With Manchester City in a bad run of form and a resurgent Manchester United beginning to find their feet in the league, today’s game became one of the most eagerly anticipated Manchester derbies of the past few years.
City came into the derby having failed to win in their last three games, while Manchester United haven’t lost in four straight games. United were given a massive boost before a ball had been kicked, with David Silva, who has been instrumental for City so far this season, ruled out due to injury.
United captain Wayne Rooney also returned to the squad after serving his three game suspension. However, Radamel Falcao was still out injured. Prior to the game, Louis van Gaal told Sky Sports, “We have a good feeling about this game.”
Both teams started carefully, reluctant to give too much away. The first clear chance came as the 10th minute approached. Sergio Aguero went on a trademark run, jinking in and out of players before getting a shot away from a tight angle. David de Gea parried the shot away comfortably.
The game sprung into life in the 20th minute, with City cutting United open with chance after chance. After a long ball from deep inside the City half found Aguero, who controlled well just yards away from the United penalty area, he drove down into the box. The Argentinian got a shot away, but De Gea was there to save once again.
Just moments later another City break saw Fernando pick the ball up on the left wing in acres of space, a delicately placed pass with the outside of his boot found Aguero again. De Gea came out quickly to deny the striker another chance.
After 38th minute United gave the ball away once again with a stray pass. The ball fell to James Milner, who found space down the left of the pitch. Chris Smalling was left with no choice but to come and close down the versatile midfielder. However, a poorly timed lunge from the United centre-back saw him chop down Milner and receive his second yellow card. United were down to ten men. Michael Carrick would make his return to the side, filling in at centre-back.
The first-half ended with immense pressure from City, who believed they should have been awarded a penalty. Jovetic provided a scooped ball into the path of Yaya Toure, who found space behind the United defence. Marcos Rojo went in awkwardly on Toure, but referee Michael Oliver gave nothing and blew for half-time.
The second-half started in a similar vein, both teams were attacking from the off but failed to show any real quality in the final third.
In the 53rd minute United’s defensive problems went from bad to worse when Marcos Rojo had to be stretchered off. After a rash sliding tackle on Martin Demichelles, he suffered a suspected shoulder injury. He was replaced by youngster Paddy McNair.
Just after the hour mark, Yaya Toure cut open the United defence, as he played a perfectly weighted pass through to Gael Clichy. Clichy then cut the ball back into the path of Sergio Aguero, who smashed the ball into the roof of the net. The goal seemed more like a case of when and not if and nobody deserved it more than Aguero.
With twenty minutes left on the clock Robin Van Persie created United’s best chance of the game. After a quick turn on the edge of the area, he drove into the box and hit a powerful strike towards the near post. Hart did well to close the gap and saved well.
City nearly made it two minutes later when Spaniard Jesus Navas took a shot from a tight angle, only to see his attempt strike the post.
The game started to pick up again in the 76th minute. Wayne Rooney collected the ball on the half-way line and only had one thought in his mind. The United captain drove at the heart of the City defence. After breaking through three players in blue shirts, he eventually played the ball to Van Persie, who knocked it on to Angel Di Maria. The Argentine managed to get a shot away towards the far corner, but Hart got down low to stop Di Maria’s powerful effort.
City failed to close the game out and it nearly came back to bite them. As the clock started to tick down, City began to look very shaky – no doubt because of their recent form. However, City managed to hang on and take all three points. The win sees the Blues take the gap between them and Chelsea back to six points.