Man United 1 Man City 0: Three talking points
Three talking points as Sergio Aguero nets the winner in the Manchester derby
Van Gaal must address the injury crisis in defence
You would assume that Manchester United have been very unlucky this season with the amount of injuries they have had. But with Jonny Evans, Phil Jones and Rafael da Silva, it seems to be the same narrative every season. Jones only recently came back from a torn hamstring and played against West Brom, but is now out again with shin splints. Evans has endured another injury plagued campaign, while Rafael had seemingly put his injury woes behind him, only to limp out of training during the week. When you consider that United have only recently installed a new medical facility at their AON training complex in Carrington, it’s a worrying thought for United fans for the rest of the season. In the derby, the defensive weaknesses were ruthlessly exploited as they continued to target Antonio Valencia at right-back. There also seemed to be a lack of chemistry between both centre-halves. Marcos Rojo and Chris Smalling played like strangers and often left gaps between them which Sergio Aguero exploited with his pace. It may be down to the fact that Louis van Gaal has constantly tinkered with his defence using a number of different players. If United are to cement their place in next year’s Champions League, then Van Gaal will have to find a way of reducing the amount of injuries his team seem to suffer every week.
Another red card for United this season
Smalling’s red card was the third United have received this season in the league – and they are only 10 games into the campaign! What will make those dismissals more frustrating for Van Gaal is that two of them were definitely avoidable. Tyler Blackett’s red card against Leicester was probably down to inexperience as he wanted to make up for his mistake. The other two were more unforgivable. Wayne Rooney deservedly saw red for lashing out against Stewart Downing. And at The Etihad, Smalling showed immaturity as he went in recklessly against James Milner to earn himself a second booking. It is a familiar problem as they lost their discipline at times under the disastrous reign of David Moyes last season. It was something that simply would not have happened under Sir Alex Ferguson. In fact in 25 years, there were only 49 red cards in total under his watch. This United team is going through a period of transition but Van Gaal will have to make sure that indiscipline is cut out as they progress through the season.
City put their recent poor form behind them
There was talk of a mini crisis at City as they lost successive matches to West Ham and Newcastle and performed poorly against CSKA in the Champions League. Manuel Pellegrini openly spoke about their poor form in the lead up to the game. The Citizens manager said: “We will see with the players which is the way to try and recover that confidence because it’s not normal to see this team playing the way we are now”. But this performance will please him as the desire seemed to back in City’s football. Early on in the match, they pressed high up the pitch forcing United into quite a few mistakes. In the end, the pressure told as Smalling was sent off allowing City to pounce. They were relentless in their attack and it eventually led to Aguero’s winning goal. Even as United pressed late on, City rallied in defence with Kompany orchestrating things at the back. It wasn’t City’s best performance but they found a way to win and it keeps them in touch with league leaders Chelsea.