Tottenham coach Mauricio Pochettino’s decision to select back-up goalkeeper Michel Vorm ahead of Hugo Lloris for the club’s FA Cup semi-final defeat to Manchester United invited criticism, particularly when the Dutchman was partially culpable for the opening goal. But Lloris’s errors have also seen him under scrutiny this season.
The Spurs captain was questioned at the start of April when he misjudged a cross to allow Alvaro Morata to head home the opening goal for Chelsea at Stamford Bridge. Lloris was then a little unfortunate in the very next game against Stoke when an attempted clearance ricocheted off opposition striker Mame Biram Diouf to gift him an equaliser. Regarded by his admirers as rare mistakes, Lloris nevertheless had also made what Opta defines as errors leading to goals in the reverse fixtures against both Chelsea and Stoke. Indeed, the statistics show that Lloris has made more errors leading to goals over the past three seasons than any other player in the Premier League.
Lloris has made 10 such mistakes since the summer of 2015 with five of them coming in the current campaign. Half of those 10 errors have come in matches against Chelsea, Manchester City and north London rivals Arsenal, creating a feeling that Lloris is even more likely to make a mistake when the stakes are at their highest. What is even more worrying for the Frenchman is that he cannot point to his errors being harshly punished. Lloris has also made a total of 20 errors leading to shots in this three-year period – that is seven more than any other Premier League player. Despite his reputation, there is significant evidence to suggest he is the most error-prone player in the country.
However, the fact that Lloris plays such passes so often – he has attempted over 700 more of these passes than anyone else over the past three seasons – also means he misplaces more of them than any other goalkeeper too. His total of 244 failed passes inside his own half is yet another Premier League high for Lloris.
Pochettino, like Pep Guardiola, regards this as a price worth paying in order to play the style of football that he demands. Perhaps that is the crux of it with Lloris. The number of errors is alarming and some cannot be excused. But others are a natural consequence of his style. Paradoxically, it could be that Lloris is both prone to error and a top-class goalkeeper