Manchester United goalkeeper David de Gea promised to fight to get “the club back to where it deserves to be” after a 4-1 thrashing at Manchester City.
United headed to the Etihad Stadium on Sunday unbeaten in 11 games in normal time across all competitions, while they were also on the longest unbeaten streak in the Premier League (eight games).
But doubles from Kevin De Bruyne and Riyad Mahrez proved decisive as Ralf Rangnick’s side came crashing back down to reality, with their only consolation Jadon Sancho’s first-half equaliser.
That leaves United a point behind fourth-placed Arsenal, who claimed a 3-2 win at Watford and have played three games fewer than their fellow top-four chasers.
De Gea vowed to battle to return United back to English football’s top table after yet another derby-day humbling against Pep Guardiola’s Premier League leaders.
“We will, one day, get this club back to where it deserves to be,” he posted on Twitter after the game.
“Today was another bad moment in a difficult season but when we still have this shirt to defend we will not give up.”
It has been a difficult season for United, who parted ways with club legend Ole Gunnar Solskjaer in late November after a dismal run of form.
Spain goalkeeper De Gea has been a standout performer for a mostly underwhelming United side, but matters could be worse for the Red Devils if it were not for the 31-year-old.
Only a shaky Leeds United (166), Norwich City (156) and Brentford (145) – all relegation battlers – have conceded more shots on target than United in the league this campaign (140).
That has forced De Gea, who has just seven top-flight clean sheets to his name this term, to make a league-leading 104 saves, with Leeds’ Illan Meslier his closest company after managing 102 stops.
The excellence of De Gea stands out when compared to other goalkeepers in terms of the differential between expected goals on target conceded and the number of times they have been beaten.
Expected goals (xG) on target conceded – a way of measuring not just the quality of a chance but the quality of the attempt itself – when subtracted from goals against measures a goalkeeper’s shot-stopping prowess.
De Gea has prevented 4.21 by that way of comparison, ranking only behind Wolves’ Jose Sa (8.44) in the Premier League.
United will be hoping to make amends for their derby-day performance when they host Tottenham next Saturday, before the return leg of their Champions League last-16 clash with Atletico Madrid three days later.