Man United goalkeeper David De Gea has struggled to nail down his spot as the club's number one choice since his switch from Atletico Madrid in the summer of 2011 and questions were once again asked of the Spaniard following his below-par performance against West Ham in the FA Cup.
With Anders Lindegaard also showing signs of inconsistency, reports suggest that United boss Sir Alex Ferguson could move for a more established goalkeeper in January, as he looks to sure up his leaky backline. The Red Devil's greatest teams under Fergie boasted the might of Peter Schmeichel and Edwin van der Sar in goal, and the Scot will be well aware that their Champions League hopes could be undermined by dodgy defending.
Fergie is reportedly considering signing a new 'keeper, with the likes of Asmir Begovic and Liverpool's Pepe Reina mentioned a potential targets. But how do these 'keepers compare to De Gea? We've got their stats from the past two Premier League seasons, correct up to 7 January 2013, going back to the start of the 2011/12 season…
Over the past few seasons, the Stoke City goalkeeper has been a solid presence between the sticks, a trait which has seen him earmarked as a potential target for Man United. Stoke had the fifth best defensive record in Europe prior to the turn of the year, which was in no small part thanks to Begovic, but over the past two seasons his record is not quite up there with De Gea's and Reina's.
Over the past 18 months Begovic has the lowest minutes-to-goals ratio of the three goalkeepers, conceding a goal every 76.20 minutes, but he does enjoy a very good catch rate (95.29%), completing 85 of 89 catches, to underline his strength in the air and his ability to deal with crosses, something current Man United goalkeeper David De Gea continues to struggle with.
Verdict: A strong, capable goalkeeper, who has shown that with a tight defence in front of him can be almost unbeatable. Would certainly strengthen Man United's leaky backline.
Reina's tag as being a bit 'dodgy' in recent times appear slightly disingenuous. Over the past two seasons, questions have been asked about Reina's position as Liverpool number one, with fingers being pointed at his concentration levels and decision-making.
As can be seen above, the Spanish international boasts a spotless record when it comes to attempted catches, dispelling many of the doubts around that area of his game. However, one area which appears to be a cause for concern is his saves-to-shots ratio. At 67.80%, he has by far the lowest total of the three, and seems suspect when it comes to shot-stopping. While he may also have conceded the most over the past 18 months, it must be pointed out that Reina has played nine more league fixtures than De Gea and seven more than Begovic, still managing to keep clean sheets in well over a third of these games.
Verdict: Reina is still a much more solid goalkeeper than people perhaps give him credit for, although there remain some question marks over areas of his game. He would undoubtedly be a great signing for most Premier League teams, but Man United and Liverpool's relationship would make any move difficult.
David De Gea
De Gea has been criticised for his uncertainty in goal and being unable to command his penalty area. While he appears more confident than his debut season last year, he has still conceded 17 times in the league this season.
He has been widely criticised for his lack of presence in the air, and while he shows a 94.87% success rate for catches, his much higher punch total compared to Begovic and Reina suggest he is still struggling with crosses. However, De Gea continues to excel as a shot stopper, saving 76.77% of all shots faced and as such boasts the best minutes-to-goals conceded rate of 82.17 mins-per-goal.
Verdict: There is still a way to go until he really fills that United goalkeeper's jersey, but while it would perhaps be unfair to replace him at such an early stage, his vulnerability in the air, paired with his inexperience, mean question marks will continue to remain over his effectiveness as United's number one.
Should Man United look to bring in a more experienced goalkeeper in January? Should Fergie stick with the goalkeepers he has? Let us know your thoughts by commenting below...