Last season FK Bodø/Glimt were so good that even a global pandemic couldn’t stop them from absolutely dominating the Eliteserien like we’ve never seen before, smashing countless records along the way.
The deadly trio of Philip Zinckernagel (now at Watford), Jens Petter Hauge (AC Milan) and Kasper Junker (Urawa Reds) put the sword to any would-be challengers while an assured backline of Fredrik Andre Bjørkan (6.0mNOK), Marius Høibråten (5.0mNOK), Marius Lode (5.0mNOK) and Alfons Sampsted (5.5mNOK) made them more-or-less impossible to beat.
Defensive midfielder Patrick Berg (6.0mNOK) showed exactly why he’s one of the most talked-about young Norwegian players with another excellent campaign, further solidifying his reputation as the engine that drives the team on match after match without reprieve.
The Rosenborg Unbeatables of 2010 had an incredible season but even they would have been torn apart by the 2020 champions. Quite simply put, this Glimt side are the best the Eliteserien has ever seen and despite losing a number of key players, 2021 looks to be another fruitful year for everyone’s favourite club in the Arctic Circle.
Check out the table below to see the records they broke last season:
• Finished 19 points above second-placed Molde FK
• Scored 26 more goals than anyone else
• Conceded fewest goals
• Conceded just 11 goals in 15 home games (fewest in the division)
• Won 6 more games than anyone else
• Lost 5 fewer games than anyone else
Unsurprisingly Philip Zinckernagel was named player of the year after he produced a record 37 direct goal involvements (19G, 18A – most in division) and Kasper Junker took home the Golden Boot, scoring 27 goals in just over 22 games (a goal every 75 minutes).
Zinckernagel also made more key passes (99 – 3.54 per game) than anyone else and Danish forward Junker was also the most efficient player in regard to production as he provided 1.40 goals/assist every game. Zinckernagel – along with Strømsgodset Toppfotball’s Lars-Jørgen Salvesen – had a league-high 86 shots as Kasper Junker was top of the pile for goals inside the area (25).
Perhaps the most surprising revelation is that Junker didn’t secure a move to a bigger club than Japanese outfit Urawa Reds, but at least Glimt received just shy of £2m for the enigmatic striker after losing Philip Zinckernagel to Watford FC on a free transfer at the start of January.
New signings Sondre Sørli (9.5mNOK – Kristiansund BK), Erik Botheim (10.0mNOK – Rosenborg BK) and Hugo Vetlesen (7.5mNOK – Stabæk Fotball, 10th October 2020) have since come in on permanent deals while Brazilian Pernambuco (8.5mNOK) joins on loan from PFK Lviv. Many people will be looking at Botheim to live up to his promise after failing to make much of an impression at both Rosenborg and Stabæk where he spent most of last season.
League runners-up Molde were the only team able to beat Glimt but they were unable to do much to stop the Superlaget from winning the Eliteserien for the first time in their history. They fared much better than their domestic rivals in Europe, as they reached the last 16 of a European competition for the first time largely thanks to brilliant performances by goalkeeper Andreas Linde (6.5mNOK) who has done himself no harm ahead of 2021 and will surely attract even more interest in Fantasy Football than he did last season.
Vålerenga Fotball snatched third place from under the noses of the disappointing Rosenborg BK to mark an end to a decade without European football and while it’s true their heavyweight trio of Aron Dønnum (10.0mNOK), Christian Dahle Borchgrevink (6.0mNOK) and Ivan Näsberg (5.5mNOK) were at times insatiable, for me their player of the season was goalkeeper Kristoffer Klaesson (5.5mNOK). Only Glimt (32) conceded fewer goals than Vålerenga (33) and even though David Mitov Nilsson and Jacob Storevik (5.0mNOK) both kept more clean-sheets (10) than Klaesson (8) and accumulated more Fantasy points, I still think Klaesson is better than both of them and find it hard to accept Vålerenga would have finished as high as they did if he were not in goal for them.
Statistical analysis is about looking at a vast array of data rather than singling out specific metrics without context. This couldn’t be truer than when looking at goalkeeper’s performances as a lot of the time you’ll see comparison charts focused mainly on clean sheets and saves rather than what those clean sheets and saves actual mean when placed into relevant context.
