Only Norwich and Aston Villa have conceded more goals from set pieces than Manchester United in the Premier League this season.
Victor Lindelof’s own goal against Everton was the sixth in 17 games resulting from a corner or free kick that David de Gea has had to fish out of the back of his net.
Although most pundits agree that United were unlucky not to have been awarded a free kick after De Gea seemed to have been fouled by Dominic Calvert-Lewin in the build-up to the goal, The Athletic’s Laurie Whitwell claims that De Gea should not have been in such a vulnerable position in the first place.
Whitwell believes that ‘De Gea lacked the aggression that goalkeepers are entitled to carry in such situations. He would have been able to clatter into Calvert-Lewin without danger of conceding a penalty, so he really ought to have used that advantage’ and that ‘De Gea turned away from the contact with Calvert-Lewin before it arrived, making it questionable whether the Everton player’s arm actually affected the United goalkeeper missing the ball’.
He also thinks that ‘De Gea would have been better served going for the punch with his left hand, rather than his right. An arm rotating towards the ball is more forceful than an arm shooting straight up, while having a limb in the way would have offered further protection from Calvert-Lewin.’
The Athletic reporter also believes De Gea is not being protected adequately by his defenders. ‘[W]hen there are 10 in red shirts and five in blue in the box, it is disastrous for the goalkeeper to be unprotected against two 6ft-plus opponents so close to goal.’
Squwaka have also noted that De Gea has made four errors leading to goals so far this year.
Only Martin Dubravka (5) has made more errors leading to goals in the Premier League in 2019 than David de Gea (4).
Was he impeded? ? pic.twitter.com/lZKQTqPHub
— Squawka Football (@Squawka) December 15, 2019
There remain legitimate concerns about the Spanish keeper’s form since his falling out with goalkeeping coach Emilio Alvarez last season, which resulted in the latter being replaced by Richard Hartis. Whilst the blunders that cost the Red Devils so many points toward the end of 2018/19 are fewer and farther between, there is still a fragility to De Gea that does not inspire the confidence of either his teammates or the fans.