Manchester United held Manchester City to a 0-0 draw to share the spoils in the Manchester Derby. United had a man sent off as Fellaini was red-carded for his head-butt on Aguero. United held on for a draw even with ten men, as Mourinho shut up shop.
City were on the front foot from the very beginning, while United apparently looked to have come into the match hoping for a draw. They created a great chance as Aguero missed the target from point-blank range in the 4th minute when De Gea was beaten. City drilled shots onto the United goal, as Aguero missed a number of great chances, which were mostly off-target and sometimes saved. Kolarov also had a go from long range, as his effort into the bottom corner was well saved by De Gea.
On the opposite side, Bravo scrambled the ball from a United cross, gifting The Red Devils a splendid chance, but he was in the right place to save Mkhitaryan’s rebound. United’s best chance was missed by Herrera, who failed to get his header on target from a Rashford free-kick.
The second half saw City create even more chances. United sat back, trying to thwart the City attack. Blind and Bailly were up to the task as they dealt exceptionally well with everything City threw at them. Aguero, Sterling and De Bruyne created a number of chances but were unlucky to have not found the breakthrough goal. United were dangerous only on the counter, and when the game looked like it could go to any side, there was still some drama left. Fellaini was sent off for his head-butt on Aguero, following a heated exchange between the duo. After the sending off, the situation was pretty difficult for United, who were now even more susceptible to conceding a goal. However, they rallied on to keep the clean sheet and forced City to settle for a draw.
The match, which was completely dominated by City, saw United manage their least possession ever since 2003-04, as they had only 30.8% possession. They only had three shots, compared to City’s 19. With this draw, City are on 65 points while United are on 64 points and are within close range to Liverpool, who sit on 66 points, albeit with a game more played.
Here are the Talking Points from the Match-
Bailly and Blind Save United’s Day
The centre-back duo of Eric Bailly and Daley Blind helped United keep a clean sheet, and most importantly, stay in the match. There were doubts on Blind’s ability to command his position at centre-back, but he hit back at his critics with an exceptional display. His tackles were perfectly timed, while his interceptions thwarted the City attack. Bailly, on the other hand, is destined for a legendary career at United.
City Fail to Capitalise
United came into the match with up to 4 first teamers out through injury. They didn’t have any firepower on the bench either, and since the very beginning looked like playing for a draw. However, despite all that, City failed to capitalise on United’s situation. They had 19 shots to United’s three and had 69.2% possession. They failed to kill off their opposition, which has ironically been an obstacle for United this season. Guardiola would be fuming while Mourinho would be satisfied, particularly with the depleted squad at his disposal. This was a point gained for United, and 2 points lost for City.
Is Fellaini a Liability for United?
Fellaini has had an upturn in fortune this season. The Belgian, who was often booed earlier in the season, has paid back Mourinho’s faith with some commanding displays. As a result, he was rewarded with a one-year extension on his current contract. However, games like these are what matter, and Fellaini has time and again had villainous performances in such crucial games. His moment of madness cost United, as they had no chance left after his sending off. United fans have often been left mind-boggled with his consistent involvement in big games, and would no doubt be happy as it looks like this display could prove costly for his United career.
United Midfield Missed Pogba?
In what could be a ridiculous statement for most critics, United apparently missed Paul Pogba in their midfield. His zest, energy, and strength were what United would’ve needed to alter the course of the match. Carrick and Herrera did a decent job in his absence, but Fellaini had a night to forget. Had Pogba been fit and included in the squad, the game could’ve been very different as United would then have commanded the midfield. His defence-splitting through balls and cross-field passes, which are crucial for counter-attacks, were also sorely missed. United would be praying that Pogba returns as soon as possible, particularly for the must-win clash against Swansea at the weekend.
Crisis Deepens at United
United, who came into the match with only 16 senior outfield players, have more things to worry about now as they lose Fellaini to suspension. Not only him, even Fosu-Mensah will be out for a while, as he dislocated his shoulder in the dying moments of the match. This has left United with only 14 senior outfield players now, and Mourinho would be really worried as he now has a very limited squad at his disposal. He would be having his fingers crossed as he hopes that the injured players come back quickly in the final stage of the season.