I’m starting off my season review by looking at the best goalkeepers of 20/21 and who we should be looking at for next season. After tens of hours of stat diving, I’ve pulled apart the performances of the top 8 goalkeepers in the league and compared them over 46 metrics. So, buckle in…
Goalkeeper Performance Overview
The Eight Goalkeepers:
1. Jacob Storevik (134pts)
2. David Mitov Nilsson (114pts)
3. Sosha Makani (112pts)
4. Kristoffer Klaesson (106pts)
5. Marcus Sandberg (105pts)
6. Andreas Linde (102pts)
7. Sondre Rossbach (99pts)
8. Viljar Myhra (88pts)
The tables below provide a breakdown of goalkeeper performances in the 2020 season, highlighting which players excelled in certain metrics. These metrics have been grouped together to form different categories, hopefully making the spread of data a bit easier to digest.
After totalling up our goalkeepers’ scores over the 46 metrics they were marked against I compared this standing with how many Fantasy Points they each scored. The table clearly shows there is almost 100% correlation (6/8 – 75%) between points won and overall performance – this is great as it immediately shows the value in looking at these metrics because we can align real-life performance with Fantasy Points accrued, hopefully allowing us to identify potential Fantasy assets at any point in the season.
The only players to switch positions are Sosha Makani (5.0mNOK) (3rd to 4th) and Kristoffer Klaesson (4th to 3rd) who are separated by a mere 6FP and 0.28% metric score (MS). While Jacob Storevik finished 20pts ahead of his nearest rival, he beat the since departed David Mitov Nilsson by 2.89% MS. This shows how close our top 5 or 6 goalkeepers were regarding real-life performances (RLP) and to be honest that should not come as too much of a revelation.
Categories and Breakdowns
Category A – Fantasy Points Scoring
Storevik scored the most FP, most FP per million and was the best value for money goalkeeper in the league by quite some distance. In the end, it wasn’t even close, with Makani and Mitov Nilsson 12% and 12.67% behind respectively. The Sandefjord Fotball keeper was one of the surprises of the 2020 season along with the defensive resolution of the newly-promoted side but it would take a brave manager to back them to repeat such performances in the 2021 campaign.
Category B – Goals Conceded/Shots Saved
David Mitov Nilsson conceded fewer goals than anyone else as well as making more saves per shots on target faced. He was busier than Storevik throughout the season and at the same time managed to protect his goal more. In terms of shot-stopping he beat him quite comfortably.
Even though Mitov Nilsson won 4 of the 7 metrics, Kristoffer Klaesson was actually more consistent across the board and accumulated 0.09 MP more than the former Sarpsborg 08 number 1. Once again, context is king and the podium somewhat deceptive but let’s face it, there was hardly anything between the two here.
The fact that Klaesson only conceded 25.78% of all shots on target faced is truly remarkable. Mitov Nilsson was the only other goalkeeper to concede less than 30% of shots on target faced, but even his impressive score of 28.87% is still 3.09% behind Klaesson.
Category C – Clean Sheets
Mitov Nilsson and Storevik will get the plaudits for most clean sheets but Sosha Makani was worked harder than either (relative to clean sheets kept) and Andreas Linde was something of a talisman at the back for Molde, ensuring they won every single game they didn’t concede in.
Mitov Nilsson gets a special mention for helping Sarpsborg to 24 points (75% of their total league points) while keeping a clean sheet once every 2.6 games but Sosha Makani should be seen as Mjøndalen IF’s hero as without his consistency they surely would’ve been relegated.
Storevik finishes top of the pile in this category by a mere 0.08% MP showing just how close it is at the top between these players. In all honesty, the clean sheet potential (CSP) of our top five goalkeepers is more less the same with Klaesson probably just edging it at the time of writing due to Mitov Nilsson’s departure to IK Sirius Fotboll and uncertainty over Sandefjord’s ability to reproduce their form next season.
Category D – Saves
Once again Mitov Nilsson and Storevik excel but it’s Klaesson who finishes ahead of both with a final score of 7.98 out of 10 for this category despite winning just 2 out of the 10 save metrics. Mitov Nilsson saved more shots on target and conceded fewer goals inside and outside the area than Storevik or Klaesson as well as recording favourable shots to goals ratios of 2.07:1 (inside area) and 9.5:1 (outside area).
Storevik saved a remarkable 5 penalties (total 8 faced) netting him the extra FP and BFP needed to finish miles ahead of his peers in the Fantasy rankings. Despite making a whopping 72 saves inside the area, Viljar Myhra (4.5mNOK) was unable to make those stops count too much as he only managed 3 clean sheets all season and conceded an embarrassing amount of goals to boot.
Category E – Errors
Out of our 8 profiled goalkeepers only Sondre Rossbach (5.5mNOK) made no error which directly led to a goal, Jacob Storevik was fouled most (11 times) and Andreas Linde lost possession less than anyone else (228).
