uk and the official Palace app!

READ NEXT: How inspired summer signing Cahill became integral to Palace's season

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