Final Score: United 4 - City 2
United: 4-1-4-1 (4-3-3 variation)
What a superb Manchester Derby! The first half was filled with entertaining attacking football. In the first half, I was a little surprised with the more than usual conservative approach by City. What worked really well about their tactics to begin with was City’s underneath forward (Milner majority of time) stayed right on Carrick at all times. This allowed City to not let Carrick control the tempo of the game and connect passes which he does so well. United wasn’t controlling the game in first 15-20 minutes and a lot was because they weren’t getting Carrick on ball. However, as the game grew after City's goal this tactic became less consistent. City's goal in the 8th minute was an impressive slipped ball in from Milner to Silva who then calmly squared it to Aguero. After that goal though the game certainly changed because Carrick dictated a bit more and United was able to exploit the left flank. Blind and Young were rampant on that side actually all game. In the 14th minute, Young made great near post run and Blind picked him out brilliantly… first chance, first goal! The second goal also came down the left and in the 26th when Fellaini got off the shoulder of Clichy on the back post, who got caught under the ball. United was able to utilize the left wing again as well as the mismatch in height of Clichy on Fellaini. For me, the tall Demichelis could have switched with the shorter Clichy on Fellaini in the build up to the goal. This was poor communication and organization clearly from City defenders.
Other notes in the half were that De Gea was very impressive off his line and acted terrifically as a sweeper to clean up passes in behind. City seemed most dangerous when they played forward quickly and looked to play Aguero into space.
What I would say at half-time for City would be to continue to look for Aguero in space as quickly as possible. Continue to break quickly. They should like their chances with Aguero 1 vs. 1 with either Smalling or Jones. Second, would be to defensively get more stability down that left side. Maybe put Milner in the right midfield spot, put Silva underneath Aguero, and bring on new left midfielder. I know Pelligrini loves Navas, but Navas hasn’t scored this year and couldn’t see it coming from him in second half.
In the second half, City looked weary and defensively very sluggish. As a team, they didn’t pressurize as well as usual this season (confidence factor), didn’t close people down in their own defensive third (major mistake), and there was a clear poor partnership between Demichelis and Mangala. As the half grew, it was visible that defenders were backing off Young which was not a positive. In the ’67th minute United once again score down the left side! It was great combination between Mata (who ran vertically unmarkerd) and Rooney. There was no shift across in the backline by Clichy and Mangala who needed to shift over and cover the pulled out Demichelis. Then Mangala let Rooney do a 360 degree turn in the middle of the field to play Mata! You cannot have that!!!
Forth United goal was a classic whipped in set-piece by Young into a completely unmarked Smalling. Really poor defending. Mangala even kept everyone onside. Ended up being a terrible sub. Aguero did salvage some pride with an '88th minute tap in. Incisive pass by Lampard.
I think going forward this might be the beginning of the end for Pelligrini. This was a pretty damaging Manchester Derby loss. Hard to exactly pinpoint where positionly City need to strengthen but for me I'd say Mangala and Demichelis (and maybe Kompany after many performances during this last month or so) won't win you a title at center back.