Manchester United’s clash with Stoke City was plagued with disappointment from the beginning when Rooney was ruled out with a hamstring injury.
Jonny Evans then sustained an injury during the pre-match warm up, forcing United into making changes in the defence just before kick-off. Things were not looking up for United when Javier Hernandez had to come off after 11 minutes following a clash with Woodgate and Begovic, an incident which should probably have seen United awarded a penalty.
Nani was again the best attacker in the United team, providing the only goal from a frustrated side. Phil Jones was yet again solid in the defence as he continued to prove to be an instrumental part of the team, he also looked impressive going forward. Unfortunately Jones faltered slightly in not picking up Crouch to prevent the goal.
However our Man of the Match was well deserved by the great Edwin Van Der Sar’s successor. Van Der Sar left massive shoes to fill when he retired at the end of last season and young David De Gea struggled to step in to them. Starting his career with a good few blunders in his first few games saw pressure mount on him, certainly so after Anders Lindegaard put in an impressive performance against Benfica in Europe.
De Gea’s fist involvement in the match saw him again looking slightly shaky as he only managed to slap a throw from Rory Delap away, however he still prevented the danger and looked stronger from this point on.
When Andy Wilkinson burst into the box and blasted a shot from close range De Gea kept the United net untouched. The 20 year old new boy left nothing to question over his shot stopping ability with his lightening fast reflexes punching Wilkinson’s shot out of play.
De Gea denied Stoke again when Jonathan Walters curled a tricky shot along the ground. De Gea went to ground doing just enough to tip Walters’ shot round the post with an outstretched arm as it curled away from him.
De Gea could hardly be blamed for the Stoke City goal. A blip in the United defence gifted Peter Crouch the chance of an easy header which he sent into the United net, leaving De Gea little chance of getting to the ball.
United were saved by their keeper once again when the defence fell away allowing Jermaine Pennant a cross, finding Crouch unmarked directly in front of goal. De Gea made himself big and bravely denied Crouch and saved the point for United.
In his first couple of matches De Gea did not look adapted to the English game as he allowed himself to be bullied in the box and was pushed around at set pieces and crosses. Stoke City are one of the most physical teams in the league and one who are very good at giving goalkeepers problems with their tall players. However De Gea stood up strong and for the first time looked like United had a solid replacement for Van Der Sar.