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Manchester City 3 Manchester United 1 | Talking Points

Manchester City overcame a spirited Manchester United to move 12 points clear of their rivals and two points clear at the top of the Premier League.

City dominated the first half and were in total control when David Silva fired them in front after 11 minutes, before Sergio Aguero blasted past David De Gea just after half time.

Anthony Martial stroked home a penalty with half an hour to play after Ederson felled the returning Romelu Lukaku, and United briefly looked like they could salvage another miraculous result at the Etihad.

But Ilkay Gundogan finished a brilliant team move in the closing stages to finally dispatch United and ensured City avoided a repeat of the incredible clash last season.

United go behind again

For the sixth time in their last seven matches, Manchester United conceded the first goal of the game. Having only lost once in that run prior to the trip to the Etihad – at home to Juventus – the players seemed full of belief that they could turn it around once again.

Even after going two down early in the second half, the Red Devils looked inspired. When Anthony Martial stroked home a penalty after Ederson brought down Romelu Lukaku, the comeback appeared a possibility once again.

But on this occasion they lacked the quality or luck that they relied on in previous weeks, and after Ilkay Gundogan finished a glorious team move with a few minutes left, United were finally defeated.



Pogba left out

Both teams made two changes from midweek victories in the Champions League, but the big talk before the game was the absence of Paul Pogba from Manchester United’s squad.

Jose Mourinho said before the game that midfielder Pogba played through the pain barrier having suffered the injury in Turin on Wednesday, but did not give a time scale for the World Cup winner’s return.

Red Devils fans will be hoping that his return will be a matter of days rather than weeks ahead of the busy winter schedule.

City score early again

Manchester City have made a habit of scoring early goals in the Premier League this season and continued that today. On this occasion it was David Silva who broke the deadlock after Bernardo Silva cut back Raheem Sterling’s delicious cross from the left.

Against Pep Guardiola’s tiki taka City side, teams must learn to contain them in the opening exchanges if they are to give themselves a chance of a result. Despite United’s recent history of fightbacks, they were unable to respond on this occasion and will surely rue a disastrous opening 12 minutes, in which they completed only five passes.

Laporte and Stones imperious once again

Though City did not record a clean sheet, Anthony Martial’s second half penalty was only the fifth goal conceded by the Citizens in the Premier League this season.

Much of that momentum has been built around the partnership of John Stones and January signing Aymeric Laporte, who looked assured and always in control against Marcus Rashford and then Romelu Lukaku.

It is many hours since the pairing has conceded a goal from open play (the 2-1 loss at home to Lyon in September), and it appears that Pep Guardiola has finally settled on his first choice centre-back partnership after rotating the two with Vincent Kompany and Nicolas Otamendi up to now.



City and United a class apart?

It was suggested before the game that this was no longer Manchester City’s biggest game of the season, rather the Citizens are now more interested in Liverpool. City’s intensity early on suggested otherwise, but it cannot be ignored that there was a substantial gulf in quality on show between the two sides on Sunday.

United failed to record a shot on target other than Martial’s penalty, and had just 35% possession throughout. The Red Devils continue to struggle to keep clean sheets, but it will be in attack that the Special one will surely be looking to address the most pressing problems after a blunt performance once again.

Sam Hanys

Ipswich Town fan and Loughborough University student.

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