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ANALYSIS: How does Trevor Carson compare to Dundee United No.1 Benjamin Siegrist?

Carson, left, and Siegrist
Carson, left, and Siegrist

Trevor Carson knows the onerous task which awaits him at Tannadice.

“Benji [Siegrist] was one of the top goalkeepers in the league last season so I know it’s going to be a challenge for me,” he said of the upcoming battle for the gloves after penning a two-year deal with Dundee United.

“But if you’re not up for a challenge then you’re in the wrong sport.”

New man: Carson

That may be a moot declaration if one of Siegrist’s suitors coughs up the required transfer fee for the Swiss stopper this summer.

For the moment, however, United have two fine goalkeepers vying for the number one position — and Courier Sport has crunched the numbers from last season’s Premiership to see how they compare.

Shot-stopper supreme

As an immediate caveat, it should be pointed out that Carson only played 12 league games for Motherwell compared to Siegrist’s 32 for United. As such, a quick glance at the statistics can be somewhat misleading.

Siegrist made 102 more saves (129 to 27) than Carson over the course of the league campaign, however the sheer difference in the amount of matches played by the pair accounts for much of that discrepancy.

Nevertheless, you can break that down to the average number of saves per game for a fairer assessment and Siegrist still emerges on top. That should come as little surprise, given he made more saves than any other Premiership keeper in 2020/21.

The most saves Carson made in any single match was four, while Siegrist registered an astonishing 12 stops in the 0-0 draw against Celtic on March 7. He also made nine saves on another two occasions and eight saves in another match. There are few better shot-stoppers in Scotland at the moment.

Turning saves into points

Siegrist also helped his side to a more handsome win percentage in matches he started — 31.25% compared to 25%.

Carson did register clean sheets in a respectable 33.3% of his appearances for Motherwell last term — admirable give all of those outings were in the first half of the season as the Steelmen endured inconsistent form.

Again, however, Siegrist has the edge with 37.5% as United narrowly missed out on a top-six finish under Micky Mellon.

Playing style

While a goalkeeper’s primary job is to keep the ball out of the net, the last line of defence is increasingly the first line of attack in the modern game.

Especially under Tam Courts — who will look to implement a more possession-based, attacking outlook — an ability to play out from the back will be beneficial.

In that regard, Carson looks a fine capture. On average, the Northern Ireland internationalist attempted more than 32 passes per match compared to less than 29 by Siegrist.

Of those attempted passes, Carson’s distribution found its target on average 60% of the time. Siegrist, by sharp contract, failed to find a teammate 60% of the time.

That can partly be attributed to United’s style of play last term — if Siegrist is discouraged from playing out from the back, while Carson is told to do so, then those are the numbers one would expect.

However, it is a heartening indication that Carson will be comfortable with the ball at his feet.

The intangibles

Not everything can be boiled down to numbers and, while Siegrist is undeniably a magnificent goalkeeper with a fine future, Carson possesses the experience of more than 300 senior games, north and south of the border, and five senior caps.

Ready for action: Carson

He also had the guts and drive to recover from deep vein thrombosis in his shoulder and lung — a life-threatening condition for someone in a contact sport — and was a popular member of the Fir Park dressing room; a real leader.

So, regardless of who lines up between the sticks this season, United fans can be confident that they are in safe hands.