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Talking Points: Did Manchester United's midfield cost them the match?

Written by: Waseem Zaidi

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The Cityzens have won the first derby of every season since 2016.

The Manchester derby is one of the most anticipated fixtures of every Premier League campaign. Two giants in Manchester United and Manchester City face-off to grab the bragging rights. The match that was under the lens of not only the fans of the contesting teams but also the neutrals all across, it was full of highlights and talking points. Manchester City were at their dominant best and came out 3 -1 winning in front of a packed Etihad Stadium, a rare sight on other occasions.

We, therefore, take a look back at the game and analyse the talking points that emerged.

5. United’s defensive errors made the difference

Two of Manchester City’s goals were contributed by the lacklustre defensive display by United. Failing to deal with crosses led to City scoring the opener and the third goal to kill the game. Victor Lindelof, who had been performing decently since last few weeks had a night to forget.

However, credit to the City players who were relentless going forward and caused the errors. An overall disappointing display by the United side and the difference in quality between the two sides was the defining feature of the crucial match.

4. City dominated the ball possession due to the lack of speed in United midfield

The trio of Nemanja Matic, Marouane Fellaini and Ander Herrera in the midfield were outclassed by David Silva, Bernardo Silva and Fernandinho on all fronts. The defensive-mindedness of the United players and the lack of speed on the counter and creativity in possession gave City large chunks of the ball as they controlled the proceedings.

Losing the midfield battles brought on more pressure on the defence and alienated the attackers for the Red Devils. The technical superiority and better composure on the ball shown by the City players didn’t let the opposition touch the ball for minutes on some occasions. That is where the match was won.


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3. Starting slow is now a habit for United

Out of 12 games played, the United side has conceded the opening goal in seven of them in the Premier League. Time and again United have started the game slow and are not learning from their mistakes. Similarly, City scored the opener in the first 13 minutes that set the tone for the rest of the match. Chasing games is fast becoming a worrying trend for United.

Perhaps Jose Mourinho needs to alter his approach and let the handbrake off from the first whistle itself. United are more dangerous going forward and it’s high time they start playing to their strengths, rather than covering the obvious weaknesses at the back. The Red Devils chased this game as well, but City was a mountain too steep to climb.

2. Manchester United are virtually out of the title race

The gulf between the two Manchester clubs is massive and it can best be represented by the gap of 12 points between them. The gaffer of the Red Devils has already admitted that United are out of the title race and are struggling to enter the top-four positions on the table as well.

On the other hand, Man City are unbeaten and favourites to repeat last season’s league triumph. Pep Guardiola has perfectly managed to maintain a consistent quality display despite adopting a rotation policy. The once noisy neighbours are now the superior team in Manchester and the 12-point gap in November itself is a glaring evidence of that fact.

1. Captain David Silva was the star-man for City

The midfield masterclass shown by the talismanic David Silva was enough to cripple the United defence and earned him the man of the match award. The captain led by example and opened the scoring for his team.

He was a constant threat when in possession and also tracked back when required. David Silva was a class apart and was the best player on the pitch by a huge margin. He was able to manipulate the game with ease and his technical ability, leadership quality and overall flair enabled him to orchestrate one move after another. As a result, pressure piled up on United under which they eventually trembled.

The outcome of this fixture firmly puts Manchester City back in the driving seat and their unbeaten record still holds. As for Manchester United and their manager, the rainy clouds won’t dissipate as they find themselves languishing on 8th spot on the table, seven points adrift of the top-four positions already.

Published: Mon Nov 12, 2018 07:19 PM IST

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