Gary Lim: De Gea comes of age for Man United
MAN UTD 3
(Wayne Rooney 12, Juan Mata 40, Robin van Persie 71)
Filling Edwin van der Sar's boots is always going to be a tough ask.
Emulating the success of Peter Schmeichel is almost mission impossible.
But, following a troubled start to his Manchester United career, David de Gea has now endeared himself to the Old Trafford faithful.
The Red Devils were slightly superior to Liverpool in all departments during their 3-0 win last Sunday, but it is between the posts where the contrast in fortunes was magnified.
Brendan Rodgers dropped the inconsistent Simon Mignolet for second-choice goalkeeper Brad Jones in a desperate attempt to inject some confidence into his porous defence.
With his eight top-drawer saves, de Gea simply put up a performance so superb that no other custodian in England comes even close.
Before the game, The New Paper's football analyst Dietmar Hamann lauded the Spaniard as the best goalkeeper in the Premiership by a country mile.
In front of 75,331 spectators at the Theatre of Dreams, de Gea showed just what Liverpool are missing this season.
Man United were not quite as dominant as the scoreline suggested.
The biggest difference was that the Red Devils could count on the 24-year-old former Atletico Madrid man to mask their defensive deficiencies.
At the final whistle, Raheem Sterling slumped to the ground, with his shirt pulled over his head.
You can almost visualise the what- ifs running through the Liverpool forward's head.
Thrice, Sterling faced de Gea one-on-one. Each time, he was foiled by the Spaniard's brilliance.
Substitute Mario Balotelli is left still looking for his first Premiership goal for Liverpool when on another day, against another goalkeeper, he could have notched a hat-trick.
Shot-stopping ability is often over-rated.
It is when a goalkeeper combines that with instinct, a quality that no amount of work on the training ground can hone, that the wheat is separated from the chaff.
De Gea had Sterling in his pocket and Balotelli on a leash.
He exuded confidence that was infectious. He oozed aura that acted like a protective shield covering his penalty box.
Liverpool, on a day like this, had better chance of getting through a brick wall.
It is no coincidence that de Gea is named Manchester United's Player of the Month twice in a row.
And it won't be long before he confirms his place as the Spanish national team's undisputed No. 1.
Juan Mata said of his compatriot: "It's tough to find anyone better than him, he's been in top form since the beginning of the season and has saved a lot of points for us.
"Today, in a massive game, luckily he did that again."
Not for the first time this season, de Gea has proven to be the difference.
At the rate he's going, he won't be out of place in the long list of world-class goalkeepers who have worn the famous red jersey.