First XI

Albion Analytics: 50 Premier League games for Rob Sanchez

Keeper becomes the third Academy graduate to reach the milestone.

By Liam Tharme • 17 February 2022

By Paul Hazlewood
Robert Sanchez was in fine form on his 50th Premier League appearance at Old Trafford

Robert Sanchez brought up a half century of Premier League appearances for the Albion when he started against Manchester United at Old Trafford on Tuesday.

The Spaniard becomes the third Albion academy graduate to make this number of Premier League appearances for the club (after Lewis Dunk – 159 and Solly March – 129). The Cartagena-born ‘keeper is one of 14 players to be given a Premier League debut by Graham Potter when aged 23 or younger.

This season, Sanchez (2069) is one of just four 1997 (or later) born goalkeepers to have registered over 2000 minutes. His 50 Premier League appearances have seen as many wins as losses (14) and more clean sheets than games lost (17 versus 14), with draws in almost half (22). In his debut Premier League season, only Ederson, Edouard Mendy and Emi Martinez could better Sanchez’s clean sheet rate (37%); Brighton took 31 points from 27 games with Sanchez between the sticks in 2020/21.

Impressively, Sanchez has shipped just 50 goals in 50 games (1 per game), with the Seagulls scoring 51 in that time and subsequently earning 64 points (1.28PPG) from those games.

In game 50, Sanchez saved five of the seven United shots on target he was faced with, including four saves from shots inside the box, whilst completing 72% of his passes, a better completion rate than opposition ‘keeper and compatriot David de Gea, despite Sanchez kicking higher and longer more frequently.

SofaScore’s player rating algorithm has Sanchez’s best of his 50 appearances coming in the 2-0 home win against Brentford on Boxing Day of this season. As per StatsBomb data, that night Sanchez saved all five shots on target, preventing an additional goal (based on xG), stopping two crosses and completing 23/36 passes attempted.

His outstanding shot-stopping ability and 1v1 performances have seen him boast save percentages among the top eight goalkeepers in both Premier League seasons – 76% this season, an improvement from 71% last season.

That said, not every shot is equal in terms of quality, thus xG data can be used to work out the goals a goalkeeper prevents above the average (effectively the reverse of using xG to evaluate a striker’s finishing).

Across 50 games, Sanchez has prevented 6 extra goals than an average goalkeeper, and over the last year he ranks inside the top third of top five EU league goalkeepers in this metric, save percentage (72.2%) and defensive actions outside his box (one every 107 minutes). The triple threat – shot-stopping, box defending and distribution – is what makes Sanchez so valuable. Across the same time frame, he ranks inside the top 15% of Europe’s most elite goalkeepers for proportion of crosses stopped (10.4%), and inside the top 5% for passes (36.3 per game).

Of course, the Spanish international does benefit from Brighton’s build-from-the-back style, but he did set an Opta record for most passes completed (58) by a goalkeeper in a Premier League game – his three chances created are only bettered by Wolves’ Jose Sa (4) among ‘keepers in England’s top-flight this season. Whilst that stat may seem superfluous, they are evidence of his ability and technique execution to bypass an entire defence with one pass.