Andreas Linde wins this category slightly ahead of Storevik (0.10 MP difference) but 0.38 MP ahead of 3rd place Rossbach. The rest of our 8 finished below 2 MP with Klaesson performing well-under par with a final score of 1.53 (2 errors, fouled 6 times, lost possession 475 times).
Despite Rossbach posting a good score in this category, the defence in front of him was lacklustre at the best of times and so in pretty much every other category he fails to impress. Even the most stubborn of Odds BK fans will find it hard to imagine a much better season this year as the club have yet to strengthen their frail squad and could be miles behind before the next campaign even starts.
Category F – Command of Area
Fans of Norwegian football won’t be too surprised to see Marcus Sandberg (5.5mNOK) dominating in this speciality. The 30 year-old from Ronnang typifies Stabæk in every sense of the word – hard to beat, resilient and reliable. He’s one of the best all-round goalkeepers in the league and is absolute streets ahead of everyone else when it comes to commanding his box. Mitov Nilsson (26) is the only other goalkeeper who made more than 20 punches and Storevik (13) came closest to the Swede’s 18 aerial duels won.
Storevik (21) and Klaesson (17) are the only players who made less than 30 high claims and Sandberg’s 5 successful run outs was bettered only by Mitov Nilsson (6), Storevik (6) and Myrha (8).
One explanation for Storevik and Klaesson’s low number of high claims is their defences were able to cut out the majority of balls into the area before needing to rely on their goalkeepers. Again, context is a great way to understand these statistics but don’t be too surprised if you see me refer to the Stabæk keeper as Marcus ‘The Stalwart’ Sandberg now and again next season.
Category G – Passing/Creativity
If any of you are going to bring in a goalkeeper based purely on their creative/attacking potential then I’m sorry but you’re bonkers. That being said, it’s still interesting to see which of our number ones is moving the ball around more than his rivals as well as understanding what those passes mean when looked at in the right light.
All of our 8 goalkeepers played at least 1 key pass but only Storevik (2) and Klaesson (3) made more. Myhra (1139) attempted 177 more passes than closest rival Storevik but successfully completed 37 fewer than the Sandefjord keeper who also had the best passing accuracy (70.89%).
We can take this to mean a few things:
1. Strømsgodset find it hard to get out of their own half and involve Myhra in their passing game more than they should
2. Myhra only completed 56.63% of his passes – loses the ball too easily/doesn’t distribute well enough
3. Storevik is an accomplished passer and good on the ball – able to link up with defence/midfield well with little reason to believe he’s a liability in possession
4. Storevik and his defenders keep the ball well between themselves but ultimately it doesn’t amount to much and is indicative of negative play. Is this approach a viable long-term strategy? Will he/they be found out in the upcoming season?
Category H – League Points
Linde wins both metrics as he averaged a very respectable 2.07 league points when played as well as being on the pitch for 56 of Molde’s 62 points won. Klaesson finishes slightly behind in both metrics (1.8 & 51.13) but nobody else really comes close in this category which is unsurprising given the league finishes of both their clubs.
Admittedly this category isn’t too helpful, but it does direct us toward the more reliable defences/more successful teams which are more likely to be winning more games. This is obviously a double-edged realisation as while both Klaesson and Linde’s clean sheet potential is arguably higher than anyone else’s, they will be seen as premium goalkeepers and thus cost more which will understandably make them less appealing as Fantasy assets to a lot of managers.
Category I – Head-to-Head Performance
The final category takes a look at the head-to-head performances of all 8 goalkeepers in which all players featured in at least one fixture against the same opposition. Obviously, this makes a fixture such as Vålerenga vs. Molde moot as Klaesson and Linde can’t play against themselves (all goalkeepers must feature against the same side).
That being said there were still 11 fixtures in which all our goalkeepers played in:
• Aalesunds FK (Home & Away)
• FK Bodø/Glimt (Home & Away)
• SK Brann (Home & Away)
• IK Start (Away)
• Kristiansund BK (Home)
• Viking FK (Home & Away)
• Rosenborg BK (Home)
Klaesson and Makani are tied for fewest goals conceded (16) with Andreas Linde (17) and Mitov Nilsson/Storevik close behind (18). Myhra faced more shots on target (73) and produced more saves (50) than anyone else and only Makani (72.22%) could beat his save rate (68.49%). Rossbach won 24pts out of a possible 33, with Linde (22) and Klaesson (18) the only other players to score more than 13 points.
Myhra redeems himself somewhat in this category but he still conceded the most goals and only Mitov Nilsson (8) accrued fewer points (12). Klaesson and Makani are the standout players in the head-to-head matches which bodes quite well for the Vålerenga keeper ahead of a 2021 campaign where expectations will be sky high in the capital.
