During the earlier days of football, we have had some great goalkeepers who acquired legendary status among all players in the game. Lev Yashin is the only goalkeeper to ever win the prestigious Ballon D Or award till date. After Yashin's era, the likes of the great Colombian Rene Higuita and the Cameroon legend Thomas N'Kono continued to emphasize the importance of the #1, through their performances. Afterwards, Oliver Kahn and then Gianluigi Buffon and Iker Casillas continued to be superior in front of goal but not facing goal.
But even after all these years, never has time come when we have so many world-class keepers around. The wages and transfer fees for goalkeepers have never been so high as they are now. In the Premier League itself, we have Joe Hart, Alisson Becker, Bernd Leno, Kepa Arrizabalaga, Hugo Lloris and of course David De Gea. The Spaniard is one of the very few keepers in history to be considered the best and most valuable player of a team. Buffon was a prime figure in 2006 World Cup for Italy but his teammate Fabio Cannavaro won individual honours that year. Casillas' performances have been shadowed by the presence of the glittering midfield of Xavi and Iniesta in Spain and obviously Raul at Madrid before Cristiano came in.
David De Gea though even with the presence of class players in his team, is considered the most valuable player among the Red Devils. He has won the Sir Matt Busby Player of the Year award a record 4 times now. Not only is he winning the award but he is also delivering top-notch performances season after season, only ever improving. When earlier this season Juventus faced Manchester United, De Gea against Ronaldo was a much-talked-of battle. The Spaniard put up a great show in both legs, conceding once from 'CR7' and also denying him 2-3 other chances.
Ever since he saved that penalty against Robin Van Persie, he has been lauded as the next-big-thing. And surely now, he is the MVP in the Manchester United team. There have been games where he made sure United get the win and there have been games where the team lost but he was the lone-warrior. But there are rarely any games where the team loses because he was sub-par. (Spain vs Portugal in the World Cup to recall one) More often than not, he flexes every joint in his body to get something behind the wall.
When the Spurs hosted Manchester United at Wembley, nobody thought that we are going to see yet another De Gea masterclass. Not due to the doubt about De Gea's capability but because of the improved defense and attacks from the Red Devils. But surely, even after so much improvement, the Reds needed their MVP to step up. De Gea made 11 saves in his MOTM performance against Spurs. But where does it rank among his best? Let us take a look at the best of De Gea from recent history.
#5 Manchester United 1-0 Bournemouth, Premier League 2017-18
Last season in December, the Red Devils fell to a 2-1 loss in the Manchester Derby. 11 points adrift the league leaders and eventual winners Manchester City, the Red Devils had to keep winning to consolidate second-place. Their next challenge, Eddie Howe's Bournemouth, who had lost only one of their last 6 games coming into this one. The Cherries were not a team who'd park the bus, they were one of the bigger attacking threats.
With defensive tactics and a shambolic defense to support him, David De Gea had little help in the game from his defensive line. Bournemouth's attackers Joe King and Callum Wilson won more aerials combined than the center-back duo of Jones and Smalling. This goes to show the defensive contribution.
De Gea made a total of 7 saves in the game. The performance still appears in the top 10 of most saves made in a single game by the Spaniard. De Gea denied Charlie Daniels's drive, a near-post drive by Dan Gosling and a deflected shot from Junior Stanislas to mention a notable few. The best of the game was perhaps the save which came off a miscue. Ryan Fraser's attempted cross curled into the near post of De Gea, who had moved two steps ahead of his goal line. The Spaniard reacted in time to keep the ball out.
Bournemouth attempted a total of 14 shots on goal. Half of them found the target but every time the target was David De Gea. The Spaniard made sure that a one-goal lead is kept intact for 75 long minutes.