Saturday’s Premier League highlight featured the Manchester derby, with Manchester City playing hosts to neighboring Manchester United. The bragging rights and the symbolic color of the city was solidly in the hands of the home team Man City, with two consecutive Premier League titles and also two consecutive derby victories. But as it goes in English football, you are only as good as your last game – and Manchester United painted the town red with an impressive 1-2 victory.
Manchester City, who won the famous treble last season by taking the Carabao Cup and FA Cup trophies home in addition to Premier League title, has struggled immensely this season. They have now lost four times, matching the number of losses of the whole of last season. Their well-oiled attacking machine is still going strong as they’ve scored the most goals in the league, 44 which is 2.75 per game. The defense has been problematic, although not entirely catastrophic, allowing 19 goals in 16 games, 1.19 per game which is tied fifth in the league. Kun Agüero has scored nine times, while Raheem Sterling has improved to eight goals.
After the loss to Manchester United, City is now 14 points behind leaders Liverpool and six points behind 2nd placed Leicester. The leeway to fifth United is still eight points, while Chelsea is breathing down their neck within three points. As the manger Pep Guardiola put it: ”Maybe Manchester City might not be able to compete with top teams.”
While the morale at Manchester City’s side of town seems to be at all-time low, the other side rejoice. There had not been many positives for the red team of Manchester as of late, with bad result after another and seemingly no improvement on sight. The team succumbed to draws with the likes of Aston Villa and Sheffield United. But then Jose Mourinho returned to Old Trafford, in charge of another crisis team Tottenham, and the tide suddenly turned. Even if Spurs were absolutely horrendous for the most of the game, Manchester United were able to move the ball efficiently, defend as a unit and score two goals – albeit the second one from a penalty – to win the game. That victory just might prove to be a turning point for Manchester United’s season.
Rarely has Manchester derby been predicted to be as lopsided as it was on Saturday. Based on average odds, City went into the game with almost 80% favorites to win, while Manchester United was given a meager 10% chance – if that. Manchester City took control from the kick-off and held the ball for most of the match, but it was United scoring the goals. Frustrated City kept banging their head on the brick wall while the visitors kept their composure defensively and never gave their rivals a chance to get into the game. After 90 minutes, David had beaten Goliath – or Ole had beaten Pep.
And suddenly, Manchester United has not lost in five of their last EPL games, they’re within a striking distance of Champions League qualification spots and have already qualified for Europa League knockout stages this season. Moreover, Paul Pogba is nearing a return from injury and soon the transfer window is open again. It seems that the crisis of Manchester United is averted, at least for a while. That’s what winning a derby does to you.