- United ended City’s dominant run of 21 wins on the trot with a controlled and gutsy display at the Etihad against a City team that huffed and puffed throughout the whole match without creating any clear-cut chances, except in the last 10 minutes when City went more direct. What pleased me most with United’s win today was the fact that they started on the front foot and despite scoring in the 2nd minute, we continued to press high for the first 20 minutes and after being pushed back in the last part of the first half, during the second half, United were arguably the best team on the pitch, passing the ball around with confidence and attacking with a bit of swagger. We were never intimidated by the brilliance shown by this City team during the last three months and this shows how far we have progressed under the guidance of Ole. The team is being prepared to challenge properly for the major honours as from next season and with the right recruitment in key areas in the summer, we have every chance of taking the challenge to the best teams in the country and further than that. I am not being ecstatic because of the result, as that is secondary when you consider the big picture. I am however excited by the tactics the coaching team conceived for this match and by the controlled performance of the players. They were up for it and worked hard for each other.
- A clean sheet against this Manchester City team in this form is not a minor feat. The holding midfielders – Fred and McTominay – were energetic and protected the back four to great effect. The back four were rock solid and the commanding performance of Maguire stood out for me. He led his teammates with example and never panicked when we were under pressure. The full-backs were fantastic. Wan Bissaka confirmed in front of the watch of the England manager that he has no parallels in the country in terms of defending, particularly in one-on-one situations. Shaw on the other hand continued where he left off in February and went even one better against City by scoring a crucial goal in the second half with a left foot shot inside the side netting. The defence functioned so well today and maybe there’s a hint of being more confident as a unit. Could that be because of the introduction of young Dean Henderson? He came in for De Gea in the last two matches and collected two clean sheets from two. Against City, he was on his toes consistently and although he did not have to make spectacular saves, Henderson gives the impression that he is always in control and that feeling could be rubbing off his defenders. Henderson is not the finished product but he’s getting there quickly. One area where everyone would feel that there is an improvement over De Gea is surely the way he comes out for crosses with regularity, which is something that relieves the pressure when needed. If he continues in this vein, it will be difficult for De Gea to reclaim his number one jersey from Henderson.
- Special mention today for Anthony Martial. I have been a critic of him this season, particularly when his body language seems that he is not bothered. Today however, Anthony played a blinder and apart from winning a penalty in the first minute, he was key to help the team to keep possession by protecting the balls that were played to him from defence. I appreciate how he time and time again got back in our own half to receive the ball and keep it till his teammates made their way up the pitch. It was a man-of-the-match performance and long may these continue. Kudos where it’s due.
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Article contributed by Contributor Roderick. Comments are appreciated on our Facebook page.