Robbie Mustoe and Robbie Earle look back at a defining derby match between Man City and Man United (00:30), Liverpool’s comfortable win against Fulham (25:45), the stalemate between Chelsea and Everton (31:30) and a hard fought match between Arsenal and Wolves (41:30).
20. Fulham — Much better against Liverpool than recent opposition, but still on pace to break the Premier League record for goals allowed. Last week: 20 Season high: 11 Season low: 20
19. Huddersfield Town — A nice point against West Ham, but it’s difficult to look at the match and think the Terriers would’ve managed a point from performances of that ilk more than once in a great while. Last week: 19 Season high: 18 Season low: 20
18. Burnley — Still capable of solid performances, but the attack looks like a relegation candidate more often than not. Last week: 15 Season high: 13 Season low: 20
17. Crystal Palace *New season low* — A victim of the schedule? Sure, but there’s little to like about the attack as even Wilfried Zaha appears shaken in confidence. Last week: 14 Season high: 6 Season low: 17
16. Cardiff City — Aided in a big way by Dale Stephens red card, but the Bluebirds are looking less and less like the automatic relegation team of early weeks. Last week: 16 Season high: 16 Season low: 20
15. Southampton — Probably deserved all three points against Watford, but looking ready to take the next step despite a miserly start points-wise. Last week: 17 Season high: 13 Season low: 17
14. Newcastle United — Rafa Benitez‘s men are the pound-for-pound defensive champions of the league. Only six teams have allowed fewer goals, and only one is lower than 7th on the table (Wolves, 11th). Last week: 16 Season high: 13 Season low: 19
13. Brighton and Hove Albion — Two-straight losses following the 2-1 defeat at Cardiff, in what draws Bournemouth as the top disappointments of the week. Last week: 10 Season high: 9 Season low: 19
11. Watford — Hornets looking more and more like early over-performers. Last week: 12 Season high: 4 Season low: 14
10. Wolves — Gave Arsenal all it could handle, but fans should be demanding more from a club which thrives against big clubs but has not performed against several seemingly lesser sides. Last week: 13 Season high: 5 Season low: 13
9. Leicester City — To take four of six points with a trip to their owner’s funeral in Thailand sandwiched in between is a serious achievement. Last week: 9 Season high: 7 Season low: 13
8. Bournemouth — Eddie Howe will be raging with his Cherries for their performance at Newcastle United, a lost chance to sit a point back of Arsenal. Last week: 8 Season high: 6 Season low: 12
6. Everton — Two weeks to prepare for a visit from Cardiff, and then the away Merseyside Derby. If the Toffees manage a draw at Liverpool, it’s not unreasonable to think they should nab 10 from their next 12 points. Last week: 7 Season high: 5 Season low: 13
5. Arsenal — Beat Everton in September, and that will keep the Gunners ahead of the impressive Toffees… for now. Last week: 4 Season high: 2 Season low: 9
4. Chelsea — Surely the draw vs. Everton is a case of a decent opponent and Europa League lag, but championship winners generally find a way to get the winner at home. Last week: 3 Season high: 1 Season low: 5
3. Liverpool — It seems unrealistic to expect blowouts each week, but the Reds’ 2-0 win over a defensively-weak Fulham was tepid at best. Last week: 2 Season high: 1 Season low: 4
2. Spurs *New season high* — Despite injury and form problems for pretty much all of its biggest stars, Spurs sit three points back of second, are two rounds from the League Cup final, and aren’t dead in the Champions League. Yes, Spurs were by far second-best in a Sept. 15 home loss to the Reds, but it’s been two months.
Their next two league matches are home to Chelsea and away to Arsenal, so the heights could be brief, but what Spurs have done in the face of wild injuries is impressive. Last week: 4 Season high: 2 Season low: 8
1. Man City — For everyone mentioning the absence of Paul Pogba for United in the derby, City was missing Kevin De Bruyne. This team is hearkening back to Pep’s best Barcelona teams, without a Lionel Messi in the bunch. Last week: 1 Season high: 1 Season low: 2
Sterling had a wonderful day in City’s 3-1 win and was fresh off signing a new contract with the reigning Premier League champions.
But that was all for nought by the time Guardiola met Sterling on the field after the final whistle.
“I don’t like it when you make some movements with the hands. They know how to play simple and they did it but at the end he made the move with the legs and I didn’t like it so much. But again he’s young and I’m pretty sure it’s not going to happen again.”
It was an intense encounter at the Etihad Stadium, as City dominated but United threatened to launch yet another comeback.
Here’s how each player ranked out of 10 during a frantic derby.
Ederson: 5 – Didn’t have too much to do but gave away a penalty kick rashly at a pivotal moment in the match. Another rush of blood to the head. Kyle Walker: 6 – Some decent runs forward but United always looked more dangerous down his flank. Work to do defensively. John Stones: 7 – Some key clearances and headers and dealt with Marcus Rashford easily. Aymeric Laporte: 7 – See above. Another easy afternoon for Laporte who continues his incredible unbeaten run. Benjamin Mendy: 6 – Not his best afternoon going forward but more than solid defensively. Edging back to his best. Fernandinho: 7 – Scrapped away in midfield and had a decent effort from distance. Unsung hero. Again. Bernardo Silva: 8 – Involved in two of City’s three goals and his pass to Gundogan for the third was sublime. David Silva: 8 – A goal from City’s captain to get things going and Silva was at his best. Raheem Sterling: 9 – Fine individual display. Set up the first goal, ran United ragged on the break. Has it all. Riyad Mahrez: 7 – Involved in Aguero’s goal and drifted in and of the game. Started well but faded in second half. Sergio Aguero: 8 – Hammered home City’s second and was a constant pest. Subbed off late on to a standing ovation.
