David de Gea error highlights how Man Utd are on their last legs! Winners and losers as West Ham defeat leaves top-four hopes in the balance

Marcus Rashford David de Gea Manchester United GFX
Erik ten Hag's side look dishevelled and in desperate need of a break after losing a second Premier League game in a row

How did Manchester United get themselves in this situation? Finishing in the top four should be the bare minimum for Erik ten Hag's side, and it looked as if they were guaranteed to do so after beating Aston Villa last week to move seven points clear of Liverpool.

But that advantage has been chopped down to just a single point after a limp 1-0 defeat at West Ham following yet another goalkeeping gaffe from David de Gea. This demoralising loss came just three days after losing 1-0 at Brighton from a 99th-minute penalty, and the main takeaway is that the Red Devils look utterly exhausted.

They have had a gruelling and exciting season, going deep in four competitions. But their exertions in the Europa League and both domestic cups are now putting at risk the most basic objective, which is to qualify for the Champions League.

Liverpool and Brighton are now serious threats to that goal, and it is going to be a nerve-shredding end to the season when United must once more lean on their excellent home form, because their results away from home are diabolical.

GOAL breaks down the winners & losers from the London Stadium...

  1. LOSER: David de Gea
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    LOSER: David de Gea

    When your goalkeeper is so weak with his feet, he needs to be outstanding in every other facet. And he cannot be letting utterly feeble shots like Said Benrahma's through his hands and into the net. This was one of De Gea's worst howlers in his 12 years with United, and they are becoming increasingly common. It was as bad as the goal he let in from Brentford's Josh Dasilva in the opening weeks of the season,and the fifth major error he has made this season.

    His lapse did not just cost United a goal, it seemed to drain all confidence from Erik ten Hag's side after they had looked the better team in the opening 25 minutes. The same thing happened after his early errors against Brentford and Sevilla.

    And his passing was poor again too, gifting the ball to Declan Rice in the first half and Jarrod Bowen in the second. But we expect that from De Gea. What we do not expect him to be beaten by slow moving daisy-cutters. The club now need to think very carefully about whether they renew his contract.

  2. WINNER: Declan Rice
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    WINNER: Declan Rice

    The England midfielder was the undisputed Man of the Match, and put five-time Champions League winner Casemiro in the shade. He was everywhere from the first minute to the 98th, be it pressing De Gea and winning the ball back in the opposing area, mopping up loose balls or driving West Ham forward.

    And for a few spells in the second half, he played like a winger, marauding down the left-hand side and dribbling past United defenders for fun, causing havoc as his side dominated proceedings and went searching for a second goal.

    The harsh truth for West Ham is that Rice is simply too good for them now and must move to a bigger club who can match his ability and ambition. It is little wonder Arsenal are targeting him and if they had any doubts about paying a big transfer fee to get him, this performance will surely have convinced them it will be worth it.

  3. LOSER: Man Utd's fitness levels
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    LOSER: Man Utd's fitness levels

    There is no escaping the truth: United look burnt out. The Red Devils have played more matches than any other side in Europe's top five leagues, this being their 57th match of the season. By the time it ends, they will have played 62 games, the consequence of reaching the FA Cup and Carabao Cup finals as well as making the quarter-finals of the Europa League.

    And it is a good thing they are no longer involved in Europe, as this coming week will be the first time since the season resumed after the World Cup that they will not have a midweek match. Boy, do they look like they need a rest!

    Bruno Fernandes has been playing through the pain of a niggling foot problem, Marcus Rashford is finally feeling the effects of his formidable season and Casemiro looks drained too. Perhaps we could even put De Gea's terrible error down to mental tiredness.

    The fact that United have played so many matches is a testament to how successful they have been this season, but they have not managed the workload well, and Ten Hag has not rotated his squad nearly as much as Pep Guardiola, Jurgen Klopp or Mikel Arteta. That is partly due to not having the deepest squad and due to to the team's bad luck with injuries to the likes of Lisandro Martinez, Raphael Varane, Scott McTominay, Alejandro Garnacho, Christian Eriksen and Donny van de Beek.

    But whatever the excuse, United ultimately head into the final stretch of the season, with their top-four hopes on the line and the FA Cup final against Manchester City to come, looking utterly dishevelled.

  4. WINNER: Liverpool and Brighton
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    WINNER: Liverpool and Brighton

    Which leads us to the possible beneficiaries of United's collapse. Liverpool and Brighton must have thought the ship of Champions League football had long sailed. But Ten Hag's side's dire recent run of results has breathed fresh life into both sides' chances of finishing in the top four.

    After losing consecutive matches to Brighton and West Ham, United are clinging to fourth spot for dear life. They are just one point ahead of a resurgent Liverpool in fifth, and although they do have a game in hand on Jurgen Klopp's side, that is no guarantee of points given their current form.

    Brighton are eight points back from United but have two games in hand on Ten Hag's side and three on Liverpool. It will be a tall order for Roberto De Zerbi's men as they must visit both Arsenal and Newcastle, and host City on the day they could clinch the Premier League title. Liverpool, by contrast, have a far easier run-in, visiting Leicester and Southampton while hosting Aston Villa.

    United's fate is still in their own hands and their outstanding home form should still see them through as they have three games at Old Trafford left, against Wolves, Chelsea and Fulham, all of whom will only be playing for pride. But who would have thought they would be in such a precarious position at this stage?


    In the end, Premier League officials must be grateful that West Ham held on to win the game. It meant that the decision not to award the Hammers a penalty for Victor Lindelof's handball will not get the scrutiny it would have merited otherwise.

    It was hugely surprising that referee Peter Bankes was not advised to review the incident on the monitor by the VAR Stuart Attwell. Although Lindelof was standing close to the ball when it struck his arm, it looked as if he had moved his hand towards it. It was not your typical accidental handball.

    West Ham, who had had a penalty denied them against Liverpool last month when the ball hit Thiago Alcantara's hand twice while he was on the floor, were understandably furious. It was the latest example of VAR getting a big call wrong this season and yet again calls into question its very existence.

  6. WINNER: David Moyes
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    WINNER: David Moyes

    Moyes' short-lived time in charge of Manchester United was a harrowing experience, so it must have been hugely satisfying to get his first win over his former club since 2012, when he was manager of Everton. The Scot has not had an enjoyable season, especially given how well West Ham did in the last two campaigns under him, but he looks set to keep them up.

    Moyes' job has looked in peril on many occasions this season and West Ham have taken their fair share of beatings. But they have been strong at the London Stadium and have beaten nearly all their rivals to avoid the drop, smashing Nottingham Forest 4-0, doing the double on Bournemouth and taking care of Everton and Wolves at home. They also came back from two goals down to draw with Arsenal and have just beaten one of the best sides in the league in United.

    They are now seven points clear of the relegation zone, and three more points in their final three games will clinch survival. They also have a European semi-final to look forward to this week against AZ Alkmaar.

    Moyes might not excite fans like other coaches do, but he is a safe pair of hands and, looking at the chaos that has engulfed other clubs that have sacked their managers, West Ham should be grateful for him.