As Manchester derbies go, the 170th was as tense and nerve-shredding as the best of them, but unfortunately it was far from a classic encounter between the two city rivals. City looked the more likely team to score in the first half but were barely able to string two passes together after the interval, leaving most supporters reasonably satisfied with a share of the spoils and a point which puts the Blues back at the top of the Premier League on goal difference. Here’s how I rated the players on the day:
1 Joe Hart – 7/10
Didn’t have a great deal of saves to make but the one he made to deny Chris Smalling towards the end of the game was excellent and important. He’ll no doubt be pleased with his first clean sheet in seven matches.
3 Bacary Sagna – 6/10
Offered little in an attacking sense and came out second best in a couple of duels with Anthony Martial but this was still a relatively solid afternoon’s work from the Frenchman. He’s consistently reliable at the moment and you can’t ask for much more than that.
4 Vincent Kompany – 8/10
City fans breathed a collective sigh of relief when the Belgian’s name appeared on the teamsheet before the game and he quickly made us realise just what we’ve been missing in his absence. He defended superbly and decisively, was able to play the ball out calmly from the back and gave the back four a level of organisation we haven’t seen for some time. The only blot on his copy book was a needless lunge on Martial at the end of the first half which rightly resulted in a yellow card. Welcome back Vinnie, City needs you more than you will know.
30 Nicolás Otamendi – 8/10
Many supporters were surprised, if not a little disappointed, to see Otamendi named in the starting line-up ahead of Eliaquim Mangala on Sunday but thankfully the Argentine ended up having comfortably his best game in a City shirt so far. It was a display of no-nonsense defending with just the right amount of aggression, and he always seemed to be in the right place at the right time. There’s still work to be done on his ball-playing (his penchant for knocking the ball long or out of play can be frustrating) but he’s definitely getting there now.
11 Aleksandar Kolarov – 7/10
Dealt with Antonio Valencia well but is possibly still not 100% fit following his injury as his trademark forays forward were few and far between. It’s always better to have a natural left-footed player playing left-back and Gaël Clichy’s return from injury, whenever that may be, will give City another option in that department and Kolarov a well earned break.
6 Fernando – 8/10
I can’t have been the only one who felt a lot more confident about our chances of avoiding defeat at Old Trafford when I saw Fernando’s name in the starting XI. More than anything, it showed a pragmatic side to Manuel Pellegrini we rarely see and a willingness to not let his team be overrun in midfield for a change. Fernando was much maligned during his first season at City last year but he did exactly what he was put on the pitch to do in this game; kept things simple and helped break up countless United attacks. He shouldn’t play every game, of course, but he looks more and more like a player who can be relied upon to do a job when necessary.
25 Fernandinho – 7/10
Had a terrific first half (his obligatory booking notwithstanding) and pressed United high up the field, the best example being the time his picking of Juan Mata’s pocket almost resulted in a good chance for City. Seemed to fade somewhat in the second half and was as guilty as anyone of profligacy in possession. The Brazilian finished the match in a more advanced position but he looks so much more comfortable with Fernando alongside him in the centre of midfield.
42 Yaya Touré – 6/10
It’s been apparent since pretty much the day he joined City that Yaya can’t always be relied upon to put in a shift in central midfield. It was therefore reassuring to see him start this match in an attacking midfield role in which he’d be able to do all the attacking stuff he seems to enjoy without being a liability to his team defensively. Unfortunately he wasn’t really able to deliver the goods and his performance was a largely ineffectual one littered with far too many ill-advised flicks straight to an opposition player when his team could really have done with him holding onto the ball. The Ivorian hasn’t scored since the opening day of the season and he snatched at what was probably City’s best chance of the game in the first half. Disappointing.
7 Raheem Sterling – 5/10
Was unfortunate to see his shot deflected wide of the post early in the game but that was about as eventful as the day got from Raheem’s point of view. Even he didn’t seem surprised to see his number go up in the 55th minute.
17 Kevin De Bruyne – 6/10
Was City’s best outlet and seemed to find himself in plenty of space on the right hand side on lots of occasions in the first half but, the smart pass to Yaya Toure aside, he seemed to give the ball away more often than he kept it. Moved over to the left in the second half but found himself double-marked by a couple of United players and was unable to effect the game. A good performance from De Bruyne could have been the difference between drawing and winning for City yesterday, but sadly it wasn’t to be.
14 Wilfried Bony – 5/10
Showed some nice touches and held the ball up well in the first 10 minutes of the match but to say he was anonymous thereafter would be putting it kindly. City fans have been very patient with Bony so far but performances like this one really put that patience to the test. We shouldn’t hold the fact that he isn’t Sergio Agüero against him, but he really needs to start showing us he has something else to offer this team on a regular basis.
15 Jesús Navas – 5/10
Seemed to come on mainly so De Bruyne could be moved over to the left and I suppose the best you can say about him is that he tracked back and didn’t do anything terrible. Nice to see his new liking for hopeless 30-yard pot-shots has carried over from the Sevilla game. Oh, did I say nice? I meant really annoying.
26 Martín Demichelis – Came on too late to mark
You just know Demichelis isn’t going to let us down when he comes off the bench to do a job in midfield late in games like this, and he didn’t.
72 Kelechi Iheanacho – Came on too late to mark
Ruffled a few feathers in United’s defence when he came on without really causing too much trouble. Crystal Palace in mid-week is an ideal opportunity to give him more than a 10 minute cameo, Pellegrini would be bonkers not to take it.
Written by Dan Burke