Following a dramatic win in Turin, Jose Mourinho‘s boys headed to the East side of Manchester to face Pep Guardiola. But even after beating Juventus, this was a daunting task. Perhaps taking three points from the European giants was enough to give fans misguided hope that they could beat City. Alas, the game finished Manchester City 3-1 Manchester United, and the gap at the top of the league grew. Our authors share their thoughts on the match using statistics in this roundtable discussion.
The derby perfectly encapsulated the gap between the red and blue halves of Manchester. Guardiola’s side pulled United this way and that, while the Red Devils struggled to string three passes together. The most damning stat is the fact that United had just *one* shot on target – Martial‘s penalty. That shows just how far United have to go to match the likes of City, and it seems unlikely that it will happen as long as Mourinho is in charge.
The gulf in class between the Premier League champions and Jose Mourinho’s Manchester United side was never as apparent as in the opening twelve minutes of the derby. Without Paul Pogba in the squad, Mourinho fielded Nemanja Matic and Marouane Fellaini alongside Ander Herrera and the midfield looked painfully outclassed by Pep Guardiola’s silken-touched midfielders (barring Fernandinho). The first Manchester United outfield player to touch the ball was Marouane Fellaini and it was close to two minutes into the game. When David Silva scored the opening goal after 12 minutes, the champions had completed 96 passes to United’s five.
As I said, the gulf in class.
It was as huge as the difference between what Manchester City’s sponsors actually pay to what is shown to the footballing authorities.
Saying Manchester City held 65% of possession should tell you enough about how the derby went. Telling you they recorded 700 passes to United’s 380 won’t come as a surprise to anyone who watched the game. What’s even scarier is that City owned possession in all the right areas, without pressure. Guardiola’s men only made 88 passes in their defensive third. In the mid-third, 420 were made and in the final third, 242. But then again, with a midfield trio slower than molasses, wasn’t this inevitable? United put City under no pressure for 90 minutes. City scored a goal after 44 passes in a row. But it’s not much to boast about if you’re playing against statues. Where has the passion gone?