It was an electric beginning and nothing more than you’d expect from a Manchester Derby. The one change was that both teams had questions to answer coming in. It was a back and forth affair for most of the first half with both teams sharing comfortable spells of possession. As the half wore on City began to show their strength by controlling the pace of play and getting very good chances to grab the crucial first goal. As the pace of the game hit its peak, a red card for Chris Smalling, which was a terrible decision and tackle by Smalling (not to mention his stupid first yellow card), was just what City needed for their confidence heading into the locker room. Though United were down a man the pace of the game did not change one bit. As the clock wound down on the first half, City began to attack the United defense with more vigor and it seemed inevitable that City would get a first half goal. It wasn’t meant to be but two late no-calls in the penalty box could have easily gone the other way, but Mike Oliver did not make the calls.
In the second half City came out much like they did to finish the first half with fury and guile. They created chances from both wings, spreading the ball around like the team we are use to watching. It took almost twnety minutes for City to reap the rewards for their efforts at goal with a lovely pass from Yaya to find Clichy making a run into the box. The Frenchman then pulled the ball back and found Aguero in the center of the box to make it 1-0 City. After the goal the game began to open up for City with space beginning to show its self more and more to the attacking players. With the second half winding down and Man U looking to do anything to get a point from this match, City had to batten down the hatches in defense. United had some quality chances to equalize but crucial saves from Hart kept United at bay.
The return of the experience and chemistry to our center back pairing also seemed to aid the City defense today, which was much stronger than it was in previous matches. The defense did get stretched at times, but it looked more organized and confident when defending the strong attack of United. Milner and Navas on the wings were excellent today. Both of their work ethics gave the United defense fits. Navas's ability to win corners for City is crucial at points during matches. Though I'd like to see him get more threatening crosses into the area but corners can be just as useful.
Going forward I think we should tell Clichy 15 minutes before the match that he is going to play because, overall, he had superb game especially in defense. As a whole the team effort today was fantastic. After much scrutiny was given to the team on their response to the recent dip in form, this is just what the doctor ordered. Should we have scored more? Certainly, but grinding out a 1-0 win against fierce rivals can do wonders in the dressing room.
Lots of good performances today, who was your man of the match, Blues?