MANCHESTER — Manchester City and Manchester United fought out a 0-0 draw in the Manchester Derby on Thursday as two teams battling for the top four canceled each other.
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City had the better chances with Sergio Aguero hitting the post and going close on multiple occasions but Pep Guardiola‘s men couldn’t break through and Jose Mourinho’s United — who finished the game with 10-men after Marouane Fellaini was sent off — remain one point and one place behind them in the table.
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Here’s what we learned from a tight, tense derby.
It seems like each and every week Marcus Rashford is improving drastically. The 19-year-old was the standout player on the pitch in the Manchester Derby at the Etihad, once again.
13 months ago Rashford scored a superb game-winner for United at City but as impressive as he was on that day, his game and body have developed drastically since then.
His sheer pace left City’s defenders for dead on mutliple occasions with Nicolas Otamendi and Aleksandar Kolarov often given a 10-yard head start but not able to catch Rashford.
An audacious flick over Otamendi with this back of his heel while he was on the move was the pick of his moment. Rashford is maturing rapidly and after he tore Chelsea apart just 10 days ago, he was United’s biggest attacking threat all evening.
Manchester United will miss Zlatan Ibrahimovic‘s penchant for popping up at the right place at the right time — as he’s done on 28 occasions this season before having his season ended through injury — but if Rashford is given enough time on the pitch, his rapidly development will surely see him flourish into one of the finest forwards in the game.
GUARDIOLA, MOURINHO OVERCAUTIOUS
All three games between Man City and Man United this season have been tight, tense encounters. This was no different.
City ripped United apart in the first half of their 2-1 win at Old Trafford back in September and then United edged things in a 1-0 home win in the EFL Cup a month later.
Guardiola’s City once again did all the pressing in this game as Aguero hit the outside of the post from a wonderful ball from the brilliant Kevin De Bruyne and the Argentine ace had an off day in front of goal, blazing off target on multiple occasions as United stayed compact but let him have a glimpse of the goal from distance.
With City just one point ahead of United with five games to go for both teams, Pep will probably still be feeling the more confident of the two managers about finishing in the top four given the respective run-in’s for both clubs. Yes, United have gone 24 games unbeaten in the Premier League but they aren’t exactly impressing.
Mourinho set his team up to counter with Rashford, Anthony Martial and Henrikh Mkhitaryan in attack but United never truly got hold of the ball as City’s high-pressing surprisingly unnerved season campaigners such as Michael Carrick, Ander Herrera and Fellaini with the latter headbutting Aguero stupidly late on to see red.
Considering all of thier injuries and plenty of games coming up, United will be happy with a point to stay in the top four hunt and so will City. The final encounter between Guardiola and Mourinho this season didn’t live up to the hype and with so much on the line in their debut camapigns in Manchester, just four goals across the three Manchester derbies proves that neither has lost face locally.
Then again, neither have impressed much this season either.
KOMPANY BACK TO HIS BEST
On three occasions in the first half Vincent Kompany stepped in to make superbly timed interceptions.
City’s skipper is well and truly back to his best.
After two injury ravaged campaign the Belgian star, 31, led from the back and was always willing to step high and engage United’s attacks to try and stop them at source.
Question marks will still remain about Kompany’s fitness for the foreseeable future but after playing three games in 12 days he finally seems to have not only regained his fitness but also his form.
It remains to be seen whether Kompany will still be at City next season but you have to think him remaining is essential after the shaky play of both Otamendi and John Stones for much of this season.
Since Kompany returned to fitness in early April, City have conceded just four goals in the four games he’s played with the skipper having two clean sheets and scoring a goal. He’s back to his best.