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Manchester United 2-0 Manchester City: 3 talking points from a huge victory for the Red Devils | Premier League 2019-20

  • Manchester United picked up a huge win over local rivals Manchester City today; here are 3 talking points from this entertaining derby.
Scott Newman
SENIOR ANALYST
Feature
Modified 09 Mar 2020, 00:27 IST

Manchester United picked up a huge win over bitter rivals Manchester City today
Manchester United picked up a huge win over bitter rivals Manchester City today

In a hotly contested Manchester derby at Old Trafford this afternoon, it was Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s Red Devils who came out on top, defeating Pep Guardiola’s City 2-0 despite being dominated in terms of possession throughout the game. United – who always looked dangerous on the break with Bruno Fernandes, Daniel James and Anthony Martial in particular full of menace – found their breakthrough during the first half when a beautifully lofted free-kick from Fernandes caught City’s defence off guard, allowing Martial to dart in and volley past Ederson.

The second half saw Guardiola’s men push hard for an equaliser, but try as they might it wouldn’t come – and United’s victory was cemented during the dying moments of added time, as another break led to a major error from Ederson, who rolled the ball directly to Scott McTominay who hit the ball into the empty net from distance.

Here are 3 talking points from a dramatic game in Manchester.


#1 Ederson’s errors hand the points to United

City goalkeeper Ederson had a stinker today - and cost his side the points
City goalkeeper Ederson had a stinker today - and cost his side the points

Despite taking 12 shots on goal – with 6 of them hitting the target – Manchester United’s attacking play wasn’t the main reason for them taking all three points this afternoon; instead, it was a rare off-day for City’s Brazilian goalkeeper Ederson that allowed the Red Devils to claim a huge victory.

City fans will likely blame the referee for the first goal that they conceded; a debatable free-kick was awarded to United which allowed Bruno Fernandes to loft a wonderful ball to Anthony Martial, but realistically, Ederson should’ve saved the Frenchman’s somewhat scuffed volley. Instead though, the ball skidded underneath the Brazilian and into the net.

The second half meanwhile saw the keeper’s much-lauded skills with the ball at his feet go entirely wrong – he let a back-pass slip under his foot and almost gifted Martial a second goal – and when his botched throw-out allowed McTominay to fire United’s second goal home, it summed up a bad day at the office for the Brazilian.

Ederson is still one of the Premier League’s best goalkeepers – one bad game doesn’t make a bad keeper – but this diabolical performance cost City the game and showed that sometimes, it’s old-fashioned goalkeeping skills like throw-outs and saves that make a keeper, not passing skills.

#2 City’s attempts to subject United to death by passing fail

City
City's attackers couldn't get past United's 'red wall' of defence despite dominating possession
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The 2017-18 season – when Pep Guardiola’s all-conquering Manchester City team looked impossible to defeat and were christened as the greatest team in the history of the Premier League by some – suddenly feels like a lot longer than two years ago. In recent games – even in some of their wins, like their Carabao Cup victory over Aston Villa last week – City appear to be lacking a cutting edge.

It’s tricky to understand quite what’s happened, as Guardiola can still call upon the services of some truly incredible attacking talent, from Sergio Aguero and Raheem Sterling to Riyad Mahrez and Bernardo Silva, and yet today was more like watching Arsenal at their worst under Arsene Wenger.

City dominated possession – they enjoyed 72% of the ball compared to just 28% for United – and yet Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s team had 12 shots, 5 more than City, and also hit more on target too. For all of their dominance, it felt like City were trying to pass the ball into the net, and against a side willing to defend as doggedly as United were today, that’s never a good idea.

Whether this is symbolic of a wider trend, or whether it’s just a bad patch for City is unknown; it could well be that the pressure of the Manchester derby got to Guardiola’s players in the same way that the pressure of last week’s cup final did, but that’d be odd for such an experienced team. More likely is that the Spanish boss needs to tweak his system somewhat – after all, every great style gets old at some point. Perhaps now is that time for City.

#3 United display their Champions League credentials

Is Ole Gunnar Solskjaer going to lead United back into the Champions League?
Is Ole Gunnar Solskjaer going to lead United back into the Champions League?

A crisis never seems to be too far away from Manchester United under Ole Gunnar Solskjaer – the Norwegian seems to be under pressure literally every time his side slip up, as they’ve done on numerous occasions against some of the Premier League’s weaker sides during the 2019-20 campaign. However, it’s arguable that the pressure on Solskjaer is an invention of the British press, who are always dying for a headline, and suddenly, it looks like things might be clicking for the Red Devils.

This season alone has not only seen them take two wins over their city rivals, but they’ve also beaten Chelsea twice, remain one of only two sides to take points from Liverpool, and have also defeated Jose Mourinho’s Tottenham. And since January’s arrival of Bruno Fernandes – the long-awaited creative playmaker – United are unbeaten in 5 games.

Today saw them dominated in terms of possession, but to be quite frank, the Red Devils definitely deserved their win; a lot of City’s possession was sterile, and the likes of Aaron Wan-Bissaka and Harry Maguire defended masterfully while the likes of Fernandes and Daniel James always looked dangerous on the break.

Could Solskjaer lead the Red Devils to Champions League qualification – something that honestly felt impossible back in October, when a loss to Newcastle meant they had just 2 wins in their first 8 games? It’s definitely possible. Today’s win has moved them into 5th, just 3 points behind Chelsea in 4th place and 5 behind Leicester in 3rd.

It won’t be easy; similar things were written about Tottenham following their win over City a month ago, and since then Mourinho’s side have slipped greatly, but if United can overcome Spurs next weekend then they’d have a lot of momentum behind them – and would be tough to stop going forward.

Published 09 Mar 2020, 00:27 IST
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