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Dublin: 15 °C Saturday 21 September, 2019

De Gea outstanding again and more Premier League talking points

Both Chelsea and Man United showed signs of improvement in today’s 4pm clash.

Manchester United goalkeeper David De Gea saves from Chelsea's Branislav Ivanovic.
Manchester United goalkeeper David De Gea saves from Chelsea's Branislav Ivanovic.
Image: Nick Potts

1. United and Chelsea improving but not quite there yet

SPEAKING ON SKY, Graeme Souness said today was the best performance he had seen from United this season, and it was hard to disagree.

For large spells of the game, they controlled the play and made Chelsea looked quite ordinary on their home turf.

There was a greater attacking threat and inventiveness to United’s play, with overlapping full-backs Cameron Borthwick-Jackson and Matteo Darmian constantly causing Chelsea problems down the flanks, while Wayne Rooney and Sky Sports man-of-the-match Juan Mata both looked sharper this afternoon than they have done for much of the season.

At the back, United continue to give little away, while Anthony Martial and Jesse Lingard both showed glimpses of why they are considered such fantastic prospects. All of a sudden, therefore, the outlook seems a little less negative for embattled manager Louis van Gaal.

Chelsea, similarly, are seemingly improving substantially after their dreadful start to the season.

Having been poor at times in recent months, Diego Costa, Cesc Fabregas and Eden Hazard have all contributed to the club’s 11-game unbeaten run since Guus Hiddink’s appointment.

Costa and Fabregas, in particular, linked up sublimely to allow the Brazilian-born striker to finish coolly and break United hearts in the dying seconds of today’s closely fought encounter.

2. De Gea consolidates standing as Premier League’s best goalkeeper

As good as Hugo Lloris, Petr Cech and Thibaut Courtois have all been in recent times, you would be hard pressed to find a better Premier League goalkeeper than David De Gea right now.

After his move to Real Madrid broke down at the end of the summer transfer window, De Gea has reacted like a model professional, continuing to excel and earn his side plenty of extra points with some accomplished performances.

Today at Stamford Bridge was no exception, as the Spaniard pulled off three excellent saves to keep Chelsea at bay until Costa’s late leveller, which he could do little about.

The 25-year-old’s situation will therefore be an interesting one to watch in the summer, especially if United miss out on Champions League football for next season, as is looking increasingly likely following today’s disappointing outcome.

3. Ozil starting to look like a player-of-the-season contender

AFC Bournemouth v Arsenal - Barclays Premier League - Vitality Stadium Arsenal's Mesut Ozil scores his side's first goal of the game. Source: John Walton

Like Arsenal in general, Mesut Ozil has seemed a little off form of late, but he was back with a bang at Bournemouth this afternoon.

The 27-year-old German international has been arguably Arsenal’s best player this season. He is comfortably top of the assists charts on 16 — his nearest challenger, Riyad Mahrez, has 10.

But the Gunners were on the racks going into a tricky-looking fixture away to Bournemouth earlier, having failed to win their last four league games before today.

Yet Ozil came good when his side badly needed him to, scoring a beautifully taken opening goal (his sixth of the season) and generally having a big influence on proceedings, demonstrating his characteristic intelligent passing and movement in the process.

After the game, Arsene Wenger paid tribute to his star man, who helped send Arsenal level on points with title rivals Tottenham in second.

“Mesut has become a very important player,” the French manager told reporters. “He has added a fighting attitude today.

“It was a top, top, top performance from him.

“He scored with his right foot, which is very interesting for us. If he scores with his right foot, he will become even stronger.”

4. Depay shows his inexperience

There has been plenty of pressure on winger Memphis Depay since his reported £25 million (€32 million) move to Man United from PSV in the summer.

It’s important to remember, however, that the player is far from the finished product at 21.

And Depay demonstrated a degree of inexperience this afternoon. After replacing Jesse Lingard in the 87th minute, the out-of-favour winger looked overly anxious to impress.

With United on the attack in the dying moments, the Dutch international had a chance to retain possession and run the ball into the corner. Instead, he ill-advisedly attempted to play a killer pass and gave the ball straight back to Chelsea, who proceeded to go up the other end and score.

After the game, Louis van Gaal was clearly unhappy, making a none-too-subtle allusion to Depay’s mistake.

You would consequently hope for his own sake that the youngster learns from his error and recognises the importance of being ruthless and killing games off in future.

LVG did not seem best pleased with Memphis after United dropped points today>

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About the author:

Paul Fennessy

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