Manchester United vs. Liverpool: Struggling David De Gea Must Improve

Joseph Schmidt@woeisjoeContributor IIIJanuary 12, 2013

MANCHESTER, ENGLAND - DECEMBER 15:  David de Gea of Manchester United in action during the Barclays Premier League match between Manchester United and Sunderland at Old Trafford on December 15, 2012 in Manchester, England.  (Photo by Clive Mason/Getty Images)
Clive Mason/Getty Images

The latest game in football’s fiercest rivalry almost certainly hinges on the play of one man more than any other. Manchester United’s goalkeeper David de Gea, who has shared duties with Anders Lindegaard throughout the season, has faced bitter scrutiny since Sir Alex Ferguson brought him to Old Trafford in 2011.

In fact, Ferguson is all but ready to get rid of de Gea, according to the Daily Mail, in favor of Stoke's Asmir Begovic or even Liverpool's Pepe Reina.

Although the criticisms of de Gea can be argued, the fact remains that his play must improve if he’s to be United’s main keeper.

He’s finally found some consistency, starting the last seven games.

"I’m happy with my current form and I just need to keep working hard in training and hope that form continues," de Gea said to MUTV (h/t manutd.com).

United has won six of their last seven, and they hold a seven-point lead in the Barclays Premier League going into the game against Liverpool.

Despite the recent string in productivity, Ferguson remains unconvinced and rumors of the keeper playing elsewhere continue to persist.

De Gea knows he must keep up if United wants to stay on top. He told MUTV:

We have to keep going and continue to play the way we are, because we’ve been playing well. That points gap starts to count when you get through to March and April, so we must keep picking up the points in each game.

In their last two EPL games, United shut out West Brom and Wigan Athletic FC.

Heading into Sunday’s game, Manchester United leads with 52 points to Liverpool’s 31. But when it comes to this rivalry, one of the longest and most storied rivalries in professional sports, rankings don’t matter.

Manchester United might be the favorite, but the pride and talent of Liverpool will always make it a close game.

David de Gea might be in for a long night against Luis Suarez and Co.

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