David De Gea Howler Hands Watford Shock Win vs. Manchester United

Matt JonesFeatured ColumnistDecember 22, 2019

WATFORD, ENGLAND - DECEMBER 22: David De Gea of Manchester United fails to save a shot from Ismaila Sarr of Watford (not pictured) which results in the first goal for Watford scored by Ismaila Sarr of Watford during the Premier League match between Watford FC and Manchester United at Vicarage Road on December 22, 2019 in Watford, United Kingdom. (Photo by Richard Heathcote/Getty Images)
Richard Heathcote/Getty Images

Manchester United were stunned in the Premier League on Sunday, after they suffered a shock 2-0 loss to bottom club Watford at Vicarage Road.

The visitors were unable to settle in the opening period, although they did create the best chance of the half; Jesse Lingard fired over the bar when he played through on goal.

In the second half, two goals in three minutes set the game alight. Ismaila Sarr benefitted from some ropey handling from United goalkeeper David De Gea to break the deadlock, before Troy Deeney smashed home a penalty; Sarr was brought down after a poor challenge from Aaron Wan-Bissaka.

Before the game, the following statistic from Match of the Day summed up what a fractured season it's been for the Hornets: 

Match of the Day @BBCMOTD

This is Troy Deeney's fourth Premier League home appearance this season. Each game has come under a different manager. #WATMUN #bbcfootball 👉 https://t.co/JcozejvQz2 https://t.co/FV81RdDXN6

United were not able to capitalise on that instability in the initial exchanges, as a scrappy game broke out.

It was clear the Red Devils had the superior quality in the final third, although the likes of Marcus Rashford, Anthony Martial and Daniel James struggled to create any major opportunities. 

Lingard should have given them the lead after 33 minutes nevertheless, as he was played through on goal by Martial. The forward lofted the ball aimlessly over the bar, though, showcasing the kind of profligacy that's resulted in no Premier League goals for him since December 2018.

At half-time, Jack Pitt-Brooke of The Athletic summed up what was a half to forget for United, who were unable to make their extra quality count: 

Jack Pitt-Brooke @JackPittBrooke

Manchester United seem to perfectly replicate the level of whoever they are playing. Good against Spurs, brilliant at City, but routinely bad against the lesser sides. They are a chameleon team. Like a glitzier version of Slaven Bilic’s West Ham.

After the break, the game was ignited by two costly errors from Red Devils players, with De Gea the first to blunder.

Somehow, the Spaniard let Sarr's weak shot slip through his hands and into the back of the net: 

Sky Sports Premier League @SkySportsPL

Oh no, David de Gea 🙈 📺 Watch on Sky Sports Premier League 📱 Follow #WATMUN here: https://t.co/oHysEgKG9M 📲 Download the @SkySports app! https://t.co/KbHiP6gmsY

Per Squawka Football, these types of mistakes have been coming around frequently for the United stopper: 

Squawka Football @Squawka

Since the start of the 2018/19 Premier League season, no player has made more errors leading to goals (6) than David de Gea. 😳 https://t.co/OMKXfcAX0V

Within three minutes, the Red Devils found themselves two goals down, with Wan-Bissaka the man to make a poor choice on this occasion.

The young defender went to ground in the area, tripping Sarr and giving the referee no choice but to award a penalty. From the spot, Deeney hammered his shot down the middle and suddenly United had a mountain to climb.

In an attempt to get back into the game, United brought Paul Pogba off the bench for his first appearance since September. However, there was no major improvement in the Red Devils' performance.

Bleacher Report's Dean Jones offered a critical assessment of the players in the United squad:

Dean Jones @DeanJonesBR

United end of season clearance sale: just get rid of everyone apart from Rashford, McTominay, Wan-Bissaka, Greenwood and James 🤷🏻‍♂️

In the latter stages, the expected onslaught from the visitors didn't materialise, and it was Watford who looked the most likely to grab the next goal. Gerard Deulofeu, in particular, was causing big issues for the away side.

The win for Watford doesn't lift them off the bottom of the table, but they are now level on points with Norwich City in 19th. United remain in eighth.


What's Next?

The Red Devils will be back on home soil on Boxing Day, when they take on Newcastle United. Watford will visit high-flying Sheffield United on the same day.