Three things we learned in Manchester City’s derby demolition of Manchester United

4 Comments

Following Manchester City’s comfortable 3-0 win over Manchester United pointed out plenty of things on Tuesday night.

Most notably, the balance of power in Manchester has shifted seismically towards the Blue half of the city.

From start to finish Manuel Pellegrini’s Man City took the game to United, and their relentless high-pressing and clinical finishing paid off. With this crucial win, City are now second in the league and just three points behind leaders Chelsea with two games in hand.

(MORE: Man United 0-3 Man City: Dzeko’s double hands City derby delight)

City are in the driving seat to win the PL crown, as United’s fans look on longingly from way down seventh as their ‘noisy neighbors’ are making quite the racket once again.

Let’s see exactly what we learned from yet another derby day demolition from City.

  • David Silva’s superb form will give Man City an extra edge in the run-in
source:
Silva’s pass map n the first half of City’s win over United. The playmaker just kept popping up everywhere. Source: Squawka.

Less than a minute. That’s how long it took for City to take the lead and deflate the electric atmosphere United’s home fans created. David Silva was at the center of Edin Dzeko’s opener as the diminutive Spaniard surged from the edge of the box toward the goal and created havoc. Rafael blocked Silva’s shot but Dzeko followed up to slot it home, as all game long Silva’s first-touch was sensational. United just couldn’t mark him, and the little man kept popping up in spaces behind Dzeko to devastating effect. Away at Hull last weekend just after City had gone down to 10-men, Silva curled in a world-class strike from 30-yards out to help grab a vital three points. He was the fulcrum of the Citizens attack and the heartbeat of their creativity once again on Tuesday. In recent weeks Silva has stepped it up when its really mattered, that’s the sign of a stellar player, and often a season curtailed by niggling injuries the Spanish sensation has regained the form which catapulted City to the PL title back in 2012.

If Silva keeps this form up, City will win the title at a canter this time.

(MORE: David Moyes takes responsibility for ‘disappointing’ derby before walking out of press conference)

  • City’s defensive nous key in next two huge away games

With plenty written about City’s marvelous attacking talents this season — and rightly so after they’ve smashed in 79 goals in 29 games — but City kept their fifth clean sheet in a row in the English top-flight. They haven’t done that since 1915. With the defensive unity looking incredible solid, shielded by the excellent Fernandinho, two big away games against Arsenal this Saturday, and then Liverpool on April 13 will likely determine if the Citizens will win their second PL title. Having Vincent Kompany back at the heart of their defense is key, plus Martin Demichelis has shaken off his nightmare in the FC Barcelona defeat and is now showing his fine pedigree as a defender.

Both full backs are reliable and add impetus going forward, but with trips to Arsenal and Liverpool coming up they have to be content with not having the lions share of possession and defending patiently throughout both matches. If they can shut out those two title challengers, they’ll give themselves one hand on the title.

  • Manchester United’s backbone needs rebuilding
source: Getty Images
City ran rings around United all night long, as new signings Fellaini and Mata continue to underwhelm at Old Trafford.

All season long, when things look to be heading back on track for United they’ve faltered. Once again that was the case, as they’ve now lost 10 times in a single Premier League season for the first-time in club history. Six of those games have been at home, losing all three against their North West rivals Everton, Liverpool and Manchester City without scoring. There’s no way we can dig deep into United’s plethora of problems here, quite frankly I could write a thesis on it. But it’s clear the spine of the side needs rebuilding. Two quality central defenders, a strong holding midfielder and a lively forward who can tear up opposition defenses with pace, something neither Wayne Rooney or RVP possess. With Nemanja Vidic gone and Rio Ferdinand on the way out, we’ve seen time and time again that Phil Jones and Chris Smalling aren’t good enough. In midfield the holding players are aging, Michael Carrick and Darren Fletcher, while Tom Cleverley can’t quite cut it when it matters.

David Moyes needs to spend big, but right now after his buys in the last two windows, you have to question whether Juan Mata and Marouane Fellaini were panic acquisitions or the right players to fight into United’s age-old philosophy of fast-paced attacking soccer. During the first half when United started to gather some steam, Mata was found on the edge of the box with the ball, but waited an age, then cut back inside and played the ball back to the defense. Their was no offensive urgency. That’s been a huge issue for the Red Devils. They need to find two-way players who can keep the ball and drive forward with it. For too long on Tuesday City were able to keep the ball and pass it around United’s players who were off the pace. United were nowhere near good enough, as the need for reinforcements is clear for all to see.

Referee leaders want on-field official to see video replays

Getty Images
Leave a comment

LONDON (AP) Antoine Griezmann headed the ball into the net and was in full celebration mode with his France teammates when referee Felix Swayer pinned a finger into his left ear to block out the stadium noise.

[ VIDEO: VAR system used correctly

An assistant in front of a bank of monitors was assessing replays and had some bad news for Griezmann. Swayer was told through his earpiece that a player was offside in the buildup.

The goal was then ruled out, without Swayer seeing a replay. But that won’t necessarily be the case by the time video replays are fully approved to be rolled out across soccer.

For now, the experimental phase is still in full flow but if refereeing leaders get their way officials should always have access to the footage themselves around the field.

