Manchester United beat Everton today 2-1 on the back of goals from Angel di Maria and Radamel Falcao, with Everton's Steven Naismith scoring between the two. United keeper David de Gea was truly remarkable, turning in a man of the match performance. Let's take a look at five things we learned from today's match.
1. David De Gea is the best goalkeeper in the Premier League
Sure, some may say that Chelsea keeper Thibaut Courtois is the best, but in this writer's mind there is no doubt it is De Gea. The Spaniard made four terrific saves, two of which were truly mind-blowing. He became the first man to stop a Leighton Baines penalty in the Premier League, and Baines is now 14/15 from all time. In the second half, De Gea made two great saves from Leon Osman and a truly remarkable save from Brian Oviedo which is pictured above. United's most consistent performer last term, De Gea certainly looks ready to become one of the best keepers in the world.
2. United really should finish in the top four
Manchester City and especially Chelsea look the class sides in the league, but below them it looks to be a scrap for the top four. Arsenal have strengthened well, but aside from them every other likely contender is struggling. Everton continue to look a shadow of last year's team, as do their neighbors across Stanley Park. Meanwhile, Tottenham Hotspur still have a Gareth Bale sized hole in their lineup and look certain to miss out on the Champions League again. While United are still dealing with an injury crisis and a leaky looking defence, on the basis of what they can do going forward they should finish in the top four.
3. The defense looks better, but it needs improvement
Speaking of that defence, they put in a much better performance today. Young Paddy McNair continues to impress, and looks one for the future, while fellow youth team product Tyler Blackett made his return from suspension and looked assured again at the back. The defense as a whole looks to be grasping Louis Van Gaal's system, but there were still issues today. For all of his attacking quality, Luke Shaw does not look entirely comfortable defending and fell asleep before conceding the penalty at the end of the first half. The defense progressively dropped deeper over the match's final 15 minutes, and relied on De Gea's individual brilliance to save the points. While this attack will outscore most teams, the defense needs to improve so it can hold on to leads late in games.
4. The kids are alright
Much was made of Danny Welbeck's transfer to Arsenal and how it meant the end of United's famous policy of giving youth its head, but that now seems unfounded. McNair, Blackett and young James Wilson have now made Premier League appearances in addition to last season's breakout academy star Adnan Januzaj. There is still plenty of talent in the youth system, and Van Gaal will give it every chance to flourish. Defender Tom Thorpe is another U-21 who has shown promise, and don't be shocked to see him make his debut before too long.
5. Wayne Rooney should fear Juan Mata
While it was not the Spaniard's best performance today, he put in a very solid, self-assured performance while assisting for Di Maria's goal. Rooney has done more harm than good when playing this season, and today Mata did far more good. If the former Chelsea playmaker manages to improve on today's performance, Rooney may find his place in the team in jeopardy, irrespective of the previous comments Van Gaal has made.