Four things we learned from Man City v. Man United

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MANCHESTER — Manchester City beat Manchester United 3-1 at the Etihad Stadium on Sunday, with Pep Guardiola‘s men moving 12 points ahead of United in the process and regaining their spot atop the Premier League table.

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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.


SLOW START FOR UNITED ONCE AGAIN

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.


RASH EDERSON

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.

The 2 Robbies: Emotions at Leicester; Spurs just keep winning

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Robbie Mustoe and Robbie Earle discuss the big talking points from a busy Saturday in the Premier League. They reflect on an emotional day for everyone at the King Power Stadium (01:00), respond to an infuriated Charlie Austin as a refereeing decision denied Southampton three points (08:00), explore Spurs and their progress this season (19:33), then end with big opinions on in-form Raheem Sterling (30:00).

Join Earle & Mustoe on The 2 Robbies Football Show, Saturdays at 5pm ET. Listen on the NBCSports Radio App and call 855-323-4622 in the U.S. for lively passionate debate.

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Follow them on Twitter @The2Robbies

Southampton furious after ‘joke’ offside decision

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Southampton striker Charlie Austin was not a happy man after their 1-1 draw with Watford on Saturday at St Mary’s.

When 1-0 up in the second half Saints had a goal chalked out for offside by the officials, led by referee Simon Hooper, as Austin’s shot was deflected and found the back of the net.

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However, after a minute or so of confusion the goal was disallowed as Saints’ Maya Yoshida, in an offside position, was adjudged to have interfered with play. Yoshida didn’t attempt to go towards the ball and none of Watford’s players remonstrated with the officials as Yoshida wasn’t close to the ball. The Japanese defender said afterwards that “the referee realized they got it wrong. I heard that he said that.”

Speaking to the TV cameras after the game about the decision, a furious Austin didn’t mince his words.

“It’s ridiculous, they shouldn’t be in the game. We scored a perfectly good goal that was ruled out for offside. The officials cost us two points,” Austin said. “They said it was offside, that is a joke. People go on about VAR, they clearly need help. If this is the best, most-watched league in the world then give them all the help they need. It is a joke. Sure there are many positives, we worked hard, we deserved three points and we would have got that had we not been let down by the official. We feel like we have been let down. We started well, worked hard to be up 1-0 at half-time and we stuck to the plan. We didn’t get beat but we should have gotten away with three points going into the international break. The performance was there, we can take that away and we should manage the game. I’m angry is what it is, we should have won 2-0.”

It is safe to say that Austin could potentially be banned and fined for airing his strong views about the officials. But was he incorrect to call out the incorrect decisions? You can hardly disagree with his facts but the manner of his complaints may see him in trouble.

His manager, Mark Hughes, agreed totally with Austin and had a few more minutes to compose himself before hammering the officials further.

“It is not good enough, the performance of the referee,” Hughes told BBC Sports. “All we want in a game is the key match-defining moments to be correct. It is a skill, a talent and a referee has to have that or they won’t be at this level. The ref today is a little inexperienced. At 2-0 the game is over. It is unfortunate and a bad mistake. He admitted it on the pitch. I mean for goodness sake, he needed a bit of help. These decisions affect what we are trying to do here. People will say they should have had a penalty, it doesn’t matter. Our keeper could’ve saved it. Our goal went in and was ruled out. At 2-0 we could manage the game out, the momentum when the goal was chalked off went to them.”

Hooper was officiating his fourth game in the PL all-time and just his second this season and it appears his assistant referee was the one who called him over after Austin’s goal.

Saints are struggling just outside of the relegation zone with one win in their 12 games so far this season as they’ve now gone eight matches without victory and they’ve won just once in the last 12 months at home.

In truth, they should have conceded a penalty kick when Ryan Bertrand took down Nathaniel Chalobah moments before the Austin no-goal, so you could say these things even themselves out.

But they were two poor decisions and Southampton can rightly feel that if they had gone 2-0 up with 25 minutes to go, the game would be done and dusted.

The frustration from Austin and Hughes caps a tough week for Southampton as a whole, as Vice Chairman Les Reed was fired and so too was Technical Director Martin Hunter as Saints continue to struggle after near relegation last season.

Hughes and his players put in a solid display against Watford but they’ve now drawn five (the most draws of any club in the PL) of their 12 games this season and look destined for another relegation scrap.

Controversy runs through Southampton draw with Watford

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  • Gabbiadini puts hosts ahead
  • Watford denied PK shout
  • Saints have Austin goal ruled out
  • Holebas ties it

Jose Holebas’ deflected 82nd minute strike salvaged a point for Watford against Southampton on Saturday.

Manolo Gabbiadini had given Saints a first half lead, and both teams were denied goals before Holebas’ marker.

The point gained gives Watford 20, and 7th place. Southampton is 17th with 8 points.

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Saints took a lead from a surprising source, well, as surprising as a striker goal can be for a viewer.

Gabbiadini took advantage of a Roberto Pereyra miscue and hammered a shot home for 1-0.

Striker Danny Ings left the match with an injury in the 40th minute, replaced by Charlie Austin.

Watford’s second half began well, and the Hornets believed they’d won a penalty when Nathaniel Chalobah was taken down by Nathan Redmond. No call came, however, and it was a fortunate let-off for Saints.

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Maya Yoshida had a hard shot deflected out for a Saints corner, their fifth of the game, in the 63rd minute.

Austin looked to have made good on Southampton’s threats in the 66th, but it was pulled back while Saints were deep in celebration.

Watford found its equalizer when a ball fell to Holebas outside the 18, and his shot took a wicked turn to beat Alex McCarthy.

Gabbiadini curled a ball into the hands of Ben Foster moments later.

At the half: Newcastle, Huddersfield, Southampton all lead at home

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It’s been a great first 45 minutes for teams at the bottom of the table as relegation-threatened Newcastle, Huddersfield Town, and Southampton all lead at home. The visitors had all yet to break through until Bournemouth pegged Newcastle one back just before the break.

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Huddersfield Town 1-0 West Ham

The home side has been dominant, with West Ham giving the ball away in its own half on the regular. Alex Pritchard scored six minutes in, and the Hammers have yet to respond. Steve Mounie has hit the crossbar twice, as the visitors can consider themselves lucky not to be down by more.

Newcastle United 2-1 Bournemouth

Solomon Rondon has a first-half double as the Magpies have struggled at times but took their chances well. Bournemouth pulled one back just before the break as Jefferson Lerma struck six minutes deep into first-half injury time. The visitors will also have concern for Adam Smith who was stretchered off in the first half with a non-contact injury that led to the significant added time.

Southampton 1-0 Watford

Manolo Gabbiadini scored his first Premier League goal since May and Southampton looks to pull away from the relegation zone. Danny Ings came off injured close to the end of the opening 45.

Leicester City 0-0 Burnley

In the first home game since the death of owner Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha, Leicester City had emotion on its side early on and put that to good use. Jamie Vardy had an effort cleared off the line in the best chance of the first half, but Burnley has held firm to this point.