Manchester United saw their fine home unbeaten run come to end on Sunday as neighbours Manchester City beat them 2-1 at Old Trafford.
The visitors hogged most of the possession from the word go as Manchester United looked to employ similar counterattacking tactics that worked so well against Arsenal last weekend. But, Pep Guardiola’s men sliced open their defence with ease at times, although without much of an end product till the fag end of the first half.
The deadlock was finally broken in the 42nd minute as Romelu Lukaku headed the ball towards an unmarked David Silva, who made no mistake to score past David De Gea. But, the hosts struck back almost immediately as Marcus Rashford capitalised on a lapse in concentration by Fabian Delph.
The joy didn’t last long for Manchester United post half-time though, as City restored their lead through another defensive error by Lukaku – this time a failed clearance attempt that ricocheted off Chris Smalling towards Nicolas Otamendi, who found the back of the net with an acrobatic attempt.
— Manchester United (@ManUtd) December 10, 2017
Both sides did come close to scoring again in the final half an hour, but the score remained 2-1 in City’s favour to hand them a record 14th successive Premier League win and what looks like an unassailable 11-point lead at the top of the table. The Hard Tackle now runs the rule over Jose Mourinho’s men.
David De Gea: 7/10
A major reason why the scoreline wasn’t as embarrassing as it could have been. De Gea made two fine saves to keep his side in the game till the end, denying Leroy Sane and Kevin De Bruyne. But, he couldn’t have done anything to stop either goal, with poor clearance attempts rendering him helpless.
2 – Manchester United have conceded two goals at Old Trafford in the Premier League for just the second time under Jose Mourinho (also conceding two v Man City in September 2016). Flashback.
— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) December 10, 2017
Antonio Valencia: 6/10
With Manchester United defending for the most part on the night, Valencia was slightly out of his comfort zone on the night, although he measured up well against the threat of Sane and Gabriel Jesus. More disappointingly for him, he failed to test a nervy Fabian Delph whenever he did have the ball, with the hosts failing to stitch a decent play.
Chris Smalling: 6/10
Smalling had a busy night at the heart of defence, with the rotating pair of Gabriel Jesus and Raheem Sterling keeping his hands full. But, his mobility came in handy for large parts of the game as he kept the duo in check. He struggled to play out balls from the back though, and often backed up too much to give De Bruyne and Fernandinho a free pass to take long-range shots.
Marcos Rojo: 6/10
Rojo has been off to a slow start since returning from knee injury, and it was more of the same on Saturday, with Sterling giving him a lot of trouble and pulling him out of position. He did make one crucial block though, and had a role to play in his side’s goal as his diagonal ball found its way towards Rashford.
His night ended early, with the Argentine sustaining a head injury in the first half, and was replaced at half-time by Victor Lindelof.
Ashley Young: 5/10
Like Valencia, Mourinho’s tactics did not play to his strengths as he had to deal with the nippy Sane and Sterling all through the night. His defensive shortcomings came to the fore, and the same translated to confidence with the ball as Young was sloppy with the ball at times. A night to forget for the veteran.
Ander Herrera: 5/10
Adequately replacing Pogba’s impact in the side was always going to be a tall order for Herrera, especially going forward. But, he struggled to perform his primary duties effectively either, struggling to contain David Silva and Kevin De Bruyne.
When he did get the ball, the Spaniard looked clueless, failing to provide any urgency by moving it at a quick pace. A miserable outing was capped off by a booking late into the match.
Nemanja Matic: 6/10
One of the few Manchester United players who cut a composed figure on the night. Unlike his partner in midfield, Matic did well to keep De Bruyne quiet for large parts of the game and when he did get the ball, the Serb stood equal to the quick pressing of the opposition. But, he needed more support.
Marcus Rashford: 7/10
Rashford’s half by numbers vs. Man City:
1 dribble completed
1 aerial duel won
— Statman Dave (@StatmanDave) December 10, 2017
Rashford rarely got an opportunity to showcase his abilities, with City dominating the proceedings. He certainly was the sharpest attacking outlet for the hosts though, and his persistence paid off when he a lapse in concentration by Delph enabled him to finish well past Ederson. Otherwise, he had to play the waiting game on a frustrating night.
Jesse Lingard: 6/10
Perhaps the only Manchester United attacker who pressed enough to heap some sort of pressure on the City defence. Lingard ran and ran and ran, but to little effect, and his eagerness went against him too, with Fernandinho turning into a deep lying playmaker at times thanks to the space that was afforded to him.
Anthony Martial: 6/10
It was a long night for Martial, who barely had a touch on the ball in the first half, and only burst into life when his side amped up the pressure in the final 15 minutes. The Frenchman looked far more threatening on the left flank than on the right, which restricts his abilities considerably.
Romelu Lukaku: 4/10
“He’s not doing enough in games – I hate saying it – to justify his fee. Two in 13 now but in his defence with some of the balls & some of the service he was feeding on scraps. Everything seems a second too slow & by the time he’s made his mind up it’s gone.”
– Shearer on Lukaku pic.twitter.com/szYpNK0pAQ
— United Xtra (@utdxtra) December 11, 2017
A night to forget for Lukaku, in what was his worst performance in a Manchester United shirt. Apart from the two horrendous errors that led to both of City’s goals, the Belgian’s profligacy came back to haunt him as he missed two fantastic chances to score, one of which he hit directly at Ederson.
It wasn’t all bad for Lukaku though, as his hold up play looked much improved, although that was just a minor positive in a nightmarish outing.
Victor Lindelof: 6/10
Lindelof replaced Rojo at half-time and was an instant upgrade on the Argentine. The Swede was oozing with confidence that has built up over the last month, and he was composed enough to completely negate the threat of Gabriel Jesus.
— Statman Dave (@StatmanDave) December 11, 2017
He was superb on the ball as well, with his distribution from the back creating counterattacking opportunities. Likely to continue at the heart of defence now.
Zlatan Ibrahimovic: 5/10
The star striker replaced Lingard for the final 25 minutes as Mourinho employed the long ball tactics in search of the equaliser. While Ibrahimovic did hold the ball well, he could not create a lot of impact apart from creating an opening late into the game.
Juan Mata: N/A
On for the home stretch in the game, Mata got into good positions and create a couple of chances while himself having a shot at Ederson. But, he could not get enough of the ball to create a sustained impact.