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Luke Shaw Backs 'World Class' David De Gea to Bounce Back from Watford Howler

Tom Sunderland@@TomSunderland_Featured ColumnistDecember 23, 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 defender Luke Shaw has backed "world-class" goalkeeper and team-mate David De Gea to respond well after he conceded an embarrassing opener during their 2-0 loss at Watford on Sunday.

United's No. 1 missed a routine save to concede at his near post from Ismaila Sarr's tame-looking attempt, earning widespread criticism as United slipped back to eighth in the Premier League.

Shaw, 24, made his third consecutive Premier League start in the defeat at Vicarage Road, and he told MUTV after the game he was confident De Gea, 29, would return to form:

"Of course, it was a freak goal. David has saved us so many times in so many different matches over the years he has been here. There is no way you can point any blame at him at all.

"He is a world-class goalkeeper, and I am sure he will pick himself up.

"I am sure all of the lads will be around him. David is David. He is always happy, so, hopefully, he can stay happy and focus on the game on Boxing Day."

Sarr, 21, scored for the second time in five games despite De Gea seemingly having the near post covered at the time of his strike, via Sky Sports (UK viewers only):

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

Aaron Wan-Bissaka gave away a penalty for a foul in the box minutes after Sarr's breakthrough, and captain Troy Deeney fired past De Gea to complete Watford'd four-minute turnaround:

It's no secret the quality of United's defence has diminished since the end of the Sir Alex Ferguson era in 2013, but it's become more apparent in the past two years that De Gea's individual quality seems to have declined.

Former Red Devils defender Gary Neville was perplexed by De Gea's error away to Watford during his Sky Sports commitments on Sunday:

Sky Sports Premier League @SkySportsPL

😂 It's fair to say @GNev2 could not believe what he was seeing there, watching David De Gea's error. Watch Super Sunday live on Sky Sports PL now 📺 https://t.co/mVlxy7KubR

The Spain international is 15th this season in saves per game among Premier League goalkeepers who have made at least five appearances, per WhoScored.com (2.8 saves per 90 minutes).

Those statistics are to be taken with a pinch of salt, however, considering Dean Henderson—a United keeper earning rave reviews on loan at Sheffield United—is 20th in the league and averages only 2.5 saves per 90 minutes.

That being said, the Red Devils may not feel they're getting the correct value out of De Gea, the world's highest-paid goalkeeper, per football finance analyst Kieran Maguire:

PriceOfFootball @KieranMaguire

David De Gea is on £375,000 a week for six seasons after signing a new deal. Total cost £117 million in wages for Manchester United #MUFC https://t.co/AIKWc2NAS0

Manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer spent £80 million to sign centre-back Harry Maguire from Leicester City this past summer, but his influence can't prevent errors such as De Gea's at Watford.

The United No. 1 has weathered tumultuous times in the past at Old Trafford and will hope to respond with a more assured performance when the Red Devils host Newcastle United on Boxing Day.