Talking Tactics

Sheffield United in safe hands with Henderson

By Adrian Clarke 25 Jan 2020
Sheffield United v Aston Villa - Premier League

Adrian Clarke says the Blades goalkeeper and candidate for TAG Heuer Young Player of the Season can continue his incredible rise

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Ahead of the TAG Heuer Young Player of the Season award being decided in May, Adrian Clarke looks at eligible players, aged 23 or under at the start of 2019/20, who have shone this campaign.

Dean Henderson (Sheffield United)

During the past four seasons, the 22-year-old goalkeeper has excelled on loan at every level of English football's professional game.

After representing Grimsby Town, Shrewsbury Town and now Sheffield United, the Manchester United loanee has continued his rapid improvement this term.

Indeed, Henderson should now be considered among the best Premier League goalkeepers.

Producing consistent heroics for the Blades, his form has been outstanding.

Shot-stopper supreme

Henderson may be protected by one of the most-organised defences in the division, but he has still had to make a series of important saves.

A natural shot-stopper, his agility and quick reflexes have frustrated a raft of opponents.

He is equally adept at diving low as he is at acrobatically tipping efforts over, as he showed with his recent one-handed save to deny West Ham United's Manuel Lanzini.

Watch Henderson's save v West Ham


Henderson's other speciality is in 1v1 situations, as Liverpool's Mohamed Salah found out at Bramall Lane this season.

Salah bore down on goal but was thwarted by the 'keeper, who stood upright, as he tends to do in those scenarios.

Determined not to commit himself, he has made several terrific blocks with his legs and body when opponents have been through on goal.

Statistically, his save ratio is among the very best.

Only two goalkeepers boast a better rate in the Premier League this season, and Henderson has made almost twice as many saves as them.

How PL goalkeepers compare 2019/20
Goalkeeper* Saves Save % 
Alisson 32 84.2
Hugo Lloris 31 77.5
Dean Henderson 61 74.7
Lukasz Fabianski 28 73.7
Vicente Guaita 67 73.3

*minimum of 20 saves

In 23 Premier League appearances, Henderson has conceded just 20 goals, with a paltry eight of those coming at home.

Chris Wilder's side defend outstandingly well as a unit but, even so, the Blades have relied on their goalkeeper to bail them out on occasion. 

According to Opta’s Expected Goals (xG) data, Sheff Utd have conceded six fewer goals than they would have without Henderson's heroics.

Only one other goalkeeper boasts a better record for expected goals on target (xGOT), a metric analysing the quality of the chance and the finish.

 King of the 'keepers 2019/20
Goalkeeper Goals conceded xGOT faced xGOT prevented
Vicente Guaita 23 29.6 6.6
Dean Henderson 20 26.0 6.0
Ben Foster 34 39.9 5.9
Martin Dubravka 35 40.9 5.9
Hugo Lloris 9 12.8 3.8
Kasper Schmeichel 24 27.7 3.7

*excluding own goals

Henderson is not as dominant as some when dealing with crosses, nor is he a modern "sweeper 'keeper".

His talent is in making saves. Beaten by just one shot from outside the box, he provides a formidable barrier every team crave. 

Also in this series

Part 2: Grealish relishing responsibility as Villa's talisman
Part 3: Explosive Traore a force to be recokoned with

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