The case for Dean Henderson

Dean Henderson kept another clean sheet yesternight as Manchester United beat AC Milan 1-0 at the San Siro to progress to the quarter-finals of the UEFA Europa League.

The English stopper had a good game as United kept yet another clean sheet. He made a big save on the night to deny Zlatan Ibrahimovic from close quarters as the hosts sought to equalize and take the tie into extra time.

It was the Englishman’s sixth clean sheet in the last seven games, and his 11th overall this season. Henderson is proving himself to be a solid option between the sticks for Solskjær’s men, and the side looks much improved with him in it.

For much of this season, however, Henderson has had to play second fiddle to David De Gea. He’s often had to settle for cup starts and the rare league appearances but has proved himself a worthy candidate for the number one spot with these limited opportunities.

Henderson boasts superior numbers in many statistical metrics than his Spanish counterpart. The Englishman has kept 11 clean sheets in 17 starts for United in all competitions, one more than De Gea has managed in 29 starts for the Red devils.

This puts Henderson’s clean sheet percentage at 64.7% which squashes De Gea’s 34.5% so far this season. The young Englishman also has a much better save percentage, having stopped 82.5% of all shots he’s faced in comparison to De Gea’s 66%, per FBREF.

Dean Henderson, David De Gea, Manchester United.
Henderson (right) boasts superior statistics and has kept more clean sheets than his Spanish goalkeeping counterpart this season. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED BY FOURFOURTWO.

Many would argue that the quality of opposition Henderson has faced till now has perhaps helped his cause statistically, but it’s not just the numbers that present a case for the young shot-stopper.

The Englishman possesses several intangible qualities that give him an edge over De Gea in goal. He’s a lot braver on the ball and is a lot more willing to come off his line to deal with opposition attacks before they develop.

Henderson is vocal and imposing. He boasts a huge presence even though he stands at just 1.88m tall. He is proactive, preferring to deal with plays before they happen rather than waiting for them to develop.

De Gea in comparison can be very timid and reactive, preferring to allow things to unfold and then dealing with the results. Henderson is also much younger and hungrier and seems discontent with just a number two berth at United.

The Englishman is looking towards international football and being England’s number one at the UEFA Euro 2020. He cannot achieve this without regular playing time and reports suggest that he could look to move his talents elsewhere.

The final decision on which goalkeeper United move forward with ultimately rests with Solskjær and his staff, but as it stands, there is undoubtedly a strong case for Dean Henderson to be that man.

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