Manchester City Defeat United With Otamendi Strike And Open 11-point Gap
For Manchester City, this was not just the day they declared themselves the best team in town. It counts for more than that, surely, when there is now an 11-point gap at the top of the Premier League and the team in second place have just learned the hard way why Pep Guardiola’s side are disappearing into the distance.
Guardiola and his players certainly give the impression they are in a hurry to finish this season’s title race. Their goal difference – which is more, almost ludicrously, than any other team’s goals-scored column – has the effect of another point and though it still seems ridiculously early, with snow on the pavements and advent calendars two-thirds unopened, who can possibly see a way back now for Manchester United? Far more likely, the gap will just continue to grow. It would be nice, for the sake of competition, if there might yet be another twist – but that seems unrealistic in the extreme. As far as the title goes, that surely is that.
Anything else would be extraordinary after City’s 14th successive league win and a game was that was so one-sided there were first-half statistics that showed José Mourinho’s men had seen just 22% of the ball. The more important detail came in the form of the goals from David Silva and Nicolás Otamendi that won this derby, with Marcus Rashford scoring for United in between, but when was the last time, on their own ground, United had so little possession? That alone must have been galling for their supporters.
The irony is that Mourinho’s players might still have rescued themselves. United’s manager complained afterwards that Ander Herrera should have had a penalty from Otamendi’s challenge, rather than a yellow card for diving, and there was a remarkable moment when Romelu Lukaku smashed a close-range shot into Ederson’s face and the substitute Juan Mata also aimed straight at the goalkeeper with the follow-up effort. Yet the days have passed since Sir Alex Ferguson used to boast no other team scored more late goals. In fact a lot has changed at Old Trafford judging by the narrative of this game and the difference in approach between the two sides.
The crowd here might still like to sing about “football taught by Matt Busby” but, as City’s players worked their elaborate passing patterns, there was a different soundtrack.
The first rendition of “Park the bus, Man United” could be heard from the away end on the 15-minute mark. The next song, expletive removed, queried whether the home team might be “scared”. Soon afterwards there were olés from the away end. OK, possession statistics do not mean bonus points but it was startling, nonetheless, to see how one team took care of the ball and the other did not. By half-time, City had played more than four times the number passes, 334 to 78, than the home side. Overall, City had 65% of possession against a team who had previously conceded only one league goal at home.
Guardiola finished the match with Silva operating as City’s most advanced player. The league leaders lost their captain, Vincent Kompany, to injury at half-time and had a spell with Fernandinho experimenting as a centre-half. Sergio Agüero, one of the best strikers of the Premier League era, was not required for a single minute. And yet the away side still found a way to outplay, outpass and outscore their opponents. Guardiola summed it up succinctly: “Last season was the same. We won because we were better. We were better in all departments.”
The only possible criticism, if we were nitpicking, was that Gabriel Jesus gave Mourinho the opportunity to refer back to his pre-match assertion that City’s players (not that he ever would, of course) dive too often. Jesus, chosen ahead of Agüero, should also have been booked for one of those tactical fouls that Mourinho had flagged up. Ultimately, however, the truth is that City did not have to resort to underhand tactics to signal their superiority.
They could certainly feel aggrieved that they were only drawing at half-time. Silva’s goal had arrived in the 42nd minute but it was a poor misjudgment from Fabian Delph that allowed Rashford his chance to equalize. Delph was caught out when Otamendi was unable to meet Marcos Rojo’s cross. Rashford was on the loose ball in a flash and fired a diagonal shot past Ederson.
Two minutes into first-half stoppage-time, that goal set up a second half in which United did at least seem to remember they were supposed to be the home side. City had an experimental back four, always slightly vulnerable to crosses from wide areas, but the same could also be said of the home team and the problem, perhaps, when so many attackers are asked to help out in defense, is that mistakes invariably occur.
In the 54th minute, Silva clipped a free-kick into the penalty area and Lukaku swung out his boot to hook the ball away. The attempted clearance ricocheted off his team-mate Chris Smalling and the ball fell invitingly for Otamendi to volley past David de Gea from inside the six-yard area.
For all of City’s quick, fluid, pass-them-to-death football, it was a scruffy, fortuitous way to score and the same applied when Silva opened the scoring earlier in the match. Kevin De Bruyne swung over a corner from the right and the ball thudded off the luckless Lukaku before dropping to Silva to hook in a close-range shot. “Two disgraceful goals,” Mourinho complained. And City relentlessly march on, champions-in-waiting before we have even reached Christmas
Source- THE GUARDIAN