Friday, 8 March 2013

Player Spotlight: Jussi Jaaskelainen

# 22
Jussi Jaaskelainen
DOB: 19/04/1975
Position: Goalkeeper

West Ham United Career
Joined: 13/06/2012
From: Bolton Wanderers
Reported Fee: Free Trasnfer

League Appearances: 28
Clean Sheets: 8
Goals Conceded:41
Average Capello Index Rating: 60.48

Debut: 18/08/2012 vs Aston Villa
Debut Clean Sheet: 18/08/2012 vs Aston Villa

Jussi Jaaskelainen arrived at West Ham in June 2012 after a 15 year spell at Bolton Wanderers to replace the QPR bound Robert Green. The Finnish keeper had racked up over 500 appearances in the North West, and had been one of the more consistent goalkeepers in the Premier League over the past decade.

However, now aged 37, and having lost his Bolton place to the underwhelming Adam Bogdan in their relegation season, it's fair to say that not all West Ham fans were impressed with the arrival.

Jaaskelainen is right up there as one of the more divisive members of the squad. Some fans who I speak to are happy to have an experienced, solid goalkeeper in the squad, whilst others see him as an over the hill liability. 

Personally, I'm a fan of Jussi, and I think there are plenty worse goalkeepers in the league. But I decided to take a look at the stats to see which viewpoint is supported by evidence.

To date, 31 different goalkeepers have made 5 or more Premier League appearances this season, with Jaaskelainen one of just five to have managed 90 minutes in all 28 games (along with Hart, Begovic & Al-Habsi). I started to look at numbers of clean sheets, number of saves and the like, but that seemed a little unfair on goalkeepers like our former number one, Robert Green, who has played around 1,800 minutes less than Jussi this season.

To combat this issue I've decided to compare all of these goalkeepers based on performance over 90 minutes. For example, Jaaskelainen has managed 8 clean sheets in the league this season, meaning he keeps a clean sheet once in every 3.50 90 minutes.

The league average for 90 minutes per clean sheets is 4.35, meaning Jaaskelainen keeps clean sheets more regularly than the average, and comes in in 15th place out of the 31. The chart below shows Jaaskelainen's performance in this area against the best in the league (Joe Hart) and the worst in the league (Pablo Gazzaniga), and the two players immediately above and below (Michel Vorm & Mark Bunn).The red line depicts the league average.

In terms of goals conceded, only Brad Guzan (49), and Ali Al-Habsi (55) have conceded more than Jaaskelainen this season. Jussi posts slightly below the average for minutes per goal conceded. On average, Premier League goalkeepers have conceded a goal once every 67.1 minutes. Jaaskelainen has conceded once ever 61.5 minutes.

However, despite conceding more regularly than the league average, it's important to recognise that Jaaskelainen is forced into a save every 22.7 minutes, making him the fifth most worked goalkeeper in the league.

The league average for minutes per save is 32.03, meaning Jaaskelainen make a save 9 minutes more regularly than other keepers in the league. He also posts a league high total number of saves (111), as one of just two goalkeepers to have reached the 100 mark (Simon Mignolet, 100).

Again, the chart below shows the best (Brad Jones), worst (Kelvin Davis), and the two 'keepers directly above and below Jussi in the measure (Julio Cesar & John Ruddy).

One area of particular concern that many fans have about Jussi is his distribution. Indeed, his passing accuracy posts at just 51.8%. But this is not as bad as it might seem. Jussi comes in at 17th for goalkeeper passing accuracy, only just below of the league average of 53.2%. Anders Lindegaard and Pepe Reina lead the way with 72.5% and 72.1%, whilst Norwich pair John Ruddy (32.8%) and Mark Bunn (31.8%) are a long way below the league average.

Interestingly, former West Ham goalkeeper Robert Green has the fourth worst distribution in the league, with just 39.5% of his passing reaching their target.

Another point of interest with regards to distribution, is that a massive 88% of Jaaskelainen's passes have been long balls. Despite this being a very high figure, this actually only puts Jussi in sixth place, with Adam Federici, Mark Bunn, Alex McCarthy, Asmir Begovic & John Ruddy all going long with more than 89% of their passes.

However, it seems to make sense for Jussi to go long, as he posts the fifth best long ball accuracy in the league, with 46.8% of his long balls reaching the mark (only Wojciech Szczesny, Asmir Begovic, Ali Al-Habsi & Vito Mannone can boast a better record.

A final point on passing, is an argument that I have regularly used in Jussi's defence. When people criticise his kicking, I often say "well, when we make him kick it as often as we do, some are bound to go astray." Well, Jussi has attempted 498 passes this season, only six keepers have attempted more.

However, my argument is not supported by the stats. Despite having a very high pass count, this appears very differently when looking at minutes per pass. Jaaskelainen attempts a pass once every 5.05 minutes, which puts him at 16th in the list. 

It's a bit difficult to reach a conclusion on Jaaskelainen. I like him, and I'll make no secret of that. But I don't think these stats will change the opinions of fans who don't like him. I suppose that means that the stats show Jussi to be exactly what he is: a divisive figure.

He's made the most saves in the league, but tends to come out at above average in most measures.

In reality, Jussi is a good fit for West Ham at the moment. He's about average in most areas, and for a club hoping for a bit of mid table stability, he's probably about as good as we can expect for the time being.

And, if you ever need a bit of a reality check, just remember that he's outperforming England's Number Six pretty much across the board.


  1. You use average as your would it look if you used median?...

  2. I tend to dislike median as a tool, but it is something I can look at. The numbers tend to be fairly evenly spread across the players, so the average was not particularly distorted in any measure.