City cruised to victory at Old Trafford against a Manchester United side that was, for the most part, very poor. The win keeps City firmly in the title race and in a great position to overhaul Chelsea at the top to take a second Premier League title in three years. Here are some more detailed thoughts on the game…
As Rob Pollard asked of derby day before the game: “Does anybody actually enjoy it?”
The unique mix of nerves, animosity, expectation, and fear of losing to our cross town rivals is an unpleasant cocktail for the days beforehand. Add in that this time we were the favourites to win at Old Trafford, and that the three points would be essential to keep up the title pace, and you had City fans preparing for the worst – a classic ‘typical City’ style loss.
Luckily, the much maligned Edin Dzeko scored after 42 seconds to calm the nerves and break Manchester United almost immediately. It was a smart finish following an incredible bit of control from Silva (probably my most copy and pasted phrase) and a shot from Nasri which rebounded off the post into his path. You will rarely see a quicker goal.
Following that early goal the game settled into a pattern of blue dominance. There were a few scares and an occasional instance of determined United attacking, or, more specifically, Rooney attacking, but City never really had to get out of third gear for prolonged periods of the match. Hart stood up well to everything that was intermittently thrown at him, however, and had one of his better games this season. In fact, the whole defence had an excellent game – United did not offer the sternest challenge of the season by far, but the back four concentrated until the end and did their jobs admirably.
That is not to say that there weren’t some negatives, of course; Almost everyone was guilty of some unusually profligate passing at times. The razor sharp cutting edge that defined the first half of the season was again shown to have dulled in recent months as chances to go two, three, and even four nil up in the first half were passed over. We all thought Kompany was going to get himself sent off for the second successive match.
But, of course…
That is nothing on United who were second best all over the park.
Time and again their passes went astray, their counterattacks broke down, and their crosses went high and wide. Only Rooney showed any real desire to be playing, any inclination at all to attack in a way that wasn’t utterly lacklustre. It is not hard to imagine him looking at his failing comrades today and thinking, “Why do I even bother?”
Mata was a shadow of the player we knew and admired at Chelsea. When the going got tough, he faded badly. His trademark magic through balls and occasionally extra-natural vision was almost entirely absent.
The starting midfield duo with a brief to contain the City midfield, Fellaini and Cleverly, were both substituted in the second half which tells its own story. Moyes was forced to change the whole shape of his team because the midfield had failed totally at containing Yaya, Silva, and Fernandinho. The City front line were pressing United in the manner Moyes presumably dreamed his midfield would do, but it was not to be.
Pick a Man of the Match Out of That…
An almost impossible task. Here follow my short reviews of just some of the potential candidates:
Yaya Toure – Another masterpiece of a performance showing why he is the best central midfielder in world football. Dzeko scored in the first minute and Yaya got a deserved goal in the last; a fair reward for another dominant display.
Edin Dzeko – If his first goal broke United’s spirit, his second broke their hearts. It was a sublime finish which put the game out of reach. The sort of goal a regular human could not even contemplate, let alone score. Hassled, harried, scored goals, looked the part. MORE OF THAT PLEASE, EDIN.
David Silva – !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
(Seriously, that’s it. I have run out of words to describe the best player to wear the City shirt)
There couldn’t be a better conclusion than Moyes’ words on City after the final whistle, so let’s finish with those:
“I think we have played a very good side, it’s the sort of standard and level we need to aspire to get to at this moment in time”
Written by Alex Timperley who is on Twitter