Most people (including myself) were shocked to find out that Brad Jones would be selected over Simon Mignolet between the sticks for Liverpool. The Belgian has had nothing short of a dreadful season for the Reds. A howler against Ludogorets, which ended up to be crucial in Liverpools’ exit out of the Champions League, and an own goal vs Leicester have summed up his season so far. Brendan Rodgers decided to pull a trick out of Manuel Pellegrini’s magic book by starting Australian international Brad Jones who had only made 8 Premier League appearances for Liverpool before today. But will it make a difference like it did for Pellegrini? Last season The Manchester city manager took the liberty of benching Joe hart and started Costel Pantilimon. The result? A resurgent Joe Hart earned back his spot which brought back his confidence. But lets face it. Mignolet has not been the same since his horrible mistake against Manchester City last Boxing Day.
On the other side we have David de Gea. Bar none the best goalkeeper this season in all of Europe’s top 5 leagues. Making crucial saves that set the tone for the game. The Spaniard has easily saved Manchester 15+ points which would land them just below Sunderland in 15th. De Gea has evolved from a lanky, un-confident kid to a more stable, mature goalkeeper.
So let’s take a look on how these players’ performances explained the game. David de Gea made a beautiful stop to deny Raheem Sterling a clear cut chance at goal and send Manchester United through on the counter. Only a matter of seconds later Antonio Valencia ripped through the left hand side of Liverpool’s woeful defence and squared the ball to Wayne Rooney. The former Evertonian calmly tucked the ball past Brad Jones who already dove the opposite direction. The sequence of events in that 23 seconds summarizes the differences between Manchester United and Liverpool.
Throughout the game de Gea pulled off world class saves to deny Raheem Sterling and Mario Balotelli. This prompted United legend Ole Gunnar Solskjaer to say, “ The best goalkeeping performance I’ve seen at Old Trafford”. While David de Gea was denying Balotelli to keep Liverpool out of the game, on the other side of the field Jones was undone by a Juan Mata no look pass to Robin Van Persie who causally sealed all 3 points for the red devils.
Although David de Gea’s flying form is the epitome of Manchester United’s performance this season, just as equal , the two keepers for Liverpool represent their form this premier league term.“ A great goalkeeper,” says Sir Alex Ferguson,” is worth 15 points over the course of a season.” Looks like the Scot has got this one right.
Credit all authors of images used in both article and as cover image : David Sanchez