Manchester derby confirmed what was clear to everyone; City is miles ahead of United. Not even Pogba could turn this one around.
Across Europe a lot of mouth-watering clashes were played and the Manchester derby was the big match in Premier League this weekend. And everybody who expected a tight affair was left disappointed.
City produced a dominant display that didn’t allow the Reds any chance. True, United missed their best player in Pogba who fort-fitted just before the kick off. However city missed their best midfielder also in De Bruyne. So we could call important absences even!
Interestingly Mourinho and Guardiola didn’t fire poisonous dart at each other in the build up. As things stand right now that’s the only duel the Portuguese manager has a chance of winning.
The scenario was clear from the beginning; the blues to keep the ball and attack in numbers and the reds to wait for mistakes and hit on the counter. It’s a familiar sight in the Manchester derby the last few years.
It was also clear that United’s midfield with Matić, Herrera and Fellaini can’t provide sufficient support to the attackers thru patient build-up play and defence-splitting balls. For that Mata would have to be involved. This midfield was composed to close the spaces and run the extra mile.
It looked as if Mourinho ordered man-marking of City’s central trio. Fellaini stepped up to mirror Fernandinho, Herrera tried to shadow David Silva and Matić was supposed to follow Bernardo Silva.
And it worked for United at the start. Well, at least for the first 10 minutes! Citizen’s play is way too dynamic and flexible to be limited with this kind of approach.
Early lead secured by David Silva who pounced on a loose ball in the heart of the penalty area was a just reward for shown till then. United barely had a kick and was already trailing.
Even before the goal the hosts, City in this case, had a few situations that could lead to their advantage.
Midway thru the first half Smalling had a header fly over the crossbar of a bored Ederson. And that “chance” was everything Mourinho’s troops managed in the first half.
United’s tactic to exploit opponents mistakes back-fired immediately after the break.
De Gea’s, Reds’s best player by far the last few seasons, miss-kick was picked up in the center of the park by City. Quick transition and a scholastic one-two on the edge of the area freed Aguero in a shooting chance inside the box.
The Argentine usually takes these kind of chances and he did it this time also. Thunderous shot above the keeper’s head; 2:0 and game virtually closed.
Manchester United’s 2nd half come-back, kind off…
Soon after Aguero’s goal Lukaku came on for an uninspired Lingard and immediately made an impact.
The Belgian striker went for a rare vertical pass in City’s penalty area. The situation wasn’t of any danger to the Brazilian shot-stopper in City’s goal as Lukaku’s movement was away from the goal.
Anyway, Ederson decided to go for it and duly came late, brought down the robust attacker and a penalty was given. Martial routinely converted from the spot, 2:1 and contest re-opened. It happened in the 58th minute and everything still to play for.
In theory, at least.
Mourinho’s game-plan worked in this occasion! They bored the opposition’s goalkeeper until he decided to go for an innocuous ball just to get some action. And made the mistake the Reds carved for!
Man Utd had a few minutes on the front foot after reducing the gap however never really threatened to get the second. Last season’s script wasn’t to be repeated.
Sane came in for Mahrez and demonstrated why he’s regarded the present and the future of the club. His quick feet and explosiveness were too much to handle for a tired United defense. He did spurn some good situations but he came in them with ease.
After a few missed opportunities, Guendogan’s goal in 86th minute cleared any doubts. The goal itself is the best demonstration of the gulf in class between the sides.
The German finished a team move that included 44 passes (!!!) and almost the whole team participating in the maneuver!
Conclusions from the derby
City are the team to beat in England’s top flight, no argument there. Clear game-plan, several options for every position across the pitch and a ever-demanding manager.
The future looks bright and the final triumph is theirs to loose.
Manchester United’s been riding their luck and relying on for too long now. No clear game-plan, no rehearsed routines in attacking moves, little-to-none creativity in the maneuver, slow and predictable ball circulation. And a porous defense that already costed them important points.
League leaders are way ahead of them in every aspect.
If there was any talk or idea in the red side of Manchester about title challenge before the season started, they should revise their goals and set the bar lower. Much, much lower.
Only Liverpool manages to keep up with Pep’s formidable team. Klopp’s boys managed to get over the midweek shock in Belgrade and obtain a win against slumping Fulham. As usually Salah broke the dead-lock. It wasn’t easy as the score-line might suggest as teh London outfit had some good opportunities to get in front but eventually succumbed to another defeat. Perhaps unjust but ultimately no points for them. Again.
Similarly, Tottenham forced a win away at Crystal Palace. First goal for young center-back Foyth proved enough to get all 3 points and maintain title hopes.
Chelsea somehow managed not to win against fairly modest Everton. The chances were there however eventually none of them were taken and the Liverpool side went home with a big smile on their face.
Another contender to drop important points at home was Arsenal. Contrary to Chelsea, Arsenal perhaps got what they deserved as for all the possession, Wolves had more attempts on goal and on target.
Newcastle and Cardiff City snitched important wins against Bournemouth and Brighton respectively to escape from the relegation zone.
Especially important for Newcastle to build on last weekend’s win against Watford thus making it two-in-a-row.
Manchester derby was the most imbalanced match of the weekend with City displaying alarming supremacy. And since majority of other fixtures pitted top club’s against bottom one’s, it raises a lot of questions about United’s near future.