Talking Tactics | Freddie Woodman
Football stats experts WhoScored look at the impact Newcastle United loanee Freddie Woodman has made during his time so far with Swansea City.
With all football on a hiatus for the foreseeable future to help combat the Coronavirus pandemic that is gripping the world, it is as good a time as any to take stock of the season.
For Swansea City, this is no different. Prior to the campaign's suspension, the Swans were 11th in the Championship, but just three points off the play-off spots.
It is tight in England's second tier and any side that could put a run of form together would vastly improve their chances of a top-six finish. A run of one loss in the last six left Swansea on the coat tails of those chasing promotion via the play-offs and it's their commendable defensive record that leaves them so close to the top six.
Their return of 45 goals may not be the best in the Championship, yet it ranks among the top third of teams in the division, so it's clearly played a vital role in the Swans' push up the table.
This comes despite Steve Cooper having endured his fair share of injury woes as Swansea boss. Indeed, he has been forced to use no fewer than five different centre-backs this season due to respective absences of the likes of Mike van der Hoorn and Joe Rodon, but between the sticks; a summer arrival has shone.
Freddie Woodman joined from Newcastle United on a season-long loan last summer and has not disappointed. The 23-year-old has started all 37 league matches for Swansea this term and has kept 11 clean sheets in those games; only three shotstoppers have kept more.
His 98 saves, the seventh best return in the Championship, is a key reason for those 11 clean sheets, while three of those saves have come in denying opponents from the penalty spot.
It's a better return than any other goalkeeper in England's second tier this term and it has seen Woodman develop a statistically-calculated WhoScored.com strength of 'penalty saving', that in itself deemed very strong. Woodman arrived with a big reputation and huge potential, with his commanding performances between the sticks belying his tender years and helping return a WhoScored.com rating of 6.67.
Woodman isn't just an impressive performer when denying opponents either. With goalkeepers now expected to become an 11th outfielder when their team has the ball, the youngster hasn't disappointed as his pass success rate of 70.6% suggests. That return is the second best of Championship goalkeepers to make more than 15 league appearances this season.
Cooper had a clear plan when he was appointed last summer and it was his willingness to buy into the ethos of the club that made him the best candidate to succeed Graham Potter at the Liberty Stadium helm.
Woodman has evidently bought into the approach and excelled as not only the last line of defence, but has been essential in instigating attacks from the back as he maximises a WhoScored.com strength of 'long passing'.
Woodman has quickly become a fan favourite at the Liberty Stadium and it is easy to see why. His performances have drawn admirers across the league and beyond, and at his age there is certainly more to come from the young shotstopper once football is back.