David de Gea’s form a major concern for Man United

by Red Billy

Opta statistics say that David de Gea’s high profile blunder against Everton yesterday was the seventh time since the start of last season he has cost Manchester United a goal.

Shocking as it is, Opta’s ‘errors leading to goals’ statistic is perhaps somewhat kind to de Gea. It obviously does not include errors that go unpunished, and there have also been a number of fumbled crosses that the 29-year-old has made in this poor run of form, some of which have also led indirectly to goals.

The Spaniard was undoubtedly one of the world’s best goalkeepers for a number of years, but what appeared to be a spell of bad form in 2018 has continued into its third year.

Last season alone, de Gea actually made seven howlers that led directly to goals – two for Spain and five for the Reds.

It all seemed to start with the 2018 World Cup, which was a disaster for the Spaniard. He finished the competition with the worst goalkeeping figures of any World Cup since 1966, he was dropped from the national side and he was pilloried in his home country by fans who believed he was responsible for Spain’s exit from the competition.

On his return to the domestic scene, de Gea initially seemed to have shrugged off his international nightmare. But then the mistakes started to creep in. First was a bungle against Arsenal’s Mustafi in December 2018. There was then a run of gaffes that ultimately cost Manchester United a place in this season’s Champions League, against Arsenal (Granit Xhaka), Manchester City (Leroy Sane) and Chelsea (Marcos Alonso). His pitiful attempt to save a Leonel Messi shot also saw United crashing out of the Champions League.

This season did not start any better for de Gea. In August he let a soft Patrick van Anholt shot beat him at the near post against Crystal Palace. In December, he flapped at a corner against Everton which led to an own goal by Victor Lindelof and a week later he allowed a tame effort from Watford’s Ismaila Sarr slip through his fingers into the net.

This latest blunder against Everton could be the most embarrassing of them all.

But the Spaniard’s demise is not just about mistakes, it is also about an inability to produce a little magic when required, as he used to do on a regular basis.

De Gea has not saved a single penalty since the 2015/16 season and his saves rate of 69% is well below that of the Red Devil’s on loan keeper Dean Henderson, who comes in at 75%. It is also lower than Liverpool’s Alisson (80%), Spurs’ Hugo Lloris (75%), Crystal Palace’s Vincente Guaita (74%) and Wayne Hennessy (73%), Leicester’s Kasper Schmeichel (72%), Newcastle’s Martin Dubravka (72%) and Arsenal’s Bernd Leno (70%).

Defending his player after yesterday’s match, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer said ‘David for me is the best goalkeeper in the world … He went through a difficult patch last season but David has been very, very good this season. I can’t really remember any errors apart from the Watford one. I trust him 100 per cent in the goal.’

The boss may want to have his memory checked.

Agreeing with Arsenal fan and all-round irritant Piers Morgan is not something that comes easily, but wasn’t he right when he responded to Solskjaer’s comment by saying ‘How many more horrendous cock-ups does De Gea need to make before he loses the ‘best goalkeeper in the world’ tag? He’s not even the best goalkeeper in Manchester’?

Manchester United owes David de Gea so much. He has saved so many points for the Red Devils over the years and United fans are among the most loyal in the world. But there comes a time when we have to talk about the elephant in the room, and after close to two years of errors and mediocrity and with crunch time approaching in three competitions, that time may be now.

United play Derby County in the 5th round of the FA Cup on Thursday. But how much do you know about the Red Devils’ history in the FA Cup? Take our quiz below to find out!

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