BT Sport analyst Paul Scholes criticised David de Gea for failing to save Allan Saint-Maximin’s shot against Newcastle on Sunday night.
This may have been a little harsh considering the shot was struck with such power, after a poor clearance from Harry Maguire.
Where De Gea did fail was his decision not to take command of the situation when the cross was floated in. As usual the Spaniard stayed rooted to his line.
This has always been one of De Gea’s flaws, and it adds fuel to the debate over whether he should be the starter, or an increasingly confident Dean Henderson.
‘Come and claim it’
Aston Villa rank highest in the Premier League for their goalkeepers claiming high crosses, with 29 in total.
Manchester United rank 20th, with just three high crosses claimed, according to official figures from the Premier League.
This is an astoundingly low figure and highlights where De Gea’s deficiencies lie.
To add context, WhoScored.com note opposition teams attempt an average of 16 crosses per game against United in the Premier League this season.
De Gea has played in 22.5 out of United’s 25 league games with Henderson playing 2.5. (The half each came against Southampton when De Gea went off at half-time).
It’s not unusually low
Last season De Gea’s United ranked joint 20th, making 13 good high claims in 38 games, level with equal bottom West Ham.
Interestingly, Sheffield United with Dean Henderson in goal, ranked 13th, with 21 high claims.
Being able to come out and claim a cross shows a strong command of a goalkeeper’s penalty area, confidence in their own handling and physicality, and also eases pressure on the centre-backs.
United ranked 19th in 2018/19, 18th in 2017/18 with 20, 16th in 2016/17 and 20th in 2015/16.
Clearly this season De Gea ranking so low is not an aberration. It’s the norm.
United have two choices. Either continue to accept this and carry on piling pressure on the team’s defence, or try a new approach with Dean Henderson, either this season or next.
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