Adrian Clarke looks at players who impressed in 2018/19 and can continue to go from strength to strength in 2019/20.
Arsenal's goalkeeper was one of 2018/19’s most underrated players.
While he conceded 42 goals, at a rate one every 67 minutes, without his heroics Arsenal might have finished lower than fifth.
Producing a number of man-of-the-match displays, Leno’s first campaign in England was a big success.
And at the age of 27, with a season of adaptation behind him, he can impress even more in 2019/20.
Leno’s speed over five to 10 metres is a standout quality.
Narrowing the angle quickly, the German prevented several goals by rushing opponents effectively as they prepared to shoot inside the box.
Standing tall as he approaches them, while spreading his legs wide, Leno is one of the best at coming off his line to repel attackers.
No other top-six goalkeeper was as busy as Leno for close-range saves.
He made 2.13 stops per 90 minutes from shots inside the box, a tally exceeded only by goalkeepers at teams placed 10th and below.
His save percentage of 71.2 should therefore be highly respected.
|Goalkeeper||Saves in box/90||Goalkeeper||Save %|
Only one goalkeeper had a better record having faced more close-range efforts, Lukasz Fabianski.
Had he been better protected, Leno’s shot-to-save record would have been even better.
Leno is very athletic, leaping high or diving low quickly to push away shots with both hands.
The German stopper is exceptional at throwing himself to his left and pulled off a number of remarkable reaction saves.
One from Moussa Sissoko in the north London derby at Wembley Stadium was among the saves of the season.
🤔 Save of the season?— Arsenal FC (@Arsenal) March 5, 2019
😱 @Bernd_Leno pic.twitter.com/DEdEw0XWvF
Leno had an off night in the 3-0 defeat to Wolverhampton Wanderers but has otherwise been consistently excellent.
He is one of the few top-flight goalkeepers to have prevented more than two expected goals (xG) in 2018/19. Leno faced 45.4 expected goals on target (xGoT), but actually conceded 41.
|Goalkeeper||Goals conceded*||xGoT faced||xG prevented|
*excluding own goals
If Unai Emery strengthens Arsenal's defence this summer, there should be less reliance on Leno.
But with a good season under his belt and scope for further development in his game, his reputation can still soar.
Part 2: Players to star in 2019/20: Fabinho
Part 3: Players to star in 2019/20: Wilfried Zaha
Part 4: Players to star in 2019/20: Hamza Choudhury
Part 5: Players to star in 2019/20: Lucas Moura