Whilst all eyes will be, as per usual, on the vast array of attacking talent out there on the pitch on Sunday, two young men at the opposite end of the pitch will be all-important cogs in their team’s wheel.
Manchester United’s David De Gea and Manchester City’s Joe Hart are two of the most gifted young goalkeepers on the planet. The former has yet to fully acquaint himself with Spain at international level due to the level of quality and experienced competition ahead of him whilst Hart is the undisputed England number one aged just 26.
In 2011/12 City won the title off the back of a commanding and impressive season between the sticks for Hart but last term the Blues’ stopper came under fire for a fair few blunders and costly mistakes.
That same season, David De Gea arrived in the Premier League and found it something of a calamitous debut aged just 20, but last term the Spaniard came on leaps and bounds and improved to present himself as a youthful competitor for his compatriots Iker Casillas and Victor Valdes at national level in his homeland.
Last term De Gea played 2,520 minutes of Premier League football, kept 11 clean sheets and conceded 26 goals. Hart, by comparison, played 3,420 minutes, kept 18 clean sheets and conceded 34 goals.
De Gea made a total of 84 saves across the season to Hart’s 78, making his save percentage rate significantly higher than his elder’s – De Gea saved 76% to Hart’s 69%.
The Spaniard now 22 and three years Hart’s junior played fewer games, made more saves and conceded fewer goals overall (skewed slightly because he played fewer games) but – crucially – Hart kept seven more clean sheets than his United counterpart and, furthermore, kept the most clean sheets in the league last term.
Perhaps a more accurate measure is the number of minutes per goal conceded – Hart edges just a head of De Gea with his 101 minutes per goal conceded to De Gea’s 97 minutes per goal conceded. It’s very very close.
Aerially – an area in which the De Gea had struggled in his first term – they are very close, almost too close to call. De Gea caught 22 crosses and missed 2, Hart caught 26 and missed 3 which, again, is skewed by the fewer minutes De Gea played last season.
So, that’s the past, how are they performing now? Joe Hart has conceded 3 goals across 4 games and kept 3 clean sheets compared to De Gea’s 2 goals conceded and 2 clean sheets across 4 games played.
However, De Gea will have gained confidence via his four clean sheets out of five games for Spain’s U21’s in the European Championships this year, whilst Hart conceded two goals in one appearances for England this term already.
On paper, the two keepers are very close – I would definitely say Hart, as the elder, has the advantage of more experience, especially given his development in England and his higher status at international level but, given time and with added development, De Gea could likely surpass Hart's current level in the years to come.
image: © illarterate