Veni Vidi Vici Derby

Manchester City came. Manchester City saw. Manchester City conquered. The Manchester Derby at Old Trafford on Sunday looked like a walk in the park disguised as a training session on the rain soaked pitch in the red side of Manchester. The team that Erik ten Hag named seemed surprisingly toothless when he named them and beyond the first 15 minutes of the match they were just as ineffective as we thought they would be in the pregame. The Cityzens were not in top form and they still managed to win a one-sided 3-nil affair putting them back in 3rd place on the EPL table. City are tied with Arsenal for 2nd place, with both teams having 24 points out of the first 10 matches played. Arsenal and City have the exact same goal difference, but Arsenal have scored 1 more goal and have the head-to-head win so Arsenal are currently 2nd in the table after the tiebreakers.  Erling Haaland missed some clear chances and Onana made some brilliant saves, yet still Haaland left with a brace and Foden got on the scoresheet again. Haaland and Foden seem to have a knack for scoring against United. Last season at the Etihad, both of those players had hat tricks in another 3 goal margin of victory derby win for City.

The blues came out a bit sloppy with their passing and the Red Devils came out with the energy expected from a home side playing for the honor of Sir Bobby Charlton, one of their club legends and all-time greats. We hoped United would be able to keep up those energy levels to make the game a fun and competitive one, but Man City quickly wrestled control of the game back from their metropolitan neighbors with their slick passing to possess the ball. City’s double pivots of Rodri and Stones proved to be an absolute force in the midfield. It’s almost an impossible venture to take the ball off those two. Throw in the slick skill and ball control of Foden, Alvarez, and Grealish, in the attacking third feeding the poaching mentality of Haaland along with the marauding pace of Walker on the back end and you get a combination lock that Manchester United simply could not crack. There were not many counterattacking sudden changes of possession and when there were, City were quick to snuff out the danger or United simply were not clinical enough to finish it off.

Manchester City opened up its scoring account with what many will consider a soft penalty, but by the letter of the law it was a clear penalty. Rodri and Haaland got loose in the box a few times and instead of properly defending, the red defenders decided to just grab them from behind and pull them down. Referees normally let that stuff go, and Paul Tierney did in real time, but in the era of VAR and Michael Oliver watching the video from his perch, you can’t always expect to get that level of grace. Mark your man and play better positional defense so that the referee is not forced to penalize you for a foul in the box. Haaland absolutely buried the pen in the bottom corner and Onana had no hope of saving it. His guttural roar at the Stretford end let the home fans know just how he felt about them and the songs they were singing at him. Then he doubled the lead with a directional header right at the beginning of the 2nd half and it pretty much felt like the match was done and dusted at that point. However, just to be sure, Haaland provided the slick assist to the Stockbridge born Phil Foden who finished it like a proper tap in merchant and slid on the waterlogged pitch to celebrate with blue clad fans in the away end.

The fact that Man City are still finding ways to win without their Talisman Kevin De Bruyne creating chances for them is a scary proposition for the rest of the league. When he returns, the team may kick on into a gear that no one else in the premier league can get to. Man City are undefeated in the season when Rodri is in the lineup. So as long as he doesn’t lose his head and pick up any other red cards, their chances of winning a 4th League title in a row are very solid. Man United on the other hand are floundering like trying to direct a kayak from the front with no paddles. I am truly stunned that this is the start that United are getting off to after the positive campaign that the red devils had last season. They failed to stop City from winning the treble and failed in yet another Manchester Derby. They have much to consider as they move forward through the season and consider what team they want to be. In the meantime, Man City continue to be light years ahead and their offseason signings like Doku and Gvardiol are already making huge impacts. Man City is off in the midweek after being bounced from the Carabao Cup by Newcastle and won’t play until Bournemouth on Saturday. Man United meets Newcastle on Wednesday for the right to move on to the Quarterfinals and defend the one trophy that they won last season.


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