Home ยป Three things we learned from Manchester United’s brilliant derby comeback against Man City

Three things we learned from Manchester United’s brilliant derby comeback against Man City

by Derick Kinoti

Manchester United hosted bitter rivals Manchester City at Old Trafford with Erik ten Hag keen to write the wrongs of the first leg against Pep Guardiola’s side.

The game was a defining one, with United needing to cement their status in the top-four battle while City sought to close the gap on league leaders, Arsenal.

Ten Hag fielded a completely different starting XI from the one that won against Charlton. David de Gea came back in between the sticks. Luke Shaw slotted next to Raphael Varane with Aaron Wan-Bissaka and Tyrell Malacia patrolling the flanks.

Fred and Casemiro formed the midfield pivot with Christian Eriksen ahead of the Brazilian duo. Anthony Martial led the line with Marcus Rashford and Bruno Fernandes on either side of him.

Here are three things we learned from Manchester United’s 2-1 win against Manchester City.

Fantastic first half

United were outstanding in the opening 45 minutes and did well to limit their noisy neighbours.

Despite City having more than double of possession, they failed to register a shot on target in the first period of the crucial derby.

United had four shots, with two on target. City on the other hand registered two shots with none challenging De Gea.

The Red Devils were solid defensively and restricted City to crumbs. The team never really looked in danger of conceding, largely due to Ten Hag coaching a defensive masterclass.

The midfield did its job, led by Casemiro and a rampant Fred who found himself in all sorts of areas on the pitch. Varane and Shaw also did well in marking Erling Haaland out of the game. The Norwegian barely had a sniff!

Malacia had Mahrez where he wanted him as did Wan-Bissaka with the lacklustre Phil Foden.

Rashford had the two best chances of the first half and should have done better with both, including one where he had an open goal with only one centre defender to bypass after Ederson found himself in no man’s land.

Ten Hag would have undoubtedly be ruing his team’s missed opportunities but would have been pleased by the overall performance against one of the best teams in the land.

Fred was superb

Fred started for the first time in a while in a Premier League game and he repaid Ten Hag’s faith in him.

The 29-year-old did a splendid job of covering the ground and injecting energy in the middle of the park.

Primarily tasked with man-marking Kevin de Bruyne, Fred stuck to the Belgian like a fly and effectively neutralized him, especially in the first half.

His passing was good and his defensive output could not be faulted.

He gave a helping hand to Malacia against Mahrez and also ensured the Dutchman was not double-teamed by the opposition.

Fred’s performance levels momentarily took a dip in the second half but that was largely due to the team’s drop-off and constant ceding of possession.

Ten Hag’s revolution rapidly taking shape

United’s brilliant comeback is an indication that Ten Hag’s methods are taking shape at Old Trafford.

In the buildup to the game, the United boss placed a heavy focus on attitude, a winning mentality and perseverance. He called for something completely different to the first-leg mauling.

His players listened and gave him that and more.

After starting the second period on a low note, a Fernandes equalizer gave the team the much-needed impetus that was required.

The players rediscovered themselves, rallied together and Alejandro Garnacho provided the spark to stage a comeback.

The Argentine did brilliantly inside the box and delivered a perfect ball to Rashford for the winner against City.

United fans have a lot to look forward to under Ten Hag and today was a demonstration of such. Bring on Arsenal!

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