Last weekend saw the two Manchester based clubs, United and City, meet in the first derby match of the season.Prior to the game, the clubs sat in first and second place respectively, and thus the match seemed to signal a pivotal point in the season, as it may far from only seem to determine who might be positioned at the head of the table, however may also suggest which team possesses enough talent and quality to go on to win the league. Both clubs used squads containing over £200 million worth of talent,including the most expensive player in the world, and the two most expensive Englishmen. As such, it may have seemed the teams were evenly matched, and thus the match may result in a competitive and intriguing fixture.
Playing at home, Manchester United may have had an advantage, and they started the match with all four summer signings in their eleven, including Paul Pogba, transferred from Juventus for a world record £89 million fee, and former Borussia Dortmund wide man Henrikh Mkhitaryan. Zlatan Ibrahimovic, who had scored four goals in four appearances for the Red Devils, kept his place as the focal point of the spearhead, with Mourinho deciding to potentially use Marcus Rashford as a substitute, after what seemed to be an accomplished performance in his debut for the England U21’s last weekend. Manchester City also seemed to focus on familiarity, lining up with a 4-1-4-1 formation that seems to have contributed to Manchester City’s 100% record prior to the international break. Claudio Bravo made his debut in goal for City, whilst seemingly the most important change was in the striker position: Kelechi Iheanacho replacing Sergio Aguero, ineligible to play.
The match also seemed to see the return of the competition between seemingly two of the best managers in the world, José Mourinho and Pep Guardiola. The two managers have had previous encounters between each other, most notably between the years 2010-2012, when Guardiola was managing Barcelona and Mourinho Real Madrid. It may seem, overall, Guardiola has come out on top in the previous matches, winning seven of the sixteen ties, and drawing six. Both seem to have proved their tactical nouse as, having seemingly managed a smorgasbord of top clubs in varying countries, the first Premier League encounter between the two may have seemed to be intriguing.
Manchester City opened the scoring through Kevin De Bruyne after 15 minutes; the pressing midfielder may be seen as a pivotal figure for the Sky Blues this season, as he may be looking to build on his personal performance previous season: seven goals and nine assists in the league. Kelechi Iheanacho went on to double Manchester City’s lead, slotting the ball into the net after a De Bruyne cross, before Zlatan Ibrahimovic pulled a goal back minutes before half-time. Mourinho seemed to show his tactical nouse at the break, substituting Mkhitaryan and Lingard, and providing Marcus Rashford with an opportunity to add to the winner he scored versus Hull in the previous fixture. With the need for a goal seeming to increase, Mourinho reverted to a 3-5-2 formation in an attempt to move toward a more venomous approach, yet Guardiola’s men, after late backline substitutions, went on to gain the three points, which may impact the club positively at the end of the season.
Currently Manchester City are in first position and, after Chelsea’s draw with Swansea earned them a point, Manchester United are placed in fourth. Next weekend sees fixtures for both clubs which may result in wins, with Bournemouth travelling to the Etihad, and United away to Watford. The match seemed to be a completion between two of the best clubs in England, considering both are in the Champions League positions and with both squads costing over £200 million, it may seem some of the best players in the world were showcasing their quality in the match. If players including Raheem Sterling, Nolito and Kevin De Bruyne are able to maintain the form they seemed to show in this fixture, it may act as a catalyst in Manchester City’s title charge.
Which Manchester club may finish higher in the table?