Not for the first time David De Gea is getting flack for an error. The finger has been pointed at the Manchester United keeper after his inability to deal with crosses cost the Reds an injury time equalizer against Tottenham with Clint Dempsey the beneficiary.
It was not the first time the young Spaniard has palmed a shot or cross back into the danger zone. The same thing happened against Newcastle on Boxing Day, when a Demba Ba shot was pushed back to the feet of James Perch, who made no mistake.
However, it must be remembered that De Gea is only 22 and learning on the job at a high-pressure club in a league which challenges goalkeepers in a different way to La Liga. He also had the highest save-per-shot ration in the Premier League last season.
His saves-to-shot ratio continues to be better than Man City and England’s Joe Hart who has also made high-profile errors this season without having the same level of scrutiny imposed on him.
But even so there have been calls for Alex Ferguson to drop De Gea in favour of Anders Lindergaard. The Dane has come in whenever United’s No 1 has been dropped or injured.
But can the statistics tell us whether Lindegaard can be an upgrade on his team-mate?
De Gea has started almost twice the number of games that Lindegaard has. But in 15 games, De Gea has conceded 19, while it is 11 goals in eight for Lindegaard.
There is no denying that the Spaniard is the better shot-stopper. His saves-per-shot rate is at 75 per cent – the third highest in the Premier League after Chelsea’s Petr Cech and West Ham’s Jussi Jaaskalainen- while Lindegaard has saved 62 per cent of shots on target, a low figure by Premier League standards.
De Gea also makes more saves per 90 minutes than Lindegaard, but it is his decision-making that raises clouds of concern over the former Atletico Madrid man.
De Gea has punched away 19 shots or crosses in his 15 starts, catching only 10. As the Tottenham game showed, punching crosses is a risky venture in the Premier League in comparison to La Liga.
In contrast Lindegaard prefers to catch crosses rather than punch them. In his eight starts he has only punched the ball away four times, catching twice as many.
But with a poor shots-to-save ratio, there is no reason for Lindegaard to usurp De Gea in the long run. The most pressing matter is the work done on the training ground with the Spaniard.
There must be an emphasis on his decision-making as well his upper body strength to give him the confidence to claim crosses rather than punch them away. These skills can all be taught.
And it must be noted that United’s defensive issues have not been helped by Nemanja Vidic’s long-term injury and the lack of a ball winner in midfield.