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What We Learned: Manchester United 1-2 Manchester City – Premier League 2016/17

That’s a horrible feeling, losing the Derby. But what a second 45 minutes of football. The adrenaline is going, my heart is racing and I can’t quite get my head around what has just happened. From a football perspective, that is why this League is the best in the world. Here is what we learned today.

Mkhitaryan, Pogba, and Lingard

It’s fair to start with the three that were a hindrance throughout. In the case of Henrikh Mkhitaryan, it’s simply that he isn’t adjusted to the pace of the league, that then will have been a huge eye opener. Jesse Lingard had an absolute nightmare. I feel for the lad, he isn’t the best player we have but is definitely better than what he showed today. Both players were woeful in the first half, and the lack of pressing from Mkhitaryan for what concluded with the first City goal sums it up. But it was a big risk playing two players only recently back from injury. Paul Pogba played today, honestly. He was just anonymous for most. Barring one or two flashes he really contributed very little on a day his side needed him.

Blind and Bailly unstuck

It’s always been a risk playing Daley Blind at Centre Half, that risk was well and truly pounced upon by City today. He deserves credit, until this afternoon he had been performing exceptionally well in the role but he cost United the game with two atrocious pieces of defending. It’s hard to deny that Chris Smalling puts his head through the ball before de Bruyne gets his foot to it, and then I’d like to think he’d be out a lot quicker than Blind was for the second. It was a horror show all told.

United were their own worst enemies

It’s difficult to be all that positive in light of a defeat, and as such I’m going to the negative side in my analysis. That first half was worse than anything we were made to watch last season, nobody (with the exception of Marouane Fellaini and Antonio Valencia) showed any kind of will to make a tackle or be the one to take a risk. It showed with the first goal, no pressure on the ball in the City half when time and again Bravo made mistakes when he was put under the cosh. It was desperate and utterly disgusting. The second half was far better, but the damage was done and it was a tall order.

Conclusion

What a game. Yes, United have lost, but put yourself in the shoes of a neutral and it was pulsating stuff. Mark Clattenburg had an utterly vile game, failing to send both Nicolas Otamendi (a scissor action when the ball was gone) and Claudio Bravo (call me biased, but studs first in the midfield would be a foul so why not in the area?) off and generally giving nothing the way of the home side. But United cannot blame the ref for the result. Rooney grew into the game so to not praise him would be very unfair on the captain, Marouane Fellaini too. He was the best player in red for the first half and continued to be a force in the second half. They should have scored more, nearly chances came thick and fast but the game isn’t played on near chances. Ander Herrera was exceptional when he came on, and Marcus Rashford struck the fear of God into the City defence. It’s gutting to lose, but it’s only four games in. The bricks are falling into place and it’s there to be seen. On to the Europa League Thursday. I can’t wait.

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