In Focus: Dominant De Gea driving standards at Old Trafford

Luke Bissett
LiveScore
David de Gea's performances have been a rare bright spot for Manchester United this term
David de Gea's performances have been a rare bright spot for Manchester United this term

Manchester United’s top-four hopes looked dead in the water — but David de Gea’s sublime form is keeping them in contention to reach the Champions League.

Saturday’s dramatic 3-2 win over Norwich moved the Red Devils to within three points of fourth-placed Tottenham, with two superb saves from their Spanish stopper helping secure victory.

As United prepare for a tough test against Liverpool at Anfield this evening, we take a look at their goalkeeper’s remarkable impact.

Theatre of expectation

It will be viewed as a tremendous success if United are able to claw back fourth spot, considering the sorry state that they found themselves in just a few months ago.

And De Gea has pulled no punches in his assessment of the Red Devils’ recent performances.

Speaking after the Norwich victory, he said: "Until the last second, it was very stressful, we were 2-0 up against Norwich so we cannot lose control of the game.

"We started giving chances away, they scored at the end of the first half, it's always tough, but I think we have to control the game more. Especially at home against Norwich.

"A massive three points, we are still there fighting for the top four but for sure we need to keep improving because I think it's not enough if we keep playing like this."

Top of the class

In the tumultuous years since Sir Alex Ferguson’s retirement, De Gea has consistently performed to a high standard — maintaining his status as one of the best goalkeepers in the Premier League.

He has won the club’s Sir Matt Busby Player of the Year award four times since 2014 and will be in contention to claim the prize once more after his standout performances this term.

De Gea has made the second-most saves in the Premier League across the campaign so far (111), behind only Leeds custodian Illan Meslier (118).

The 31-year-old also became the first goalkeeper to win the Premier League Player of the Month award since 2016 earlier this year after producing 22 saves and keeping a clean sheet against West Ham in January.

David de Gea is one of the best shot stoppers in England's top flight
David de Gea is one of the best shot stoppers in England's top flight

Captaincy claim

There have been calls from the Old Trafford faithful for De Gea to inherit the club captaincy from Harry Maguire.

The centre-back has endured a torrid season at the heart of the Red Devils’ rearguard, with many believing that a change of leadership will allow him to fully focus on his defensive responsibilities.

De Gea is one of the favourites to take over. The former Atletico Madrid star is the second-longest serving player at Old Trafford and commands huge respect within the dressing room.

He also recently overtook former club captain Roy Keane in the appearances chart — playing his 481st game for the club against Norwich.

Next season could be a record-breaking year for the 6ft 4in colossus, as he is on course to climb into the club’s top 10 all-time appearance holders.

That impressive feat would be made even more special should he also boast the armband.

Manchester United have kept seven league clean sheets with David de Gea between the sticks this season
Manchester United have kept seven league clean sheets with David de Gea between the sticks this season

Spain spot

A huge incentive for De Gea to maintain his impressive displays will be the upcoming World Cup in Qatar this winter.

The goalkeeper was ousted as his nation’s first choice by Kepa Arrizabalaga in 2019, before Unai Simon took over from the Chelsea man.

Yet despite failing to make an appearance for La Roja since October 2020, De Gea’s omission from the Spain squad for last month’s internationals still came as an enormous surprise.

The pool of national team goalkeepers were reportedly judged on seven key metrics (including saves, catches, punches, passes and challenges won), with De Gea boasting a measly score of 54% — while his replacement in the squad David Raya achieved a stunning 85%.

Spain goalkeeper David de Gea's passing has been under scrutiny at international level
Spain goalkeeper David de Gea's passing has been under scrutiny at international level

New surroundings

If the Manchester United No1 is to regain his spot in Luis Enrique’s squad, a move away from Old Trafford may be required.

De Gea’s contract is due to expire in 2023, with the club holding an option to extend it by a further 12 months.

Yet with academy graduate Dean Henderson chomping at the bit to take over the mantle as first choice, this summer may be the Red Devils’ last chance of commanding a sizeable fee for the Madrid native.

A fifth Player of the Year award would certainly be a fitting final tribute to a man who has made a remarkable impact during a tricky period in the club's history.

Tags

Premier LeagueManchester UnitedLiverpoolDavid De Gea
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