Manchester United drew their 183rd Manchester Derby in a slow 0-0 tie against Pep Guardiola’s men. Kevin de Bruyne and Bruno Fernandes went head to head in order to assert their dominance in the midfield. However, both the players had relatively quiet outings.
In a slow and uneventful game, both teams’ cautious approaches gave viewers very little to entertain themselves with. After United’s disappointing exit from the Champions League, a win in the derby would have really lifted the Red Devils’ spirits. Despite the opportunities, both teams defended valiantly and denied the attackers from breaking the deadlock.
Ole’s team selection raised some eyebrows as Pogba returned to the lineup with McTominay, Fred, and Fernandes. Maguire and Lindelof were the center backs with Wan Bissaka and Shaw on the wings. David de Gea retained the manager’s confidence and Rashford and Greenwood were up ahead. Donny van de Beek, Martial, and Telles were among the substitutes.
Manchester United started the game on the backfoot with City dominating possession and knocking the ball around the park. United had a good chance in the 11th minute when Greenwood and Bruno combined well on the left and the move resulted in a corner. Lindelof flicked the ball towards the back post but McTominay was unable to get a touch on it. City threatened more as the half wore on. David de Gea saved Mahrez’s close shot, and Kevin de Bruyne’s rebound blazed over the crossbar. In a very lackluster first half, both teams were slow and defensive.
Manchester United started the second half strongly, as the midfield began feeding the ball to the forwards very well. A penalty was awarded to United in the 46th minute after Marcus Rashford was fouled in the box. However, upon VAR review, Rashford was adjudged offside and the penalty call was overturned. United also had a chance through Mason Greenwood but his shot rolled wide. Another shot from Rashford blazed wide but United looked stronger among the two teams.
United resorted to passing between the center backs and the goalkeeper, which invited a lot of pressure from City and United looked vulnerable. On the other end, Kevin de Bruyne had a good chance but Harry Maguire blocked the Belgian’s effort. In the 74th minute, Anthony Martial came on to replace Greenwood. Both teams settled for the draw as United’s last effort came through an ambitious effort from Bruno Fernades that was high and wide.
United’s fixture against City usually brings a lot of drama and quite a few goals. On this occasion, both teams displayed a midweek fixture hangover as the attacking intent was just lacking. United were unable to maintain possession and looked rattled by City’s high pressing game. During moments like these, the midfield needs to move off the ball more and give their backline some options. It was also a good opportunity for the forwards to break forward and get a 1 on 1 chance. We saw Harry Maguire’s potential to make a good long pass and Rashford and Greenwood should look to capitalize on that. Cavani’s absence hurt United immensely in their Champions League fixtures, and his absence was felt today as well. With a fit and firing United squad, we should be looking to dispatch opponents with a better attacking display.
In their coming fixtures, United will hope to secure maximum points and scale the table more. Paul Pogba showed quite a bit of hustle and determination in the first half but mellowed down more in the second. Rashford had a few good chances but his touch let him down. All in all, a match not worth writing home about, but both teams come out with a point and some confidence. As of now, Ole’s job remains secure and the team remains unbeaten in five premier league matches. Next, United make the trip to Sheffield United and then host Leeds. Two tricky but winnable fixtures coming up!