Bragging rights now belong to Manchester United as they finally beat their derby rival, Manchester City at Old Trafford after losing there previous three home games against the Blues. Aguero opened the scoring, for only Ashley Young to reply immediately after and level the score. Soon after Maroune Fellaini put United in front. Second half goals from Juan Mata and Chris Smalling killed the game as a contest. A late Aguero consolation was not enough as City lost 4-2.
Let us look at the five things we learned from the match:
United’s midfield future is secured with Herrera
It is unthinkable to imagine how Ander Herrera was not a regular for Van Gaal up until now. United have won six games in a row and Herrera’s part in those matches had been very crucial. The Spaniard had been a regular goal scorer as well as a goal provider. He carried on from his two goal heroics against Aston Villa last week to domintae United’s midfield against City. His touches in the middle of the park was exquisite and they way he overturned his oppositions to create space for himself was really good. Also he got a well deserved assist for Young’s opener. With Herrera in the ranks, United need not have to worry about the future of their midfield. In the above heat map, the total ground covered by Herrera can be seen and how influential he was all over the pitch can be seen.
Clichy is the weak link
For sometime now the left back position was considered as the weak link with Manchester City and Sunday’s game against United showed exactly why. Clichy was at fault for both United first half goals. For Ashley Young’s opener, the French full-back did well to track Young, however he failed to block properly or clear the ball, which allowed Young to score from the rebound. The first one may be considered unlucky, but for Fellaini’s goal, he completely left the big Belgian free on the left side. He did not try to make a challenge to put – premier league’s best header – off the guard. No wonder Antonio Valencia was given the license to run at him all night long.
City’s high pressing paid off initially
Manchester City started the same way United started against Liverpool at Anfield. And, the Citizens achieved what United managed on that night by scoring the opener within the first ten minutes through Aguero. Infact City could have been unreachable if Jesus Navas had taken a golden chance when he was through on David Degea just before they scored the opener. The main reason for it was the high pressure City players inflicted on their counterpart, hence the Reds struggled to retain the ball. However, for City that pressing game soon disappeared as United eventually took control of the game to win the match comfortably. How different the night could have been if City had taken full advantage of their early momentum!
Mata the man for big occasion
When Louis Van Gaal took charge, Juan Mata did not have a starting place in the first team. He was in and out of the squad for most of the season. However, the Spaniard had always did his job when called up with goals and assists. After being in and out of the squad, he finally showed his ability with a brace at Liverpool. He carried on that form to create an assist against Villa last week and bettered it with a well taken goal against the Citizens. Not to forget that Mata also scored one against Liverpool last November. He has regularly shown that he is the man for big occasion, so no wonder Van Gaal has used him consistently in big matches.
Pellegrini’s job is under massive threat
When a team is trashed in a big derby, one often notice the winning team fans singing at the opposite manager, ‘You will be sacked in the morning.’ Trust me, this time it may very well happen. It may not happen on Monday itself, but Pellegrini is highly unlikely to be at City beyond this summer. His City team are on a miserable run of form. They have lost all their last four away matches and have lost six of the last eight games in all competition. To make it worse, in their 12 games in 2015, Pellegrini’s men have won four, drawn three and lost five. Roberto Mancini was infact sacked even after producing a better performance than this. So with Pellegrini’s side struggling to find any momentum right now, the Argentine’s place looks in jeopardy. A top three finish itself looks difficult for the Blues.
Image Courtesy: Dailymail and BBC