Our first ever article was on the Manchester derby, back in October. Now today’s Manchester Derby will be our 40th article! We would like to thank everyone who has been a part of making the blog a success, past and present writers and also guest writers. If you would like to write for us, email us at email@example.com . You can also follow us on Twitter and like our Facebook page- just type in ‘The United Devils’.
The Manchester rivalry is on a global scale that few rivalries can compare to. In the past few years, with the dominance and success of the sky blue of Manchester, United against Man City has always proved to be a spectacular fixture. Both Manchester teams have underperformed in the league this season- with Man City chasing the Premier League title but they are currently in 4th place with 51 points are 29 games- 12 points off leaders Leicester City. On the other hand, United’s season will be deemed satisfactory if we can achieve a top-four finish but we are in 6th place after 29 games with 47 points. The team’s face each other at the Etihad stadium and a win today is crucial for both team’s respective campaigns- anything less than 3 points for the two Manchester clubs will simply not be good enough.
To start with, United bowed out of the Europa League this week after a 1-1 draw at Old Trafford on Thursday night but lost overall 3-1 on aggregate. The game highlighted distinct weaknesses within our team and certainly put the pressure back onto Louis Van Gaal and his army. To make matters worse, the media have been relentless with their speculation of whether LVG will last another season or if either Ryan Giggs or Jose Mourinho will replace LVG at the end of the season. Phil McNulty described United as ‘lacking direction under LVG’ and this has to be taken into consideration. Under LVG, there has been no clear style of play and so far the LVG era has failed to stamp any authority on this underachieving and underperforming United. The Europa League was our best and most realistic chance of playing Champions League football next season. Now that we are out, all attention must be focused on finishing as high as possible in the league.
Our season has not been all doom and gloom. The incredible injury list that has plagued and disrupted our team cannot be blamed on LVG. Moreover, under him, we have seen the emergence of our youth such as Marcus Rashford and Jesse Lingard to name a few. We are in sixth place in a season which has been thoroughly competitive but that is no excuse for not being higher in the table.
In our last Premier League game we lost to West Brom 1-0. We had numerous chances to get back into the game but failed to convert any of our chances into goals. Against Man City, we need to be ruthless and start the game brightly by attacking and pressing them high. On a better note, we have been getting players back from injury such as Fellaini, Valencia and Schweinsteiger. Our captain, Wayne Rooney, has also given us some positive news that he’ll be fit to play in several weeks’ time.
The first fixture against Man City finished 0-0 back in October. It was a cagey affair but both teams will be more determined to win all 3 points as the stakes are higher in the ‘crunch time part of the season’. LVG will look to field his strongest side possible which is likely to consist of: Defence- De Gea, Varela, Smalling, Blind and Rojo. In Midfield- Carrick, Mata, Lingard and Depay. Upfront- Martial and Rashford. As a formation, a 4-1-3-1-1 could be used with Martial most likely playing behind Rashford. Our team has an abundance of pace and will cause City some threats.
Man City cannot be overlooked as their squad is full of talent. Their midfield consists of Yaya Toure, Silva, Fernando, Fernandinho, Navas and Sterling. In attack they can play either Aguero, Bony or Iheanacho- all of whom can score plenty of goals. Their starting team will be hard to break down but there is enough quality within the United side to do so. Pellegrini has been under some pressure since Man City has slipped up in recent weeks. On the other hand, City will be without two of their best players, captain Vincent Kompany and attacking midfielder Kevin De Bruyne. Without Kompany, City are far less solid defensively so the united attack will need to exploit their weaknesses. Score predictions? Make sure you tweet us your score predictions for the game today. We think that it will be a 2-2 draw but hopefully United can get a victory and a much needed 3 points! #GGMU
First Half Analysis:
The first 45 minutes of the Manchester derby was a tense and close fought affair. In the early stages of the game, Man City were on top as they pressed hard and made the United defence work. In particular, Sterling and Aguero were on the ball creating chances.
Aguero and Yaya Toure tested De Gea several times which led to our wonderful keeper making some excellent saves. Smalling showed his defensive and leadership abilities at the back, keeping the defence tight and organised but was booked after 10 minutes for a foul on Aguero.
United score a brilliant goal after 16 minutes from our-man-of-the-moment, 18 year-old Marcus Rashford. Mata played a delightful through ball into Rashford, who then turned Demichelis who simply had an awful 45 minutes and put the ball past Joe Hart at the far corner. The United corner in the Etihad stadium erupted with joy and LVG’s decision to start Rashford looked to had paid dividends. LVG had received some criticism before the game from Liverpool pundit Jamie Carragher for starting Rashford yet again, but the boy from our academy proved that age is nothing but a number.
