Vito Mannone's transfer link to Manchester United was one of the more surprising of this transfer window, but the goalkeeper was this week keen to downplay it.
"I am really living my best time right now at Sunderland and I don't see why I would move right now.
"I want to stay as first choice and I want my performances to improve. That's the only aim I have, apart from aiming to beat Manchester United. That's the only focus I have on Manchester United."
But how does the Italian compare to David de Gea anyway? The 25-year-old has made 12 league starts for the Black Cats this season, providing enough data for an interesting comparison.
Saves per game:
|Player||Team||Saves / apps||Apps|
|David de Gea||Man Utd||2.82||22|
Saves from outside the box:
|David de Gea||Man Utd||27|
Crosses claimed and missed
|Player||Team||Pos||Good High Claim||Cross Not Claimed||Apps|
|David de Gea||Man Utd||GK||15||0||22|
Distribution, accurate long-balls:
|Player||Team||Accurate Long Balls / apps|
|David de Gea||Man Utd||4.27|
Clean sheets per game:
|Player||Team||Clean Sheet / apps|
|David de Gea||Man Utd||0.27|
Intriguingly in all five areas Sunderland goalkeeper Vito Mannone comes out on top. Now far be it to suggest the £2 million signing from Arsenal is 'better' than the stopper Manchester United paid £20 million for but he has done himself no disservice this season.
Naturally playing for a team at the bottom of the table you would imagine Mannone's defence would allow more shots on goal, and statistics show Sunderland allow an average of 16.5 shots per game against United's 12.
Yet that makes Mannone's clean sheet ratio all the more impressive, and his distribution considering he is more regularly under pressure. He has certainly had enough practice for the pressure which awaits at Old Trafford tomorrow night.
image: © wonker