Rui Vieira/Associated Press
Manchester United made it five Premier League wins in a row on Sunday, beating Tottenham Hotspur at Wembley Stadium. Marcus Rashford scored the only goal in the 1-0 win, but David de Gea stole the show with a series of great saves.
The visitors were the better side before half-time and deservedly took the lead, with Paul Pogba finding Rashford with a great pass. De Gea stole the headlines after the break, preserving a clean sheet despite tons of pressure from the hosts.
The Red Devils remain unbeaten under interim manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer.
De Gea Remains the Premier League’s Best
The battle for the title of “Premier League’s Best Goalkeeper” received several new contenders during the summer, as both Liverpool and Chelsea broke the record for the most expensive transfer in the position within the same window.
Alisson Becker was coming off a phenomenal campaign for AS Roma, while Kepa Arrizabalaga had been a standout for Athletic Bilbao for years. The Spaniard had almost joined Real Madrid earlier in the year, per El Larguero (via AS), but would instead become the replacement for new Blancos stopper Thibaut Courtois.
Both Chelsea and Liverpool fans will undoubtedly be happy with what those two have shown so far. But despite their lofty price tags and solid form this season, they remain firmly rooted behind De Gea in the league’s pecking order.
Spain’s No. 1 turned Sunday’s clash at Wembley into a one-man show after the break, earning tons of praise for a series of exceptional saves:
BBC 5 Live Sport @5liveSport
‘De Gea is the best goalkeeper in the world with his feet’
The #MUFC keeper has already made eight saves this afternoon…
📻📲 – https://t.co/bs6RxRDKes
#TOTMUN 0-1 https://t.co/J5LfRFZMDj
Last year was not a good one for De Gea due to his struggles at the World Cup, and things have gotten so bad that La Roja fans want him benched, per AS‘ Marco Gonzalez.
Those struggles and the excellent play of Atletico Madrid’s Jan Oblak and Barcelona’s Marc-Andre ter Stegen mean there’s a debate to be had about who is the best in the world. De Gea’s club form can’t be ignored, however, and he remains the gold standard among Premier League stoppers.
United Should Show Patience with Solskjaer
Anyone hoping Solskjaer’s latest strong showing―this time against a man who is among the favourites for the full-time job―will lead to the interim boss getting the job for real should take a long, hard look at the situation at Real Madrid.
Earlier this season Santiago Solari came in as Julen Lopetegui’s replacement and restored some much-needed positivity, earning a promotion after a few good results. Since then Los Blancos’ slump has returned, leaving the team outside of the Champions League spots at the time of writing.
There’s no denying the work Solskjaer has done for United, and it was once again on display at Wembley:
Daniel Storey @danielstorey85
Paul Pogba playing gorgeous passes, Anthony Martial running at players, Marcus Rashford finishing chances. These players weren’t bad, they were broken by their manager.
But as noted by ESPN FC, the schedule is about to heat up for the Red Devils:
Solskjaer should have a fair chance of earning the job and so far he has passed every test with flying colours. But there is no need to make any decision on his future―or that of the club―before the summer, especially with United not expected to vie for silverware.
United shouldn’t make the same mistake Real did in promoting the interim boss too soon. Some fans may call for it after yet another positive result, but the Red Devils shouldn’t budge.
Spurs’ Slow Defence Needs Sanchez
There was quite a bit of buzz surrounding the partnership of Toby Alderweireld and Jan Vertonghen on Sunday, with many noting Spurs’ excellent record when those two play together:
Tottenham’s last defeat when Alderweireld and Vertonghen have started alongside each other in a two-man central defence came in August 2017.
Vertonghen hadn’t started a match since December 12, when Spurs drew with Barcelona at the Camp Nou, and his return meant the in-form Davinson Sanchez moved to the bench.
United recognised the absence of the athletic Colombian and targeted the Belgian duo with a series of balls over the top that found their mark more often than not. Both Rashford and Jesse Lingard did tons of damage with their pace, and it ultimately led to the half-time lead:
Huw Davies @thehuwdavies
Feels like a draw at half-time would be fairer on the balance of play if it wasn’t for the fact that Tottenham’s defence looks so questionable today. But it does, so here we are.
Alderweireld and Vertonghen are excellent defenders, but their relative lack of pace means they need to be flanked by someone like Sanchez against the best counter-attacking teams. The former Ajax man is a stud youngster who has proven himself at this level, and after such a good run of form, he should not drop back to the bench.
Alderweireld will be available for a bargain fee of just £25 million in the summer and is expected to leave the club―Spurs may as well turn to Sanchez full-time as soon as possible, knowing he’s their defensive star of the future.
United host Brighton & Hove Albion on Saturday, while Spurs will visit Fulham on Sunday.