Sheffield Wednesday present Bailey Peacock-Farrell with an opportunity to get back to playing regular club football in 2021/22.
Peacock-Farrell has signed for the Owls on a season-long loan from Burnley with the promise of first-team football. Cameron Dawson’s move to Exeter City will swiftly follow, leaving Joe Wildsmith to serve as the Northern Ireland international’s back-up.
Over the course of his career, Peacock-Farrell has searched for these kind of chances.
Marcelo Bielsa signing Kiko Casilla at Leeds United in 2019 pushed his nose out of joint at Elland Road and led the goalkeeper to Burnley. At Turf Moor he’s been learning from the best in goalkeeping coach, Billy Mercer, but Premier League opportunities are limited because of Nick Pope.
So, a move to Hillsborough has been sourced this summer, with Peacock-Farrell offered the chance to begin the upcoming season as Darren Moore’s first choice goalkeeper.
That’s too good for the 24-year-old to turn down. Only once in his career has he started his senior career as a club’s first choice goalkeeper, when Leeds embarked on life under Bielsa at the start of 2018/19.
Our graphic above details Peacock-Farrell’s performance that season for Leeds. He made 28 starts in the Championship, kicking off the season as Bielsa’s first choice and getting the Whites into the race for automatic promotion. However, Casilla’s arrival from Real Madrid in January sparked the beginning for the end for the goalkeeper at Elland Road.
Nevertheless, Peacock-Farrell performed well in those 28 appearances and that offers encouragement for Wednesday fans wondering what he can bring to the table in League One.
He conceded 32 goals in those 28 appearances, making 62 saves from the shots Leeds faced. That aligned with his expected conceded goals (xCG), although Peacock-Farrell was beaten by a mixed bag of shots. Che Adams’ strikes in Birmingham’s 2-1 win at Elland Road were saveable, whilst Sheffield Wednesday fans will remember Adam Reach’s unstoppable strike that flew past him in a 1-1 draw at Hillsborough. He also saved a Marc McNulty penalty in a crucial 1-0 win over Reading, which shouldn’t be overlooked.
Other areas of Peacock-Farrell’s game offered good variety, not least his use of possession.
Leeds’ possession-based football meant he attempted 482 short passes, with an average of 15.99 per 90 minutes and success rate of over 97%. That matched up against just 176 attempted long passes (5.84 per 90), which naturally saw a decrease in accuracy.
What’s worth considering is that Leeds’ preference under Bielsa wasn’t to play long towards Kemar Roofe, so that 54.5% accuracy is unsurprising. Peacock-Farrell, though, has since proved he has the ability to find his target at Burnley. Wyscout tell us that in 42 attempted long passes in the Premier League last season, the Northern Ireland goalkeeper’s success rate was 81%.
Simply, Peacock-Farrell will adapt to however Moore wants Wednesday to play and his passing accuracy will remain high if the right personnel plays outfield.
One area Peacock-Farrell will be looking to improve is the way he commands his penalty area. He averaged 1.79 exits per 90 for Leeds in 18/19, which is a figure that may need to evolve as he steps down into a typically more physical division in League One. He will have to be braver and more vocal.
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Peacock-Farrell’s lack of opportunities as a first-team goalkeeper at club level after Casilla arrived at Leeds means these are the best stats to judge him on. He was by no means perfect, but as first auditions go, it was solid and Leeds never really got any better that season when he was replaced.
Wednesday, then, can be encouraged that their new arrival has what it takes to elevate their goalkeeping department.
Neither Wildsmith nor Dawson have ever truly convinced. That’s why both have had sporadic spells in the side over the course of the last couple of seasons before Moore arrived. It’s also why Wednesday have moved for Peacock-Farrell.
An opportunity looms for Peacock-Farrell to grasp the game time he craves. Finding his Leeds levels of 2018/19 will be the initial aim and bettering those numbers will make this loan worth while for everyone.