David de Gea is ‘back to his best’ after making SIX saves in Manchester United’s dramatic victory against Villarreal, insists Owen Hargreaves… while Michael Owen praises Spaniard for ‘earning his corn’
David de Gea is ‘back to his best’ form after a magnificent display in Manchester United’s last-gasp victory against Villarreal, according to Owen Hargreaves.
Cristiano Ronaldo once again stole the headlines after netting the winner for United in the fifth minute of stoppage time, after Alex Telles’ superb volley – his first for the club – had cancelled out Paco Alcacer’s opener.
But Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s men were indebted to their Spanish goalkeeper, who kept them in the game by saving six of the seven shots he faced from Unai Emery’s men, including excellent stops from Alcacer and Arnaut Danjuma.
David de Gea (centre) is ‘back to his best’ after shining in Man United’s win against Villarreal
The Spaniard saved six of the seven shots he faced from Unai Emery’s men to keep United in it
And former Red Devils midfielder Hargreaves believes the club can once again ‘rely’ on the 30-year-old goalkeeper following his ‘fabulous’ start to the campaign, in which he has cemented his place as No 1 ahead of Dean Henderson.
‘He made so many big saves.’ Hargreaves told BT Sport. ‘David de Gea was one of the most important players and he’s been fabulous this season, obviously taking over from Dean Henderson.
‘They can rely on him, he’s back to his best.
‘And when you have [Edinson] Cavani and Ronaldo and Bruno Fernandes and [Paul] Pogba at the top of the pitch, you can find a way to win games late.’
Owen Hargreaves (right) and Michael Owen (left) both praised the 30-year-old’s performance
Former United striker Michael Owen meanwhile believes De Gea ‘earned his corn’ when he kept the Spanish side at bay in the first half at Old Trafford.
‘He (De Gea) relied on his defence in the second half, but first half it was save after save and that’s when he really did earn his corn.’
The plaudits represent the latest upturn in De Gea’s fortunes at Old Trafford.
His future at the club was plunged into doubt last season after he lost his place to Henderson and then finished a difficult campaign by missing the decisive penalty in the Europa League final having failed to keep out any of Villarreal’s 11 efforts in the shootout.
Cristiano Ronaldo however stole the headlines after netting a 95th-minute winner
But the Spaniard had been in inspired form even before this latest win, making a crucial save in the win at Wolves and a penalty stop in injury time of the victory at West Ham earlier this month.
Solskjaer revealed before United’s shock defeat by Aston Villa at the weekend that De Gea had asked to cut his summer holiday short in a bid to reignite his career at the club.
‘He did call me in the summer to end his summer holiday earlier and come back and start his pre-season before,’ said Solskjaer. ‘He wanted to be ready and be the best possible version of himself.
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer revealed how De Gea cut his summer holiday short to work on his game
‘Last season was a challenging one. He didn’t play as many games because Dean came in and did very well.
‘David has really worked and he’s focused. Physically and mentally he’s better, and when you feel you’ve done the work and got personal best in a few physical tests, it gives you more confidence and motivation.
‘He plays behind a strong back four but to play in front of David when he’s in this form is good for them.’