The English Premier League is called the most competitive, enthralling and enticing league in the world by football fanatics. Once again it lived up to its epithet by presenting a beautiful action-packed rainy afternoon at Old Trafford. A near full capacity Old Trafford watched their next-door rivals smacking down their favorite team and offering little opportunity for the home side to entertain its fans. Such has been the disappointment at United fans today that almost half the fans started leaving the place before full time. Manchester City capped off a wonderful win against their city rivals and closed the gap to three points from the tabletop.
Manchester United meanwhile remains languishing at fifth in the table, with their nearest rivals all having a game in hand. It was a really disastrous display from Solskjaer’s men who failed to provide little resistance against City. Nonetheless, two individual errors from Bailly and Shaw did cost United the game. David De Gea was really sensational and saved certain four-five times goal-bound shots. Otherwise, the scorecard would have given United more humiliation. Now, after, this loss it remains to be seen whether Solskjaer has managed his final game as United boss or will the board still back him after such shameful performances on the trot.
Keeping aside these facts, we take a quick look at the happenings of the game and a thorough analysis of it.
Formation : 3-4-1-2
De Gea; Bailly (Sancho,45’), Lindelof, Maguire; Wan-Bisakka, Fred (Van De Beek, 79’), Mctominay, Shaw (Telles, 73’); Bruno Fernandes; Ronaldo, Greenwood (Rashford, 63’)
Ederson; Walker, Stones, Dias, Cancelo; De Bruyne, Rodri, Gundogan; Jesus, Bernardo Silva, Foden
The drama unfolded at the Theatre of Dreams on 12:30 GMT or 18:00 IST with large scores of home fans hoping to see a rejuvenated United giving the supporters some moments to cheer for. But what followed next for ninety minutes after the kickoff would be a day that every United fan would like to forget. Right after the start, the United was resisting the waves of attack being brought by Manchester City one after the other. Pep used a false nine in the form of Bernardo Silva in the match.
All of a sudden Walker’s cross was missed by Gundogan and the second ball fell to Cancelo. The Portuguese played it to Foden, who sent a low cross into the box. It wasn’t any kind of dangerous cross but Bailly deflected it towards his own goal in the process of clearing it. Revitalized by the goal, Manchester City started to show some serious domination and didn’t let United play in the opening 25-mins. A few minutes after, Bailly dribbled his way past many city players and released Wan-Bisakka on the right. Shaw’s cross from Bruno’s ball was excellently shot by Ronaldo only for Ederson to pull off a blinder. The ball fell right in the path of Greenwood who missed an open goal chance. It was the only real chance for United in the whole game.
De Gea had to pull off a string of mind-blowing saves to keep the scoreboard the same. Jesus, Cancelo(twice), De Bruyne all were denied by the custodian. His all hard work was put down when the wrong anticipation of Cancelo’s cross from the left resulted in a goal. Shaw left Silva unmarked and the latter put in a diving effort to put that in goal.
The first half was a complete Manchester City show. Bernardo Silva and Gundogan swapped the false-nine roles quite efficiently. Foden lighted up the left-wing as were De Bruyne and Jesus from the right flank. Cancelo and Walker acted as inverted full-backs and brought half of the city’s attacks. Ole did choose a three-back system and wing backs to counter City’s threat but it failed miserably. Ole had no answer for Guardiola’s floating midfielders and attackers. Rodri also controlled the midfield effectively. The first half ended miserably for Manchester United.
In the second half, United was able to put some resistance somehow. Solskjaer brought in Sancho for Bailly and changed to a 4-2-3-1 system. With this United was able to blunt City’s wing play and at least kept the control of midfield for some minutes. The Red-Devils attacked to some extent but none of it could possess the threat needed to trouble City’s compact defense. It was a snoozefest going on for some part until again De Bruyne and Foden brought life into it. They troubled the whole of United’s defense with their dangerous runs and kept them on the back foot again.
Nonetheless, it was the story of the full game seeing the home side sitting back and defending. And Manchester City relentlessly bringing up one attack after the other and leaving De Gea with no moment to rest. Bruno Fernandes was tactically blunted by Pep as he instructed his team to create a labyrinth of players. Ronaldo was also kept off as he fell into a trap of fantastic man-marking by Dias and Stones. Stones missed a shot from close range in the dying minutes and failed to make it 3 nil for Citizens. The match ended in 2-0 nil Manchester City win.
The match was quite entertaining and it provided us with every element of enticement that a derby should provide. It was a bit one-sided though as Manchester City dominated for most parts of the match. With this loss, it is becoming seemingly difficult for Red devils to remain in the title contention. If Chelsea manages to win today, there would be an 11-point between Chelsea and United. The Citizens leapfrogged Liverpool with this win to go second and catch up with the table-toppers. Keeping the result aside, there was no short of excitement at the theatre of dreams and it produced a fascinating and bewitching show for the viewers.
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