Chelsea was forced to use former Brighton & Hove Albion shot-stopper Robert Sanchez after first-choice goalkeeper Kepa Arrizabalaga made a last minute, somewhat unexpected, loan move to Real Madrid. Sanchez was acquired from the Seagulls for £25 million, and many believe the idea was for him to be a backup. That is irrelevant now, because this question wouldn’t need to be asked if he was indeed the Blues backup shot-stopper, but he is, so: how good is Robert Sanchez?
Sanchez has been a Premier League level goalkeeper for the last four years, and you don’t get to this level of the game by being a bad shot-stopper. Therefore it’s near impossible to make the case that he is a bad goalkeeper. To answer the question of how good he is, Chelsea fans have to understand that many metrics that are used to judge goalkeepers have – in fact – very little to do with the goalkeepers themselves. A goalkeeper’s performance is always dependent on the quality and number of shots he faces per game, and that means raw clean sheet numbers, or raw goals conceded numbers would not accurately measure a goalkeeper’s prowess.
Save percentages, in and off themselves, cannot tell you who a good goalkeeper is, though it gives you an indication. We start by scrutinizing Sanchez’s Premier League save rates. According to Sofascore, Sanchez’s highest save rate in this league was in his first Premier League season with Brighton, where he saved 72% of the shots he faced. He did relatively well in the following season, saving 70% of his shots, but he has averaged a 67% save rate from his Premier League debut till date, largely because he recorded a 62% save rate from 23 league games last season.
Truth be told, 70-73% is the benchmark for a good Premier League goalkeeper, and the Chelsea No. 13 has hit that in two of his last three seasons. Considering that he has just about hit the benchmark, when he has, it suggests Sanchez is an OK goalkeeper at this level, what this means is that if the stars align, you could win the league title with Sanchez between the sticks, but he cannot be the difference maker in title challenges (See also Ramsdale, Aaron).