A steady run of cup competitions has enabled Manchester United to balance goalkeeping duties between David de Gea and Dean Henderson.
Henderson has played 2.5 league games this season plus a further seven appearances in the cups. He has five clean sheets from 10 total games.
This week Henderson is due another opportunity when United host West Ham in the FA Cup. It is a chance he has to seize.
David de Gea’s blunders against Everton have re-opened the debate over whether United should give Henderson a chance.
Whether that is fair on De Gea or not, after a solid run of games beforehand, it’s still a topic United fans are talking about, and the Spaniard knows full well that with Henderson waiting in line, he can’t afford to make errors.
Henderson hasn’t been perfect either. He cost a goal away at Sheffield United back in December. A similar slip up this week would put him back at square one.
More opportunities ahead
Even if United were beaten by West Ham and exit the FA Cup, Henderson’s cup campaigns are not over. He has the Europa League to look forward to, which resumes later this month when United visit Real Sociedad on February 18th for the first leg.
De Gea’s error opens the door back up for Henderson in the Premier League.
Solskjaer has been loyal to De Gea so far and refused to entertain the idea of actually dropping him. When Henderson has played, it has purely been to rest De Gea.
It might make sense for Solskjaer to now give Henderson a run for the next three games.
Consistency can help
Giving Henderson the knowledge he is in for the next three games will help decrease the pressure on him against West Ham and make it feel less like an audition.
The fixtures are the two cup games vs West Ham and Real Sociedad he was due to start anyway, and then in between, a Premier League match away at Sam Allardyce’s West Bromwich Albion.
You can guarantee Allardyce will be telling his players to target De Gea as often as possible. Dealing with crosses and high balls into the area has always been the weakest aspect of his game. Conversely, this is the specialty of Allardyce’s sides through the years.
De Gea has come up against Allardyce teams multiple times, but United have Henderson available now. The back-up goalkeeper is very competent at dealing with crosses, its one of the areas he excels in comparison to De Gea.
With Henderson playing the two games either side of the match at the Hawthorns, it would make sense just to pick him in three straight matches and give him a chance to really show what he can do. A rest may benefit De Gea too, especially after the Everton game.
Solskjaer can then make a decision what to do during the rest of the campaign. If Henderson doesn’t excel, then he can say he has given him a shot. Hopefully he seizes the moment, and brings about a real debate over who should be United’s number one for the rest of the season.
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