Manchester United needed the perfect game to beat Manchester City, a side who have been nothing short of relentless in their pursuit of yet another league title. The two clashed on Sunday night and Ole had a quiet confidence heading into the game perhaps knowing his side are very capable of beating their nosy neighbors as recent history would suggest.
John Stones was rotated back into the side at Aymeric Laporte’s expense from the side that beat Wolves 4-1 on Tuesday. Zinchenko was recalled as well. Dean Henderson started in goal for Manchester United after first-choice stopper David de Gea returned to Spain for the birth of his first child. However it was the opposing keeper who was called into action first, within two minutes in fact.
With only 35 seconds having surpassed, Martial went down in the box having run into a thicket of players in the penalty area & Gabriel Jesus was judged to have made contact with him after being overzealous. Fernandes went low to his left, Ederson went the right way and even got a hand to it, but couldn’t do enough to deny him.
Fun fact: Man Utd have scored two goals in their games against the Big Six this season. Both from penalties. Both in the 2nd minute. Another telling goal for Bruno Fernandes, their new talisman who has been said to not show up in the big games.
For their second, in the second half they got out of the blocks quick once again with Shaw driving forward from another counter and playing a quick one two with Rashford, to drive a low finish through the legs of City players leaving Ederson helpless. A bit of luck involved, but United were no doubt full value for their lead.
Uncharacteristically City looked short of ideas upfront and tired, perhaps suffering their first bit of fatigue being displayed after 21 games. Sterling and Mahrez often were nullified and on occasions when they broke in, City couldn’t capitalize. Manchester United were set up well with Mctominay and Fred doing an absolutely brilliant job to nullify the space for their midfield – with the key being stopping City’s two best players this season. De bruyne and Gündoğan often probed but United remained steadfast, Rodri having come the closest hitting the bar and almost equalizing just after the break.
As I’ve said in previous articles, Manchester United needed to go back to what they do best and that’s exactly what they have done. They were more direct, focused on their strengths & had to sacrifice when they didn’t have the ball, in a way they’re not used to against the smaller clubs. They needed to defend well so they could attack the spaces that appeared – & against a team who sit back and don’t try to win the game, United tend to struggle. With City’s approach, it’s no surprise it played into United’s hands.
Having gone 19 premier league games unbeaten, now they’ll begin from zero against the Saints next week. The reds will win the battle, the blues will win the war. Even still, this result will really matter in these parts. To do what United have done needs extreme execution as well and each individual made a significant contribution in terms of quality and tactical awareness tonight.
Tonight City were human & felt what has hit most teams, a dip. If City do in fact go on to win all four, United can at least say they took four points off of a team who dominated all in their wake, with Ole seemingly having Peps number. The reds barged in on the blues procession & for tonight at-least-
Manchester is red.
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