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

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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
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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
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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.

Terry: “I couldn’t care less” about 26th-minute farewell criticism

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John Terry is a man who… well, let’s just say, does things his way.

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For instance, remember the time Chelsea won the UEFA Champions League, by beating Bayern Munich, in penalties? Remember Chelsea’s post-game celebrations, which saw Terry, who was suspended for the final at the Allianz Arena, joyously jumping around with his teammates wearing his full kit, shin guards and all?

Was it over the top and a bit silly? Sure it was, but was anyone hurt or genuinely upset by it? Of course not. On Sunday, as Terry said goodbye to the only club he’s ever known (apart from a six-game loan spell at Nottingham Forest in 2000), he toed the line between what’s acceptable and what’s outlandish. Just like in 2012, Terry caused a minor uproar, and just like in 2012 he “couldn’t care less” — quotes from the Guardian:

“I couldn’t care less, I promise you. All I care about is celebrating with my Chelsea fans. Me and them have a wonderful rapport and have done for 22 years. Nothing that people write or say can ever get in the way of that.

“If that’s the way I want to go out, that’s the way I go out because I’ve been here 22 years, I’ve won so many trophies — so if I wanted to play one minute and come off, I would have done.

“I wanted to play 26 minutes because the shirt number means a lot to me and the supporters so as long as they are happy – and I was over the moon with the reception – I promise you I could not care less.”

“It was an unbelievable send-off from the supporters to help me to celebrate 22 years at the club.

“I’m very grateful to them, and it was something I will never forget. It was so emotional after the game, I was in bits.”

There’s something to be said about the success that Chelsea have had as a club, and the way its recency leads them to feel they are perceived by the outside world. Other clubs, “bigger,” most historic clubs — Manchester United, Liverpool and Arsenal, for example — have been winning trophies pretty regularly for decades, while 70 percent of the major trophies (14 of 20) won in the club’s history have come since Roman Abramovich bought the club 14 years ago, in 2003. Chelsea is a 112-year-old football club.

[ MORE: Pogba, Mkhitaryan fire Man United to Europa League trophy ]

Chelsea’s players and fans are so clearly away of their bought-and-paid-for status, thus everything is celebrated on the grandest scale, almost as if to legitimize their accomplishments (which stand up just fine on their own two feet) and standing within the hierarchy of English football. “Contrived” (and admittedly so) is the word that comes to mind and best describes Terry’s send-off.

No one in this space is saying there’s anything wrong with that, but everyone connected to Chelsea must realize and accept that it looks silly to supporters of the aforementioned long-time giants, and they’re going to be pointed at and laughed at every time they do it.

FA Cup: Three key battles between Arsenal, Chelsea

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The FA Cup final usually brings out terrific entertainment for the fans, and this Saturday’s finale should be no different.

When Arsenal and Chelsea take the field at Wembley Stadium, it will be the last chance this season for some of the Premier League’s stars such as Eden Hazard and Diego Costa for Chelsea and Alexis Sanchez and Mezut Ozil for Arsenal to bring glory to their club.

[ MORE: Follow all the FA Cup scores here ]

The match features two teams heading in different directions. Chelsea, the Premier League champions are in the ascendency after a one-year hiatus out of European competition, while Arsenal finished outside the top-four places in the Premier League for the first time in 20 years under manager Arsene Wenger.

In addition, there’s plenty of other storylines to watch on the field, from whether it’s Costa, Sanchez and Ozil’s potential last matches with their respective teams to how Arsenal will deal without two of its three regular centerbacks they’ve used this season.

Here’s a look at three key battles on the field ahead of the FA Cup final:


Arsenal’s centerbacks vs. Diego Costa

Diego Costa may be a thorn in Chelsea’s side off the field when it comes to the constant speculation of a move away from Stamford Bridge, but on the field this season he’s been brilliant. Costa scored 20 goals in the Premier League and another goal in FA Cup action, and he contributes off the ball as well, drawing the defense in towards him while opening up space for teammates including Hazard and Willian.

