Swansea City manager Graham Potter decided to stick with goalkeeper Kristoffer Nordfeldt at Sheffield Wednesday last Saturday after drafting the Swede back in for the FA Cup 5th round tie against Brentford.
It was a surprise move from Potter as we thought he had established Erwin Mulder back as his number one after Nordfeldt’s less than convincing performance in the 2-1 defeat away at Rotherham United.
After that game, Mulder played the next 16 consecutive League games. Nordfeldt started the season as Potter’s first choice until he picked up an injury during our first home game of the season against Preston North End.
Mulder had come in and done brilliantly until he was suddenly dropped for the trip to Wigan Athletic back in October 2018. He was benched for a six-game spell before his return following that Rotherham defeat. However, he has not looked like the same player as he was earlier in the season and you’re left wondering if getting dropped momentarily affected his confidence.
Potter faces a conundrum with his goalkeepers. Mulder has proven to the better of the two when it comes to saves. His save percentage of 72.6% is much better than Nordfeldt’s 64.5%. The main factor in Nordfeldt’s favour is his superior passing ability.
In terms of passing only, the last two league games offer a fair comparison as both goalkeepers were up against a high press. You can clearly see below via the pass radars the contrast in styles.
Erwin Mulder was far more direct, kicking long with a low passing percentage when aiming his passes directly forwards. His pass accuracy at Leeds United was only 61.9%.
Nordfeldt, at Sheffield Wednesday, was more confident to stick to Potter’s principles of passing out short and despite coming up against a good and intense press from the Owls, he managed an excellent 91.5% accuracy.
Passing isn’t everything though. Potter is clearly a manager who wants his goalkeeper to add to his side’s deep build-up play and he probably doesn’t want a goalkeeper who isn’t confident against a high press who often kicks long which leads to possession being lost.
However, Nordfeldt’s passing ability surely isn’t enough to get him into the team when his key goalkeeping skills haven’t been up to standard so far. Too weak with his hands in saving shots not to mention looking vulnerable in the air, he could count himself lucky to be back in the starting line-up in recent weeks.
— Swans Analytics (@SwansAnalytics) February 26, 2019
Potter probably wishes he could combine both players’ best attributes together into one goalkeeper!