Dean Henderson stakes a claim to be England's best goalkeeper as Sheffield United man outperforms David De Gea, Jordan Pickford and Co.

Chris Wilder, the Sheffield United manager, backed Dean Henderson as England’s best goalkeeper at the weekend after another commanding display against AFC Bournemouth.

By Danny Hall
Tuesday, 11th February 2020, 1:20 pm

But do the stats back up that view? We dived into the numbers in an attempt to discover whether Henderson is worthy of the No.1 shirt at this summer’s European Championships, based on his displays for the Blades this season.

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Sheffield United goalkeeper Dean Henderson, on loan from Manchester United

Dean Henderson vs the best of the rest

Last updated: Tuesday, 11 February, 2020, 11:30

In an attempt to at least try and compare apples with apples, we've taken a look at Henderson's performance data this season and compared it with the Premier League stats of his fellow top goalkeepers; namely Jordan Pickford, Nick Pope, Alisson, Ederson, David De Gea and Kasper Schmeichel. All data is courtesy of WyScout s.P.a.

First up is everyone's favourite stat... expected goals. Known as xG, the model that has been widely accepted in international football circles as a balanced way to assess a side or player’s performances and takes into account the likelihood of a goal being scored from a certain area on the pitch. So a shot from a central angle, for example, is worth more than one from out wide and a header is worth less than a shot with the ball at feet. Basically, an ‘xG rating’ rates the attacking and defensive output of a side.

In the graph above, we see Henderson's xCG (expected conceded goals) as exactly one per game, based on the quality of chances teams have had against him. His actual CG is 0.77, meaning he's outperforming what should be expected of him. Contrast that with Jordan Pickford and Nick Pope, his England rivals, whose number of goals conceded is higher than the expected number.

A lot of that, of course, can also be down to the defenders in front of the goalkeeper and Henderson has faced far fewer shots (92) than Pickford (147) and Pope (121) this season - a stat which reflects well on United's defensive unit, too.

But on saves per game, Henderson (2.46) again outperforms Pickford (2.35) and Manchester City's Ederson (2.01), even if all are behind Pope (2.96). Interestingly Henderson's percentage of shots saved, 53, is higher than Pickford, Alisson, De Gea and Schmeichel. So, although United do a sterling job of protecting their goalkeeper, Henderson also comes up with the goods when called upon.

Wyscout defines this category as 'exits' which, basically, is 'keepers coming off their line for crosses. Henderson has done so 40 times this season - curiously, twice as many as Liverpool's Alisson - with Nick Pope again leading the way by this metric. But will these stats be enough to earn Henderson the No.1 shirt at the Euros this summer? Chris Wilder thinks it should...

“Dean is making a case to get in the England team outright, yes. I’ve maintained it all along, if there’s a better goalie in the division right now then I don’t know who that is." - Chris Wilder, Blades manager

Chris Wilder
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