There are few points I’d like to make at this juncture:
1. There are specialists:
• Myhra – Shot-stopper
• Sandberg – Dominant, good in the air
• Storevik – Saves penalties
• Mitov Nilsson – Loves a clean sheet
2. And there are generalists:
• Linde/Klaesson – Good at all of the above
• Makani – Dynamic and instinctive
• Rossbach – Composed and can adapt to situations made worse by a poor defence
Linde and Klaesson are the best goalkeepers in the league because they are good shot-stoppers, they save penalties and often go long periods of the game without touching the ball yet still keep clean sheets.
The reason Storevik will never cost as much as Linde or Klaesson in Fantasy Football is because he plays for Sandefjord and isn’t as good. This might come across condescending/counterintuitive based on last season, but it’s true. Sandefjord kept 10 clean sheets which was incredible but we see this kind of thing time and time again where a team gets promoted and stuns everyone in the league with resolute defensive performances in which they are seen as categorically ‘hard to beat.’ And the next season? Look at Sheffield United in the Premier League. I fear Sandefjord will suffer a similar fate in 2021.
Makani is a good goalkeeper but he also plays for a team which don’t like scoring goals and were very close to playing in the OBOS-ligaen this season. He’s a good option to jump to if the fixtures dictate, but I’d probably rather have Álex Craninx all season for 0.5mNOK less.
The tables above show why I despise focusing on who is the best in a certain metric above all else. Klaesson only won FOUR out of 46 metrics yet finished in the top 3 for 26 of them. Are we really saying that a player who – relatively speaking – is a whisker behind his rival(s) is that much worse? I can’t agree. Mitov Nilsson and Storevik had fantastic seasons but the truth is, Klaesson offered more across the board than either of them while often being involved in his games a lot, lot less.
For the categories themselves, Klaesson finishes joint top with Storevik on 3 won as well as sharing top spot again with both Storevik and Mitov Nilsson (5) for top three finishes.
While nobody will be surprised with how well Mitov Nilsson and Storevik have been shown to have done through this research, perhaps a few of you will be a bit shocked as to how good a season Klaesson actually had. He will be right up there with the best of them again this season and I expect huge development in his game with the added exposure to European football in 2021.
There are – in my opinion – nine metrics, which when displayed as three graphs, provide invaluable insight into what these clean sheets, saves, Fantasy Points and overall utility actually mean.
Saves & Goals Conceded from Shots Inside the Area
As the graph shows, Mitov Nilsson was the only goalkeeper to make twice the amount of saves to goals conceded from shots inside the area (2.07). Klaesson (1.9) and Linde (1.81) were not too far behind however, and the top two in particular have almost identical stats for all three metrics.
Myhra unsurprisingly conceded the most amount of goals inside the area, but he also recorded far more saves from shots inside the box. This is why I have included the ratio as it shows even though he made so many saves, his ratio of saves:goals was not as good as at least five other goalkeepers around him. Sandberg and Rossbach are perhaps surprisingly worse off than the Strømsgodset keeper which – pre-season depending – might suggest both the Stabæk and Odds BK players are potentially Fantasy assets to avoid.
Shots on Target Saved (%) and Goals Conceded
When looking at how many shots on target occur before a goalkeeper makes a save, we would want as little deviation from 1 as possible.
This graph ranks out goalkeepers in ascending order of shots on target to saves made per game, as well as looking at how many goals they conceded during the same period of time. What is interesting is when we look at the percentage of on-target shots saved, a metric which Klaesson (74.22%) scores very well in. That means on average, the Vålerenga number 1 was saving almost ¾ of all shots on target over the course of the entire season. He beats Jacob Storevik (65.87%) and Sandberg (66.91%) by quite some way. Mitov Nilsson (71.13%) and Makani (69.29%) weren’t a million miles behind, but to be honest, to get anywhere near 75% in this metric is truly remarkable.
His goals conceded and ratio are not too dissimilar to Mitov Nilsson’s and there’s daylight between himself and Linde. For me, this is another suggestion that we are looking at the best goalkeeper still in the division and we can expect him to not only reproduce his form from 2020 but do even better.
Clean Sheets & Saves (per Clean Sheet)
Fantasy Points is never a bad place to start judging our Fantasy assets and it’s clear that Storevik and Mitov Nilsson were everybody’s favourite keepers for large parts of last season. They top the Fantasy Points per 90 minutes metric as well as keeping a league-high of 10 clean sheets but when compared to Makani, Linde and Klaesson, it becomes clear that Storevik and Mitov Nilsson in particular, have been somewhat flattered by the defences in front of them.
