In one of the most important games ever in the history of the Premier League, Manchester United traveled to the Etihad Stadium to take on Manchester City with the Premier League title up for grabs.
With the Blue half of Manchester coming out on top with a 1-0 win – courtesy of a first half headed goal by skipper Vincent Kompany – here was a shift in power in the race for the title. Aside from the obvious result, Into The Top Corner has a look at the 5 things we learned from the Manchester Derby.
1. United Went For A Draw
Manchester United started the game with a defensive formation and looked as if they were happy taking just a point back home. United started with five in midfield with the likes of Park and Giggs in the team. With the formation, United didn’t seem to want the game at all and rarely went forward with any real intent to take on the City defence. Wayne Rooney, who led the line, was cut a forlorn figure up front and United rarely threatened the City goal with just three attempts. Sir Alex Ferguson will surely be ruining the dropped points against Everton at Old Trafford after this game.
2. City Deserved The Win
It goes without saying that City were far more better side on the occasion and completely deserved their win. After their early nerves had settled, City completely dominated the game and United were unable to make anything of the ball when they had the possession. The likes of Aguero, Nasri and Yaya Toure looked threatening against a United defence, who were happy to contain them. For all their possession they eventually made it count, when Kompany headed his side ahead just before half time with a strong header which ultimately provided his team with a crucial 3 points that could well decide the title race.
3. Komapny Led By Example
Whenever a big game like this comes, you look to your captain for inspiration, leadership and guidance. Patrice Evra was disappointing for United. His usual overlapping runs down the left-wing were restricted by some excellent work by Samir Nasri and Pablo Zabaleta. Evra showed his impatience by overstretching for tackles and committing some needless fouls in his own half.
Vincent Kompany, on the other hand, will be a player who will take all the headlines. The Belgium international rose above Chris Smalling just before half time to score the winner from a David Silva corner that made his team the favourites to win the title this season.
4. City’s Midfield the Difference
City started with their inform midfield of David Silva, Yaya Toure, Gareth Barry and Samir Nasri, while United went with a five-man midfield containing the likes of Nani, Ryan Giggs, Paul Scholes, Michael Carrick and Park Ji-Sung.
It took some time for City to settle in the game but once they did their midfield started dominating the game. Samir Nasri especially was very impressive on the night by combining perfectly at times with his other midfielders and the forwards. The former Arsenal man played most of the game out on the right but no way did he drift out of the game. Despite blowing a sure-short opportunity to seal the game off during the closing stages, Nasri could be pleased with his performance.
On the other hand, United’s midfield was very poor. They gave away possession quite cheaply. Park Ji-Sung and Nani were both ineffectively and were easily defended against by the City defence. It was a huge gamble to pick Park ahead of Antonio Valencia and Ashley Young and it backfired. Park was the by far the worst player on the pitch. He struggled to get a foothold in the match, seemingly pass the ball on as quickly as possible as soon as it got to him and almost looking lost, despite his efforts. But at the same time, to make the Korean a scapegoat for the defeat would be completely unjust, given that the whole team performance was well below United’s standards.
5. Title Race Is Still Not Over
Both the teams are leveled on points and City lead on goal difference but both teams have two matches remaining and six points to plat for, so to say that title has been decided would be a bit premature.
Look at the remaining fixture, City have toughest as they face Champions league chasing and inform Newcastle United away at the Sports Direct Arena, and a Queens Park Rangers side at home, who are fighting to stay in the Premier League, so no result is assured. On the other hand, United play Swansea City at Old Trafford next followed by Sunderland away on the final day of the season. Two teams who have nothing to play for anymore this season as they both are well placed in the mid table.
The win for City over their city rivals United certainly makes them the favourites and puts them in the driving seat. But only two wins in their remaining two games will guarantee them a first League title in years.