Manchester United completely outclassed Spanish side Real Sociedad in the Europa League Round of 32 first leg this evening, winning the game 4-0, but it could have been a different story had substitute goalkeeper Dean Henderson not pulled out an excellent save early in the first half.
The keeper exuded confidence throughout the game and stamped his authority in the second half with an excellent commanding punch to clear his lines.
The game in Turin was Henderson’s sixth clean sheet of the season – from 12 games, giving an average of 1 clean sheet every two games.
By contrast, first choice keeper David de Gea has managed nine clean sheets this term from 27 games – an average of 1 in 3.
It could be argued that Henderson has played ‘easier’ games, such as EFL and FA Cup ties, while De Gea has played the majority of Premier League and Champions League matches. Yet that also means that Henderson has played behind rotated sides, with changing personnel who are not as used to playing alongside each other.
However, six clean sheets in 12 is surely enough evidence to persuade United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer to give Henderson a bigger test and give him an extended run in the team now to prove his worth.
A few mistakes could come – as they did in De Gea’s first season and even in that of the great Peter Schmeichel. But the England man is showing excellent form while De Gea continues to make errors, so it is time that Solskjaer nails his colours to the mast and stands by the keeper who best represents the future of Manchester United.
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