Manchester City 3-1 Manchester United: Three Things We Learned

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Manchester United managed to get the early lead in the Manchester Derby, they persisted in keeping an active scoreline for 80 minutes of the match, but in the end fell to Manchester City 3-1 in an interesting Etihad battle. Marcus Rashford’s early goal was enough for Erik Ten Hag’s side to have the lead at half-time, but a fierce second-half performance from the champions had seen them score three, with Phil Foden being the key man with his brace to turn the things around. Here is what we learned from this match.

Ten Hag’s Odd Tactics Worked For The Most Part

Manchester United approached the match against Manchester City with a tactical setup that diverged from their usual approach this season. Despite the eventual outcome, Erik ten Hag’s decision to adopt this strategy was entirely justified. In essence, this was a 4-2-4-0 formation, with Garnacho, McTominy, Fernandes and Rashford being the players up front, but none of them actually playing as a striker.

Recognizing they were unlikely to dominate possession at the Etihad, United opted for a defensive stance, prioritising solidity at the back and looking to exploit opportunities on the counterattack. This strategic choice was undeniably the right one given the circumstances. The plan yielded positive results for a significant portion of the match. However, the formidable talent of City’s Phil Foden ultimately proved decisive, as he demonstrated his ability to conjure goals seemingly out of thin air. United’s deviation from their usual style was a calculated gamble, and while it didn’t yield the desired outcome, it showcased a willingness to adapt and innovate in pursuit of success.

Onana Keeps Improving

The goalkeeper from Cameroon hasn’t had the smoothest transition to Manchester United, but recent performances post-Africa Cup of Nations have shown significant improvement. This was especially evident in his display against Manchester City. He played a pivotal role in keeping United competitive for the majority of the match. While there might be room for improvements, particularly in dealing with Phil Foden’s second goal, overall, his performance was commendable and contributed to a solid outing for the team. Hopefully he will keep building on these recent performances.

Rashford With Ups And Downs

Marcus Rashford, who netted the impressive opening goal, experienced a rollercoaster of emotions throughout the game. While his early strike demonstrated his ability to produce moments of brilliance, the remainder of his performance left much to be desired. Rashford seemed to struggle notably against the defensive prowess of Kyle Walker, with the English full-back exerting significant pressure on him throughout the match. This was particularly evident in the sequence leading up to Phil Foden’s first goal. While Rashford undoubtedly possesses immense talent, his inconsistency remains an issue. While flashes of his qualities are promising, they must translate into more consistent and complete performances for him to reach his full potential, especially as United want to build their future around him.

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