“The subjective decisions should be made by the on-field referee because they have got the feel for the game,” Mike Riley, general manager of English refereeing organization, told The Associated Press. “They can put it in the context of everything else. So as part of the process we have got to work out how we can do that as effectively as possible … without interrupting the flow of the game.”

The International Football Association Board, the game’s lawmaking body, is in its second year of trials with various versions of video assistant referees (VAR). Some games, like the France-Spain friendly, do not allow the referee to evaluate incidents and instead by rely on the VAR.

But VAR could end up only ruling on what Riley describes as “decisions of fact,” such as whether a ball was inside or outside the penalty area.

Ultimately, if you are appointing one of the top referees to preside over a major game, that person is seen as ideal for making the big calls, according to IFAB.

“Fundamentally we are told very much by players and coaches they want the referee to be making the most important decisions,” IFAB technical director David Elleray said, referencing England’s top referee. “They don’t know who is in a van out in the car park or 300 miles away in a match center.”

Soccer’s lawmakers only envisage video replays being used to correct game-changing decisions involving four situations: penalties being awarded, red cards, cases of mistaken identity and goals being scored.

That situation arose twice in the Stade de France on Tuesday as France lost 2-0 to Spain. After Griezmann’s goal was disallowed, video replays worked against France again but in Spain’s favor when an incorrect offside call against Gerard Deulofeu was overturned and his goal stood.

Swayer again relied on the information from a colleague benefiting from replays.

“Nicola Rizzoli was appointed to referee the last World Cup final because he is the best referee,” Elleray said. “But if actually the two most important decisions in the match are made by somebody watching a TV screen … the most important person is the man you put behind the TV screen not the man on the field.”

The challenges are how referees are able to view replays without lengthening the delay. For now the technology isn’t satisfactory for officials to use wearable devices and receive footage in real time. That means going to the side of the field to watch incidents with the eyes of thousands of fans in the stands on them. The screens are likely to be on the opposite side to the technical area to avoid coaches being able to surround and harangue the referee.

“Some of our stadiums don’t lend themselves to monitors by the side of the pitch because they are really tight,” said Riley, a former Premier League referee who is now in charge of appointments for games in the world’s richest soccer competition. “Is it right for referees to have to run 30 yards to go and look? Can you get the footage to the referee on the field somehow? All these things have to be explored through the experiment and come out with a solution that works for football.”

Live experiments are taking place in about 20 competitions this year, including the Confederations Cup in Russia in June and July that will serves as a World Cup test event.

Once IFAB adds video replays to the laws of the game, any competition meeting the requirements will be able to use them.

For Riley, permitting replays is “the most significant change in refereeing in the game for generations,” far more significant than the 2012 decision to allow technology that simply determines whether the ball crossed the goal line.

“If you are making such a significant change,” Riley said, “you need to really explore and understand all the potential implications.”

Rob Harris can be followed at http://www.twitter.com/RobHarris and http://www.facebook.com/RobHarrisReports

Amid fanfare, Bastian Schweinsteiger arrives in Chicago

Chicago Fire
Leave a comment

Arriving at Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport, it is clear Bastian Schweinsteiger is kind of a big deal…

[ LIVE: Stream every PL game live

Posing for photos with fans as he stepped off the flight with his wife, former Serbian tennis star Ana Ivanovic, the former Bayern Munich midfielder was mobbed by Chicago Fire fans who are delighted he has arrived in Major League Soccer as the newest Designated Player.

The German legend has completed his move from Manchester United to the Fire and will be officially unveiled to the media on Wednesday after signing a one-year deal.

[ MORE: Latest MLS news ]

Schweinsteiger, 32, has already had a training session in the books and the World Cup winner is expected to make his debut in Chicago’s home clash with the Montreal Impact on Saturday at Toyota Park.

Below is a video of Schweinsteiger’s arrival in Chicago, his first training session and a collection of photos he took with ecstatic Fire fans.


Liverpool’s Emre Can scores stunning goal in training

Getty Images
Leave a comment

Emre Can, take a bow.

[ LIVE: Stream every PL game live

Alongside Sadio Mane and Georginio Wijnaldum, the German international stole the show as BT Sport rocked up for an episode of “Goals Recreated” at Melwood.

The premise is simple: can current day PL players recreate sensational goals of the past?

On this occasion each player had four attempts to mirror Papiss Cisse‘s stunning goal for Newcastle United against Chelsea, and although Mane came close Can was the man of the moment.

Click play on the video below to see the stunning effort.


Barcelona defends Messi over “unfair” suspension

Getty Images
Leave a comment

BARCELONA, Spain (AP) Barcelona says Lionel Messi’s four-match international suspension for insulting a linesman was “unfair and totally disproportionate.”

[ MORE: Messi handed ban by FIFA ]

Barcelona released a statement Wednesday expressing “its surprise and indignation” with FIFA’s decision to sideline the playmaker for so long following the incident in Argentina’s win over Chile in World Cup qualifying last week.

The punishment was announced before Argentina lost at Bolivia 2-0 Tuesday, a result that left the two-time champions at risk of not qualifying for next year’s World Cup in Russia.

Barcelona says it “wishes to reiterate its support for Leo Messi, an exemplary player in terms of conduct both on and off the field.”

Pending an appeal, Messi will only be available to play in Argentina’s final qualifier, on Oct. 10 against Ecuador.