62′ Leroy Sane on for Mahrez: 6 – A few decent chances but didn’t make the most of them. Worked hard down the left.
75′ Ilkay Gundogan on for Aguero: 6 – Missed one good chance and finished another. Nice little cameo.
90+2′ Phil Foden on for D. Silva: N/A – On for the final few seconds.
David De Gea: 7 – A couple of decent saves down low and solid as ever. Should he have saved Aguero’s shot? Ashley Young: 7 – Kept plugging away down the right flank and whipped in some dangerous crosses. Chris Smalling: 6 – Headed a few balls clear but like Lindelof, never looked at ease. Victor Lindelof: 5 – Caught out by Aguero’s one-two with Mahrez for the second goal. Didn’t look comfortable. Luke Shaw: 5 – Caught out with Sterling’s cross for the first goal. Shaky in possession. Not his finest display. Ander Herrera: 6 – His kind of game. Tried to snap away at City’s midfielders but ended up chasing shadows. Nemanja Matic: 6 – Tried to start some of United’s attack and calm them down as best as he could. Marouane Fellaini: 5 – Added little threat going forward and didn’t add much defensively. Jesse Lingard: 4 – Apart from one good run in the first half when he was brought down, failed to impact the game. Subbed off. Anthony Martial: 5 – A frustrating afternoon with little service out on the left. Summed up by passing the ball out of play in the first half. Scored a penalty kick but did little else. Marcus Rashford: 4 – Some poor first touches and hooked off in the second half.
57′ Romelu Lukaku on for Lingard: 6 – Won a penalty kick but did little else
73′ Juan Mata on for Herrera: 6 – Whipped in some decent deliveries. Too little time.
73′ Alexis Sanchez on for Rashford: 5 – Struggled down the right and gave away some needless fouls.
Goals from David Silva, Sergio Aguero and Bernardo Silva did the damage as Jose Mourinho’s men succumbed to the fluid, almost unstoppable, City attack.
Here’s what we learned from the Manchester Derby.
STERLING LEADS IMPERIOUS CITY
The past few months have underlined just how good Sterling is. After agreeing a new long-term contract at Man City earlier in the week, the 23-year-old put in a superb display which showcased his main areas of improvement. Passing and movement.
For City’s first goal his cross was weighted perfectly to unlock United’s eight-man defense on the edge of their own box, as he outrageously picked out Bernardo Silva with a stealthy swing of his right boot.
In the past Sterling could be guilty of unnecessary dribbles and wayward passes, but there is now so much more purpose to his play. His improvement under Guardiola in the past two years is stark, with only Mohamed Salah involved in more PL goals than Sterling since the start of last season.
With veterans Aguero and Silva on the scoresheet to help deliver the win, City know their attack is in safe hands for the future as Sterling will lead the likes of Gabriel Jesus, Bernardo Silva, Leroy Sane and Riyad Mahrez in the future. The scary thing is, he still has plenty of room for improvement as he was guilty of not shooting as he tried to set up his teammates.
Add the Manchester Derby to the list of games where United have started slowly this season. That list is now almost longer than Mourinho’s arm as slow starts against Newcastle, Chelsea, Bournemouth and Juventus in recent weeks has seem them rally from losing positions.
Mourinho’s men were no doubt hampered by the loss of Pogba through injury (more on that below) but there’s no doubting that their slow starts must be eradicated if they’re going to have any chance of at least finishing in the top four. Over the course of a 10-month season at home and in Europe, United have to start getting on the front foot at the start of games. The reason they currently sit in eighth place in the Premier League, seven points off the top four, is because they continue to put themselves in poor positions early on.
What is causing them to do this again and again?
Mourinho will ponder that over the international break but it is clear that many of United’s players are tentative from the get-go and that is a surefire sign of not being comfortable with how they are playing and who they are playing alongside. United’s players grow into games and seem to grow in belief after the half time break, and they did that against City as more attacking players coming off the bench gave them fresh impetus. However, there are only so many times you can launch a comeback and United looked jaded due to their recent heroics and the wizardry of City’s attackers.
Man City’s Brazilian goalkeeper is superb with his feet and he commands his area with ease. But over the past few weeks he has got it wrong. Big time. On Sunday he raced out of his goal and took down Romelu Lukaku to concede a penalty kick in a carbon copy of the PK he gave away last week against Southampton as he took out Danny Ings.
Ederson was visibly upset with his mistake and although Pep Guardiola tried to get his head up and applaud him from the sidelines, some of City’s technical staff in the stand were far from impressed with “Eddie” for another rash decision to rush off his line. Ederson is a forward-thinking goalkeeper and that is exactly what Guardiola wants in his way of playing. But if Ederson continues to make costly errors, a sense of shakiness could impact City’s defenders. Those are the small things which add up and Ederson’s decision making has to be a little better than it has been in recent weeks.
POGBA, DE BRUYNE BADLY MISSED
Two players who can turn a game on its head in an instance were missing for the Manchester Derby through injury and it was a such a shame. Sure, this encounter was a very good spectacle. But with KDB and Pogba, you always know a moment of magic via an outstanding pass or sensational goal are just around the corner.
The midfield battle was a little too predictable on Sunday, with Fernandinho clogging up the gaps and the two Silva’s buzzing around ahead of him playing short passes. For United, the trio of Marouane Fellaini, Ander Herrera and Nemanja Matic did their job but they all struggled to get up and support Marcus Rashford in attack the way Pogba does with his rangy, slaloming runs. De Bruyne and Pogba being back fit and available for the next Manchester Derby will give this intriguing, feisty clash yet another layer.