David de Gea’s dreadful penalty save record – the stats behind the facts

by Red Billy

Several weeks ago, The Peoples Person published an article noting that David de Gea has not saved a penalty since the 2015/16 season, but today statistics experts @UtdArena have gone one better and analysed exactly what has gone wrong for the Spaniard.

@UtdArena have worked out what percentage of the 18 penalties would normally have been saved by a keeper in the Premier League by averaging out save data.

Their chart shows that de Gea had a 65% chance of saving 4 or more of the 18 penalties and a 95.28% chance of saving at least two.

‘A bad or “unfortunate” keeper would have perhaps only saved 1/18 or 2/18. De Gea saved 0/18’, the report concludes.

Fans were asked why they think de Gea’s penalty save history is so bad.

‘Psychological. He misses that commanding aura VdS/Schmeichel had. Opponents won’t be intimidated taking pens against him. But I do believe that aggression/command is something that can be added to his game, bearing in mind some keepers have come into their own post 30’ one respondent noted.

‘He’s simply a shocking penalty keeper’ said another.

The comparison with United’s on-loan keeper Dean Henderson is dramatic. Since Henderson started his loan spell at Shrewsbury Town in 2017/18, the 22-year-old has saved an incredible seven out of 13 penalties. He is yet to concede a penalty in the Premier League or the Championship.

Fans who were around in the days of United legend Peter Schemichel will recall how the Great Dane seemed to make himself look bigger when facing a penalty, and that is a trait that Henderson has tried to replicate and which de Gea does not seem able to master.

‘All the greats … are intimidating to anyone about to take a penalty. They had a presence that could have an unbelievable effect on an opponent’ goalkeeping coach Eric Steele commented recently.

Of course, physical stature has a lot to do with that ability. Schmeichel was 1.96m tall (6ft 5 inches) and stocky, whereas de Gea is 1.89m (6ft 2 inches) and wiry. Henderson, though, is half an inch shorter than the Spaniard.

Whatever the reason for de Gea’s poor record, United fans will be hoping that he can put an end to his penalty jinx at the earliest opportunity and answer his critics in emphatic style.

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