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Manchester Derby Review

Manchester City vs Manchester United: The Noisy Neighbours Raise The Roof 

Sunday’s Manchester derby pitted teams from the same city experiencing markedly different fortunes against each other. On one side was Manchester City with its consistent, efficient success against a Manchester United side trying to turn around recent years of underachievement. 

In the end, the result went the way most people had predicted – Manchester City steamrolled a hapless Manchester United side and ended the match as a contest before halftime. 

Even though Manchester United made sure the scoreline was more respectable with three goals of their own in the second half, you cannot help but come away feeling like you just watched a boxing match between two fighters in different weight categories. 

Phil Foden opened the scoring early on with a fine finish after holding his run into the box to sweep in a Bernando Silva cross. This goal came from a patient build up on the left side with both Antony and Scott McTominnay failing to show any aggression when marking their man. 

For the second goal, Erling Haaland ran off his marker Christian Eriksen to outjump McTominay and power in a header that Tyrell Malacia failed to clear before it crossed the line. 

Haaland then got his second just three minutes later after Kevin De Bruyne picked him out at the back post with a brilliant through ball.  

Foden made it four just before the break, another sweeping move down the left with the assist supplied by Halaand this time around. 

Antony rasped in a lovely long range strike early in the second half, but Haaland swept home his third in a move that looked nearly identical to Foden’s opener. 

Foden then completed his first career hat-trick when played through by Erling Halaand before Anthony Martial scored two late consolation goals to give the final result some gloss. 

Here are some observations from the derby: 

It is City’s title to lose this season 

Despite being a point behind league leaders Arsenal, there is a sense that the North London side are merely pretenders to the throne with Manchester City being the team with a true claim to the title. It is difficult to predict otherwise considering how much talent is available at Pep Guardiola’s disposal. 

This depth of talent was underscored when Pep Guardiola started Ilkay Gundogan in place of Rodri. The German slotted into midfield alongside Kevin De Bruyne and Bernardo Silva and hardly played a holding midfield role, but interchanged positions with the other City midfielders as they remained on the front foot for most of the match. 

Elsewhere, Ruben Dias was only good enough for the city bench as Guardiola tested out a centre back pairing of Manuel Akanji and Nathan Ake. 

For a while now the balance of power has shifted to the blue side of Manchester. These days, Manchester City victories in the derby are no longer anomalies, they are expected. This is scary not just for United, but for the rest of the league. 

(Bet on Man City to win the Premier League @1.30) 

Manchester United are now the Derby day underdogs 

Manchester City have now won three consecutive Premier League games against Manchester United,  one more win will see them equaling the four-match winning run against United they had between April 2013 and November 2014.  

At times it felt like you were watching a team of professionals against schoolboys. At half-time large swathes of United fans left the stadium – they had seen enough.  

This reflected how lackluster United’s performance was against the aggression and efficiency OF Manchester City. 

City were dominant from the first whistle and both United full backs quickly found themselves in trouble. Diogo Dalot picked up a yellow card within the first five minutes of the match and Tyrell Malacia followed suit on the 21st minute mark. 

Haaland sets Premier League goal-scoring record, more to follow 

Erling Haaland collected another hat-trick to become the first player to do so in three successive Premier League home games. When he swept in Sergio Gomez’s cross he became the fastest player to score three hat tricks in the Premier League, beating Michael Owen’s record in 40 less games. 

Perhaps more terrifying for the rest of the league is that in just eight games this season, the Norwegian is only nine goals off last season’s top goal scorer haul of twenty-three goals.  

Haaland has looked heads and shoulders above every opposition defender he has faced. He has also shown that he can assist, creating two goals for Phil Foden’s first career hat trick. 

It is hard to bet against Haaland beating the Premier League record of 34 goals in a season, he has Kevin De Bruyne supplying him, and the Belgian has reveled in his role, he currently has eight assists in nine matches, he is also on course to setting a new Premier League assist record. 

[Bet on Erling Haaland to finish as Premier League‘s top goalscorer @1.25]  

Manchester United are still not over the hill yet 

Erik Ten Haag started the derby with a midfield three of Christian Eriksen, Bruno Fernandes and Scott McTominay. This was the same trio he started against Arsenal in their 3-1 win at Old Trafford. 

What ensued at the Etihad was a midfield run ragged by Manchester City’s trio of Ilkay Gundogan, Kevin De Bruyne and Bernardo Silva. This performance recalled shades of the trip to Brentford where United failed at executing the basics and played with little aggression. 

This could be down to the intensity with which City started the match, ensuring that United’s fullbacks were both playing with yellow cards within 21 minutes of the first half. However, what will keep Ten Haag up at night will be the naivety with which the personnel he fielded played. Some of that blame is firmly at Ten Haag’s doorstep – if it was Casemiro in place of Eriksen, then he would have probably hacked down De Bruyne to prevent the third goal. Unfortunately, Casemiro lacks the creativity Eriksen provides. This might leave United needing to further recruit in midfield if they hope to challenge their city rivals anytime soon.  

Once again for United, there are questions to be answered by both the players and the manager.  

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