Feisty, but cautious and well reserved in their attempts on the goal, Manchester United and Manchester City played a game that will not have pleased the fans that were eager to see a more competitive game.
Not a single shot on target from both rivals in the first period is enough to put the highly anticipated game into perspective.
With the top place in the standings at stake, both teams from Manchester were more concentrated on keeping their nets still. The home side dominated the possession, but failed to utilize the on-ball advantage and put one past Joe Hart.
With everything we have witnessed this afternoon at the Old Trafford, five conclusions are easily drawn after the goalless draw:
- No Aguero, no party
Manchester City striker has begun his rehabilitation process, and is expected to return from his hamstring injury within a month. His absence in Sunday’s derby was more than obvious, as City’s front line lacked the edge and was pretty powerless with Wilfried Bony understudying for the injured Argentine.
The Ivorian striker has started just his eighth game in what has been the 10 largley disappointing months at Manchester City. Without a single shot towards De Gea’s goal, Bony was helpless upfront, hugely short of everything Aguero has to offer. Without the dynamism and penalty box awareness generally more than needed in games such as this one against the fellow title contenders, Wilfried Bony proved to be just a poor imitation of Sergio Aguero who will be sorely missed for the rest of his injury.
- Van Gaal was right, Marcos Rojo is United’s future
Having missed the USA preseason tour, Marcos Rojo was widely tipped for a January move away from Manchester United. In addition to his passport issues, the Argentine defender failed to notify the United medical team about the injury he picked while at international duty, which had angered Louis van Gaal. However, the Dutch manager played down the rumours insisting that Marcos Rojo has a bright future at Manchester United ahead of him.
Returning to the starting line-up for the Manchester derby, the 25-year-old did indeed prove his worth and has stepped up when it was most important. United’s left back completely locked down City’s Kevin de Bruyne, preventing the flamboyant Belgian from making a mark in the Sunday’s game. Marcos Rojo covered a lot of space against Manchester City, playing an important role in helping his teammates locking the most agile player in the last couple of weeks for Manchester City.
- City should sell Yaya Ture
The Ivorian has passed his prime, and this season it is more obvious than ever. Once a player able to solve the entire game with his individual moments of brilliance, Yaya Toure has become impotent force in Pellegrini’s team.
The experienced midfielder is emotionally distraught, as he has confessed to L’Equipe recently that he was disappointed by English media. Opening up in public, Toure spoke of his general disgust towards England and it is most obvious that he simply is not the player he once was. Coming off from a season in which he netted 12 goals for City, the 32-year-old didn’t score a single goal in ten games this season and the fans are starting to feel disgruntled by his poor form.
There are rumours of his possible move to the United States, and selling Yaya Toure would be a smart move as his departure would by all means also restore a positive atmosphere in the squad.
- Anthony Martial has already paid off
The French teenager is already a world-class forward. His arrival to Manchester United has raised quite a few eyebrows, having become the highest paid youngster in Europe following his £36.5 million transfer from Monaco.
Dubbed the new Thierry Henry, the 19-year-old took to the Premier League without any fear. The French winger scored five goals in seven games before the Manchester derby, proving to be an instant hit for the Red Devils. Despite having claimed Martial was bought for his successor, Van Gaal has placed a lot of trust into the lad and it paid off.
Martial caused a lot of problems to City’s defence, Bacary Sagna was unable to stop the young star who showed a great deal of determination and courage entering such a big game. He lacked a polished finish, just like the entire team of Manchester United, but has once again showed huge promise and excitement, creating the best chance of the game in the process.
- Kompany still invaluable to City
The 29-year-old Belgium defender has not started a club game since his calf injury against Juventus on September 15, as he had been relegated to the bench for his team’s last two games against Bournemouth and Sevilla.
It was all due to Manuel Pellegrini who was angry with his team captain playing in Euro 2016 qualifier for Belgium against Israel. Manchester City manager was, however, right to rehabilitate his reliable defender, who once again proved his value to the Citizens backline. Vincent Kompany commanded his defence against Manchester United to repel the attacks and help Joe Hart save his net in the great derby. It all looks quite different with the experienced defender in the team.