David de Gea is back to his best while rivals falter

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer had high praise for David de Gea after Manchester United’s 2-1 victory at the Etihad Stadium on Saturday.

He was quoted by Goal: “David de Gea is the best goalkeeper in the world. We’ve expected high standards off him and he is getting back to his best.”

The Spaniard struggled towards the end of last season, but on the evidence of Saturday and the win over Tottenham days before, Solskjaer is right to lavish such high praise on his stopper.

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De Gea’s confidence is back

De Gea’s game is all about remaining on his line and giving himself as much time to react to shots as possible.

That’s what helps him make saves that are impossible for nearly every other goalkeeper, but it relies on confidence.

Towards the end of last season, shots started to squirm under de Gea. That impacts his belief in his ability to protect his goalline and instead of bailing United out, means they concede goals that should be kept out.

But against Spurs and City, de Gea was back to his best, comfortable behind a reasonably defence protecting a lead and capable of batting away almost everything thrown at him en route to two crucial victories.

He offers such confidence to his backline and the back four responded with individual displays which could all be described as their best of the season for Aaron Wan-Bissaka, Harry Maguire, Victor Lindelof and Luke Shaw.

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Rivals are faltering

There was plenty of talk near the end of last season about Alisson and Ederson usurping De Gea – largely due to their ability with their feet – and Chelsea’s Kepa has taken his Spain spot.

De Gea has shown his class recently, and has been the best goalkeeper in the division since 2014.

Meanwhile, Alisson recently picked up a needless red card, rushing out of his box against Brighton and his compatriot Ederson should have saved Anthony Martial’s strike on Saturday.

Kepa was beaten by a soft Dominic Calvert-Lewin strike at Goodison Park earlier in the day.

There may be some new pretenders to the throne but de Gea remains the Premier League’s top stopper and few could dispute Solskjaer’s claim about him being the best in Europe on the form he showed last week.

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Sam Preston is an NCTJ gold standard news and sports journalist who studied with the Press Association. He also has a 2:1 law with French law degree from the University of Birmingham, which included a year studying at Bordeaux Montaigne University. He is an FA Level 1 football coach who appeared on the BBC’s Victoria Derbyshire show in 2018 and has also written digital football content and match-day programme pieces for Colchester United, Mansfield Town and Stockport County.