Heading into Saturday, it’s unclear who on Arsenal will be tasked with marking Costa. Laurent Koscielny was issued a straight red card in Arsenal’s 3-1 win over Everton and will miss the FA Cup final due to suspension while fellow centerback Gabriel left the field on a stretcher after suffering a knee injury. In addition, Shkodran Mustafi is still recovering from a concussion and is a doubt for Saturday.

That leaves Wenger with just Per Mertesacker and Rob Holding as healthy centerbacks, which could force Wenger to revert back to his usual four-man backline from the more recent three-man backline that’s been used.

Regardless of who Arsenal put out there, expect Costa to be at his best, attempting to physically dominate his opponent and get under their skin.


Nemanja Matic and N'Golo Kante vs. Mesut Ozil and Alexis Sanchez

Arsenal are at their best when they play through the middle of the field before finding runners out wide, setting up crossing attempts into the middle or perhaps another chance to play through the lines in the center of the field.

Standing in Arsenal’s playmaking duo of Mezut Ozil and Alexis Sanchez’s way are Nemanja Matic and N’Golo Kante. Kante, as Riyad Mahrez saw last year, does so much of the dirty work defensively that he allows his teammates including Matic and Hazard to bomb forward and either create or finish goal-scoring opportunities.

Kante will have his hands full dealing with Ozil and Sanchez in midfield, and Matic may need to sit a bit deeper to cut off the passing lanes, potentially taking him out of Chelsea’s counter attack.


Eden Hazard vs. Hector Bellerin

For all the speed that Hazard possesses on the ball, there’s at least one player on Arsenal who can keep stride pace-for-pace.

With Hazard likely lining up on the left wing, Arsenal’s right wing back Hector Bellerin will likely face Hazard up one-on-one at both ends of the field, setting up a fun encounter. With Bellerin’s speed and ability to track back, he may be open to a few 40-yard springs into space down the right wing, knowing that Hazard probably won’t be in hot pursuit.

But if Bellerin doesn’t end up with the ball and there’s an Arsenal turnover, Hazard on his own or against a centerback on the left wing could be a nightmare for Arsenal to deal with.

Man United, Man City come together to support terror victims

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The Manchester derby is known as one of the world’s fiercest rivalries, but in the wake of a devastating terrorist attack this week, both sides are joining together to support the city of Manchester and victims of the attack.

Manchester United and Manchester City announced Thursday they pledged together nearly $1.3 million into the We Love Manchester community fund. The fund was set up to assist the families of the 22 people who died and 64 people who were injured in the attack.

“The barbarism of Monday evening’s attack has shocked everyone,” Manchester United executive vice chairman Ed Woodward said in a statement. “Our clubs are right at the heart of our local communities in Manchester and it is right that we present a unified response to this tragedy. The money will help of course but the work of the two clubs and their respective foundation and community scheme can build on the fantastic spirit that Mancunians have shown in the immediate aftermath.”

Folks who want to donate to the fund can visit http://www.redcross.org.uk/manchester or http://www.justgiving.com/campaigns/charity/redcross/ManchesterEmergencyFund.

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Liverpool, Leicester City headline Premier League Asia Trophy

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The Premier League is coming this summer to Hong Kong.

The territory in Southeast China will host the 2017 Premier League Asia Trophy, featuring Liverpool, Leicester City, West Bromwich Albion and Crystal Palace. The tournament will take place from July 19-22, with all games taking place at the 40,000-seat Hong Kong Stadium.

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“We are very excited to be returning to Hong Kong this summer for the Premier League Asia Trophy,” Premier League Executive Chairman Richard Scudamore said in a statement. “We know from previous visits that fans in Hong Kong, and across the region, are passionate supporters of our clubs.”

This summer’s edition of the biennial tournament is the first to feature four Premier League teams. In the past, an Asian All-Star XI or a local club would be the fourth team to take part. By bringing a fourth team over, the Premier League is increasing the opportunity for Premier League fans to have a chance to see more of the league’s stars up close and in person.

For Liverpool, it will be the start of a busy season that will include UEFA Champions League action for the first time since 2015.