Manchester United pulled off a stunning 2-1 win over arch-rivals Manchester City in their derby on Saturday, moving up to fifth place in the Premier League and further hampering City’s chances of challenging for the title this season.
The Citizens are now 14 points behind Liverpool moving into a flurry of difficult games, while United recorded back-to-back wins in the Premier League for the first time this season.
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s job was under threat with Mauricio Pochettino allegedly showing interest in replacing him, but he was surely a happy man after the win. The win also pointed out many encouraging aspects about the young Red Devils, including the improvement of certain players.
City, meanwhile, just didn’t show enough character to complete the comeback after United had raced towards an early two-goal lead. After a thrilling game between the Manchester giants, here are three things we learned from the derby.
Solskjaer has turned United into a terror to defend against
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer took a risk in playing a relatively attack-minded formation at the Etihad, a place where everyone turns defensive, and took the game right to City from the get-go. United were clever with their attacking transitions, with their electric counter-attack causing discomfort to the defending champions.
As a result of the relentless counter-attacks, Ederson was forced to make a few saves before United score both goals on the break. Marcus Rashford earned and scored a penalty after a clever move, before Anthony Martial’s goal was also the end of a swift-break.
Daniel James had a field day sprinting past the lacklustre Angelino, while Jesse Lingard moved into space intelligently as well. United proved their attacking potential with their whirlwind moves, which proved why they now boast a menacing attack to defend against.
City must buy a centre-back in January
Manchester City might have one of the strongest attacking cores in Europe, but their defence is erasing whatever good their front-men are producing. While they kept on testing United with relentless attacks in the Derby, their defence let them down again.
Angelino couldn’t keep up with James, Fernandinho looked weary at times, John Stones ended up being injured again and Nicolas Otamendi positional sense was poor. City struggled to cope with United’s electric pace and allowed them to romp forward because of how nervy their backline was.
Aymeric Laporte might be returning soon, but they still need a quality centre-back in January. If they’re to put on a challenge in the second half of the season, City needs a sturdy centre-back to maintain a compact defensive shape and bring that warrior spirit-which has been missing since Vincent Kompany’s departure- back into their defence.
Aaron Wan-Bissaka is a bargain buy for United
While the brilliance of Rashford and Martial sealed the win for United, the incredible defensive work they put in after going 2-0 ahead made it possible. The Red Devils defended as an unbreakable unit, but one to particularly shine through was the indomitable Aaron Wan-Bissaka.
Coming up against an in-form Raheem Sterling in his first-ever Manchester Derby, he was like an impenetrable wall down the right. He absolutely neutralized Sterling’s threat, making timely clearances and tackles to pin him down.
He made 7 clearances, 5 tackles and 4 blocked crosses in a man-of-the-match performance against the defending champions, proving why United hit the bullseye in signing him this summer.