Fred was a midfield colossus while Anthony Martial continued his good run, as Manchester United beat Manchester City 2-0 on Sunday.
Manchester City dominated possession right from the get-go, but created precious little from their time on the ball. In fact, it was Manchester United who carried the greater threat in the final third and they duly grabbed the lead at the half hour mark, as Anthony Martial latched on to a lobbed free-kick by Bruno Fernandes, shooting first time to score past Ederson Moraes.
Manchester City pinned Manchester United back for the majority of the second half, but they remained toothless in attack. This was telling in the end as Scott McTominay pounced on a Ederson howler to round the win off.
Manchester United, therefore, remain fifth, three points adrift of Chelsea, who consolidated fourth place on the table by beating Everton 4-0 earlier in the day. The Hard Tackle now runs the rule over Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s men.
David de Gea: 8/10
After the howler against Everton, de Gea needed to be at his best in order to give Manchester United a chance in the game. And, the Spaniard was superb on Sunday, as he made four top class saves to preserve his clean sheet. Pleasantly assured with the ball at his feet, de Gea kept things simple and did not let the error from last week creep in. Crucial.
Victor Lindelof: 8/10
While Harry Maguire and Luke Shaw made nervy starts to the game, Lindelof was consistent all through the game. Along with Maguire, the Swede worked hard to completely negate the influence of the dangerous Sergio Aguero, who was kept quiet in a Manchester derby once again. Precise as ever when moving the ball forward, completing 90 percent of the passes he attempted.
Harry Maguire: 8/10
Maguire had a major hairy moment early in the game as Aguero left him on his backside. However, the Manchester United captain picked himself up after that moment, reading the game incredibly well to ensure the Manchester City striker did not trouble him again in the game.
So good was his reading of the game in fact, that Maguire had to make just one tackle all game after that initial moment. That tackle was a crucial one as he thwarted Gabriel Jesus when the Brazilian was looking to go clean through on goal. At times, a bit loose in possession, but that was only a minor blemish.
Luke Shaw: 8/10
Like Maguire, Shaw did not get off to the best of starts, inexplicably being tentative with time on the ball, as Aguero pounced. Thereafter, though, Shaw was on song, rendering both Phil Foden and Bernardo Silva ineffective. Shifted into the left wing-back role for the final 20 minutes of the game and carried a threat in the final third late on.
Aaron Wan-Bissaka: 9/10
Aaron Wan-Bissaka made more tackles (8) than any other player on the pitch in the Manchester derby.
And not a single player dribbled past him. 🕸 pic.twitter.com/EAI0Red3zP
— Squawka Football (@Squawka) March 8, 2020
Another monstrous defensive performance in a big game. This is starting to become a trend with Wan-Bissaka, who completely dominated his personal duel with Raheem Sterling, dictating where the Manchester City winger went and never allowing his compatriot to get past him. Some of his numbers are just staggering.
Wan-Bissaka completed a game-high 8 tackles and made 8 recoveries while also making three interceptions. Surprisingly looked quite dangerous when bombing forward as well, making a couple of fantastic runs into the Manchester City box. End product still needs work, but that is steadily improving as well. A gem of a player on the right side of the Manchester United defence.
The Fred juggernaut rolls on. Up against Ilkay Gundogan, Fred was pivotal in neutralising the threat of a player who was supposed to pull the strings for Manchester City in the absence of Kevin De Bruyne.
As always, a bundle of energy in the middle of the park, Fred typically put a shift in and even supported Wan-Bissaka in his battle with Sterling. A shocking decision saw him being booked for diving when replays showed that Manchester United should have been awarded a penalty instead.
Nemanja Matic: 8/10
With Ole Gunnar Solskjaer playing just two central midfielders, Matic was picked ahead of Scott McTominay. The Serb vindicated his manager’s decision, though, turning in a solid display in the middle of the park, starting with a superb clean-up job when Aguero had nutmegged Maguire early on.
Thereafter, Matic was brilliant with his positioning, ensuring that Bernardo Silva never got to put the Manchester United defenders under any sort of pressure. As always, showed some silky touches on the ball and kept things simple when connecting with Bruno Fernandes.
Brandon Williams: 7/10
A game of hits and misses, although the positives far outweighed the negatives. A bit nervy to begin with, Williams soon found his feet and worked hard to pin Joao Cancelo back, ensuring that the Portuguese’s usually dangerous deliveries were never to be seen in the game.
Created one decent chance for Anthony Martial in the first half before the Frenchman put Manchester United ahead. Struggled a bit after Riyad Mahrez came on, but there was no harm done as de Gea still kept a clean sheet and Manchester United still won. Showed big-game pedigree and mettle to succeed at the highest level once again.
Bruno Fernandes: 8/10
Yet another Premier League game. Yet another outing wherein Bruno Fernandes had a role to play in a positive result for Manchester United. Rodri was constantly at him, trying to shut him off. But, Fernandes found a way to get past the Manchester City midfielder numerous times.
Despite seeing very little of the ball, Fernandes created a game-high three chances, including the one from which Martial scored. On another day, he might even have celebrated a hat-trick, had Daniel James and Martial showed better decision making inside the Manchester City box. Nonetheless, another crucial display by the January signing.
Daniel James: 7/10
His decision making left a lot to be desired, but James was as key as anyone in ensuring the big win for Manchester United. The Welshman ran himself into the ground, taking the ball as far away from the Manchester United box as possible in order to alleviate the pressure off the defence and midfield and give them a breather now and then.
As for the poor decisions, James on as many as three occasions, had the chance to pick out Bruno Fernandes in a dangerous position in and around the Manchester City box, but was either late with his pass or did not pick his teammate at all. Nevertheless, this was a big performance by James on his return from injury.
Anthony Martial: 8/10
Like James, Martial should have done better in picking out Fernandes in the first half. However, that was the only blotch on an otherwise influential showing. Pressed smartly when Fernandinho and Nicolas Otamendi got on the ball and drove at the duo when he himself had possession. Hurried into a shot and blocked by Otamendi when Williams found him with a fine lobbed pass.
Martial, though, did not make any error when scoring from Fernandes’s quick free-kick. Has now become only the second Manchester United player since Eric Cantona to score in three successive starts in the Manchester derby and the first since Cristiano Ronaldo in 2009-10 to score home and away against Manchester City in a single Premier League season.
Eric Bailly: N/A
On for Williams in the 78th minute, Bailly slotted in the back three and made a couple of big clearances to help see out the win.
Scott McTominay: 7/10
Players who arrive post the 75th minute rarely get rated, but such was McTominay’s impact that he deserves one. Solid in the middle of the park before unleashing a first-time shot from 40 yards out, as Ederson was caught off his line following his poor throw. Wild celebrations kicked in following the goal.
Odion Ighalo: N/A
A late introduction, Ighalo impressed in his cameo, holding up the ball well and seeing the minutes out with aplomb.