Man City continued to press hard and respond to the United goal which left the stadium silent but were dealt with another blow after 26 minutes when winger Raheem Sterling was forced off the pitch due to an injury. He was replaced with defensively-minded midfielder Fernando.
United were determined to see out the half on top and were unfortunate not to receive a penalty after Rashford went past Demichelis in the box who then clipped Rashford’s thigh. The Man City defender appeared to be angry with the youngster for appearing to dive but it was clear that Demichelis made contact with Rashford but more importantly made no contact with the ball.
The first half finished with United leading at the break, 1-0, courtesy of a Marcus Rashford goal- his fifth in all competitions.
Second Half Analysis:
The second half got off to a better start than most of our second halves have in previous games although it didn’t start as well as the first half. We kept possession well and were able to put pressure on the Man City backline effectively. The City boss panicked and threw another attacking force by the name of Wilfred Bony furthermore weakening the already shaky City defence after the losses of Kompany and Demichelis.
The attacking duo of Martial and Rashford managed to cause many issues for the weakened defence and although the statistics would shows that Manchester City had the most shots with 22 it was clear that they were not able to capitalise on their efforts on goal. It seemed as if the Manchester City firepower was lacking the spark that they have shown in previous matches to kill off rivals and this was spotted by Manchester United who exploited this flaw and ultimately led to City’s demise.
Individual Player Performances:
Goalkeeper and Defence:
Wouldn’t have lost his place in the starting eleven after his mistake against Liverpool, didn’t have to do too much today and enjoyed a quite game.
A good find because of his versatility to play either left back to right back shown today when Rojo was subbed off. Unfortunately limped off towards the end hopefully it isn’t anything serious.
Chosen as the man of the match and rightly so. Kept Aguero quiet today and made sure he didn’t have any space. Picked up a booking early on and played sensibly.
He was solid defensively and made limited mistakes. Hopefully he can carry this sort of form until the end of the season.
Was very good defensively and played well when he linked up with Martial well and also provided some great crosses into the box.
Looked shaky and not like his former self. Looked as if he could give the ball away at any moment from a little bit of pressure from the city players.
He’s is to us what Cazorla is to Arsenal. He is the clog that makes everything tick. Made some important tackles and important balls going forward.
Obviously doesn’t excel when he plays on the right and that was shown today. However initially good run from him and then a pass to Marcus Rashford created the only goal of the match.
Another great game from him. One of the few players that actually run at defenders. Very skilful and effective.
Only player in my opinion to play with passion. He’s been given Mata’s original role and freedom and he is utilising it well.
He’s learning from martial and attacking at the defenders. Very unlucky to not have a penalty go his way. He embarrassed Demichiles with his speed and agility and a great finish to put the ball passed Hart.
The pressure was on following the Europa League exit on Thursday as the final chance to get Champions League football for next season was this game. Defeat would have opened up a 7 point gap between United and City would have seemingly ended the Old Trafford clubs top 4 chances.
It was a strange game at the Ethiad with a strange atmosphere. It didn’t feel like a derby game with the City fans silent for most of the game. The atmosphere played into United’s hands with Louis van Gaal deploying a counter attacking system utilising the pace of Lingard, Rashford and Martial. In the opening exchanges it was United who had the better chances with the pace in the forward positions causing City all kinds of problems. United capitalised on their positive play with Marcus Rashford sprinting past Martin Demechelis at ease leaving the City defender flat on the floor and coolly slotting past Joe Hart.
For the remainder of the game United really had to dig in and it superbly with an outstanding defensive performance especially from Chris Smalling and Daley Blind who kept Sergio Aguero quiet for most of the game. Morgan Schneiderlin proved to be an excellent shield in front of the back 4 once again proving he should be a guaranteed starter in the United team. It was a game in which United were always going to have to sacrifice the possession to win this game. Louis van Gaal has a habit of winning the big games and regardless of their opinions on the Dutchman United fans will be delighted that it continued.
It was a must win game for United to remain in the race for the top 4. This is the kind of result that can spur a team into a late charge. This result gives United momentum to make a charge to finish above City in the top 4 and with City crumbling and not offering up anything special since the news about Pep Guardiola. Could it be that the mighty Pep Guardiola finds himself in the Europa League next season thanks to a late United charge to the top 4.