David de Gea believes Manchester United’s new-found defensive steel will be strong enough to put a dent in Manchester City’s title challenge in next week’s derby.
City visit Old Trafford in nine days’ time (January 14) just over three months since rattling six past them at the Etihad in the season’s first fight for bragging rights.
But after a fourth clean sheet in a row against Bournemouth and no league goals conceded at home since October, De Gea waved a red rag at the City bull and challenged them to charge. Asked about defending a clean sheet record in the league stretching back four months against Erling Haaland and co, De Gea said he was optimistic.
“That’s how it should be to come here – it should be a tough place for the teams. Let’s see in the future. We are playing really well, we have to keep the momentum as much as we can,” he said.
“Everyone is ready, everyone is focused, everyone is training really well. Everyone is in the same direction, so this is massive.”
Next week’s game will be the 23rd derby appearance for De Gea – his first coming back in October 2011 in a match that also saw him ship six goals in a 6-1 defeat.
But the Spanish goalkeeper, 32, who confirmed he was confident of shaking hands on a new deal which could see him finish his career at Old Trafford, believes the transformative effect of Ten Hag since October will not see a repeat of either result.
“The manager is doing well. I say before, he puts every player in the same direction and we feel like a proper team,” he said. “Everyone wants to win, everyone wants to play for this club and that’s massive.
“He brought a great spirit to the team, we are playing really well and this is the way we have to show and keep the momentum as well. It doesn’t matter who is playing.
“Even the subs today, it doesn’t matter who came in, they put everything on the pitch, we have great team spirit and for me it’s great to see the players play in this way.” De Gea said talks on his own future look likely to “end in a good way” with him staying for the rest of his career.
“I hope so. I was saying this is my club,” he said. “I’ve been here many, many years and it’s a huge honour to be here and I’m so happy here.”