Pep Guardiola won his first Manchester derby against José Mourinho at Old Trafford, in what was one of the best displays City have produced in the past five seasons.
In the first half, City were playing what could only described as liquid football, moving the ball around with ease, creating space and scoring two goals. It was almost like a training exercise for City, with United’s big names Pogba, Mkhitaryan and Rooney not able to get on the ball with Nicolás Otamendi and John Stones dominating Ibrahimović all game, both on the ground and in the air. Otamendi arguably had his best game for the Citizens.
Pogba didn’t give any real glimpses of quality with the exception of two or three breaks through the midfield, the Frenchman was kept quiet by a mixture of David Silva, Fernandinho and Fernando. Arguably, Pogba is playing too deep to maximise his ability, which he has in abundance. However, when he was moved forward be was still just as ineffective, mostly down to a fantastic performance from Fernandinho.
Paul Pogba was bossed by the City midfield all match.
Claudio Bravo was undoubtedly at fault for United’s goal, gifting Ibrahimovic a chance which the Swede took in excellent fashion. However, what was clear to see was that he brought a new dimension to City. Apart from one incident where the Chilean was tackled by Rooney, he was playing as a ‘sweeper keeper’ and allowed to City to play out from the back. This is where the first goal for City came from. Bravo played the ball to Kolarov who made a brilliant pass to Iheanacho who easily beat Eric Bailly in the air and Kevin De Bruyne swept past Daley Blind and slotted the ball in the net.
In the second half, there were shouts for Bravo to be sent off, however, it is clear to see that Bravo, although his studs were showing, had one foot on the ground and clearly won the ball, prompting Mark Clattenburg to wave away protests. Wayne Rooney, however, could have been sent off. The England captain could have been booked for accumulating several fouls making more fouls than he had shots, yet only received 1 yellow card near the end of the game. The same could also be said for Fernandinho who could have been sent off for accumulating too many fouls.
Ibrahimović struggled against Otamendi and Stones.
Zlatan Ibrahimović wasn’t at his best and was for the vast majority of the game bossed by Stones and Otamendi, but showed excellent technique to guide the ball in from Claudio Bravo’s error. Moments afterwards he could have had another, Bravo was again out of goal, the ball fell to Ibrahimović, who could have hammered the ball into the net but instead his effort was more of a pass to John Stones who was able to play the ball away from goal. The Swede also had two chances in the second half which he blasted high and wide under pressure from Stones and Otamendi, who both dominated him most of the time in the air. The first big test in English football for Zlatan ended in a goal, but overall he was marked out of the game.
David Silva controlled the game from start to finish for City.
David Silva was at his brilliant best once again controlling the game in the middle of the park, dominating the United duo of Pogba and Fellaini aswell as Herrera when he came on. He was calm and composed under pressure as always spreading the ball across the pitch and creating space for De Bruyne to exploit. De Bruyne was the difference however, scoring the opening goal from Kelechi Iheanacho’s flick on, he was then also was credited the assist for Iheanacho by brilliantly cutting in and hitting the woodwork leaving De Gea rooted to the spot and giving the young Nigerian a simple tap in.
Kelechi Iheanacho scored what proved to be the winner for City.
In the second half, United started off stronger after City completely dominated the first half, but they only had one tactic which was the long ball into Fellaini, Pogba and Ibrahimović. United are superior in the air to City due to their height but failed to take any advantage of it with John Stones, Aleksandar Kolarov and Nicolas Otamendi, in particular, defending emphatically in the second half. Marcus Rashford came on at half-time and struck the net, however his shot deflected off Ibrahimovic who was clearly offside and the goal was rightfully disallowed. City also had chances to repeat the famous 6-1 scoreline in 2011 with Nicolas Otamendi and Fernandinho having efforts saved from David De Gea, and De Bruyne coming tantalisingly close by hitting the post from a Leroy Sané through ball. It must be said City outplayed United without Sergio Agüero, Vincent Kompany and Ilkay Gündoğan and when they are back to full fitness City are likely to only get better
City players celebrate together.
Overall the result was nothing more than Guardiola’s City deserved, a fantastic overall performance. But for Mourinho and Manchester United, there is work to be done.
This article was written by Ben Tipper. Twitter – @bentippermcfc