Manchester United vs. Manchester City - Match Analysis

Photo by The Independent
Manchester United found themselves on the wrong side of a potential title decider on Wednesday night, as Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's men suffered a 0-2 defeat in a derby clash against Manchester City at Old Trafford. 

United were going to have a major say in the title race coming into this game, as whatever the result may have been, either City or Liverpool were going to be left in the driver’s seat with three games remaining. 

The hosts went on to record their seventh loss in nine games in all competitions, and handed their noisy neighbours the pole position to secure back-to-back league titles. 

Coming off the 4-0 thrashing away to Everton, United fans approached the derby fixture with even more mixed emotions than expected. All of a sudden, the issue was a lot deeper than gifting Liverpool the title with a win. The players commitment to the badge was in question and there was fear of another 6-1 being on the horizon.

The manager and the fans desperately needed to see a response from the players, especially because despite United’s recent slump, Champions League berth was still on the line. 

The first 45 minutes were promising. United certainly looked like they were up for it.

It was very much a midfield battle, with both teams struggling to really put their stamp on the game and gain total control. United and City failed to convert any of their half chances and the teams strolled down the tunnel for half time tied at 0-0.

After the opening frame, the men in red certainly showed more commitment to the cause, leaving a positive impression ahead of the second half. 

But the second half went on to expose what perhaps is the biggest issue under Ole — the lack of fitness. Solskjaer has emphasized on multiple occasions that he expects his team to be the hardest working team in the league, no matter whether it’s a relegation struggler or a title contender. The Norwegian took over United in December, and as the games got harder, he gradually began to learn the fitness levels of his team — or the lack of them. 

It is hard to keep up with Pep Guardiola-coached teams as it is, as you are forced to run more than usual due to their style of play. The difficulty doubles when you have just been beaten 4-0, and all eyes are on you expecting a response and a demonstration that you are willing to leave it all out there for the club.

As a result of that, the gas tanks of the United players looked near empty after ten minutes of the second half, and that’s when City ruthlessly took advantage.

The visitors looked more dangerous by the minute, and they opened up the scoring when the clock struck 54, as Bernardo Silva was given too much time to pick a low driven shot inside the box and beat David De Gea on his near post.

City then doubled their lead 12 minutes later, as Leroy Sane pounced on the United defence playing in a vertical line, and raced into the box before arrowing a shot into the bottom right corner.

If United’s struggles on the offensive end weren’t enough, it now appears as if De Gea is now experiencing his worst spell of form in over six years — adding to the list of United’s problems. 

But despite all of the recent struggles, Solskjaer’s men are still not down and out of the race for top four — with direct challengers Chelsea coming to town on Sunday.

It seems like every game for the past few weeks has been the biggest game of the season for “The Red Devils.” This weekend will very much be another one of those games, as a win would set up a season-defining final two weeks. 


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