Storevik might have kept 2 clean sheets more than Klaesson, but they posted very similar (3.1 – 3.13) saves per clean sheets, suggesting that Klaesson has been let down by some shoddy defending. After all, Storevik faced 126 shots on target, saving 80 of them while Klaesson produced 93 saves from 128 on-target shots. While Klaesson and Storevik were both tested the same amount, it’s actually Klaesson who individually protected his goal more than Storevik.
Clean sheets are a telling way to judge our goalkeepers, but they do not tell us the entire story and it’s not a metric I put too much stock in over others. All the metrics I’ve focused on are helpful, especially when looked at as a whole rather than cherry-picking certain ones to further any kind of bias.
Fantasy 2021 Goalkeeper Picks
Now that the game has finally been released, we can look into prices and who stands out as a good potential asset for the upcoming season
• Andreas Linde (MOL, 6.5mNOK)
• Sondre Rossbach (ODD, 5.5mNOK)
• Marcus Sandberg (STB, 5.5mNOK)
• Kristoffer Klaesson (VIF, 5.5mNOK)
• Sosha Makani (MJO, 5.0mNOK)
• Jacob Storevik (SAN, 5.0mNOK)
• Viljar Myhra (SIF, 4.5mNOK)
From our 8, 7 remain as Mitov Nilsson has border-hopped into Sweden where he will become an Allsvenskan asset this year. Linde is a full million more expensive than any of our profiled players while Storevik has seen his price increase to reflect his form.
As good as Linde is, I would not be able to justify spending that much money on a goalkeeper. His clean sheet potential may be high, but I’m not convinced he offers enough to spend 6.5% of my budget on him. At 5m, Storevik looks cheap enough to consider but as stated before, I think Sandefjord will struggle this season and despite the signing of Amer Ordagić (5.mNOK), they have let creative players like Rufo and Dyver Vega leave the club, as well as defensive midfielder Emil Pálsson (4.5mNOK) who joined Sarpsborg 08 FF in January and left back Anton Kralj who moved to Degerfors IF earlier this year. Without more investment in the squad, I fear Storevik will have a hard season ahead of him and think there are better keepers in and around his price range.
• Kristoffer Klaesson (VIF, 5.5mNOK)
• Álex Craninx (LSK, 4.5mNOK)
I think this will be quite a common pairing from the start of the season. Lillestrøm SK have invested wisely (more on that in another article) and they offer good Fantasy potential in every position. Craninx is a competent goalkeeper and for 4.5m is an absolute steal as long as Lillestrøm can play as well as we know they can.
At 5.5m I think Klaesson is a straight up bargain and see no reason not to have him as my primary goalkeeper. The only other goalkeeper in the same price bracket I’d be tempted by would be Marcus Sandberg, but with the departures of Emil Bohinen and Gustav Valsvik (RBK, 5.5mNOK), he will surely have a much harder season this time round.
• Helge Sandvik (FKH, 5.0mNOK)
• Sosha Makani (MJO, 5.0mNOK)
• Jacob Karlstrøm (TIL, 4.5mNOK)
FK Haugesund will look to improve on what was a very inconsistent season last term and having a competent goalkeeper as Helge Sandvik be a Fantasy option for just 5.0m frees up half a million from going with Klaesson which could be put to use elsewhere. Sandvik was not a goalkeeper I profiled but that doesn’t mean I’m ignorant of his quality. There is definitely potential in having him ahead of Klaesson but I will bide my time with that decision, as while I have been impressed with Vålerenga’s form and their dealings in the transfer market, Haugesund very much remain an ‘unknown quantity’ with how they could start the upcoming season.
Makani has been and will always be a good option and for half a million less than Klaesson he does free up funds to invest elsewhere in our squads. Tromsø IL keeper Jacob Karlstrøm is also a perfectly viable backup option as he will no doubt face a similar amount of shots as similarly priced players and is good enough to deal with it. Going with a newly promoted goalkeeper is an attractive play as you do not take up a defensive slot from a better team, meaning you are able to dip into attacking options from better teams.
The new season begins 9th May and the game is now up and active. I’ll be writing more articles between now and then, going into which defenders, midfielders and attackers we should consider as well as hopefully unearthing some hidden gems along the way.
I’ll also be looking into each club’s dealings in the transfer market and what that could mean for every club from title-holders Bodø/Glimt, to relegation favourites Mjøndalen.
As ever, feel free to give some input on who you think is the best keeper for 2021 and stay tuned for the next article!