Three talking points as Manchester City's victory over Manchester United kept them on course for the title
Manchester City extended their lead at the top of the Premier League to 11 points thanks to a derby-day victory over nearest challengers Manchester United. David Silva had given Pep Guardiola’s men a first-half advantage at Old Trafford before Marcus Rashford equalised on the stroke of half-time.
But City always looked the more likely winners and they restored their lead through an unlikely source when Nicolas Otamendi powered a loose ball into the net. Romelu Lukaku had a great chance to rescue a point late on but his snapshot was saved at point-blank range by Ederson, who then denied Juan Mata in the aftermath.
Here are three talking points as Manchester City’s seemingly inexorable march to the title continued.
Unstoppable City are already the champions-elect
This match was billed as an opportunity for United to derail City’s ambitions by closing the gap to five points. Instead, the Cityzens recorded their 14th straight Premier League victory and maintained their 100 per cent record on their travels to reinforce their tag as title favourites.
The gap between them and their chasers already looks to be insurmountable. This was City’s fourth straight 2-1 win in the top-flight, a string of results that has shown a different side to their play. Despite being shorn of the suspended Paul Pogba, United still had the quality to cause their ‘noisy neighbours’ problems and manager Jose Mourinho named attacking players with pace and power in the starting XI.
However, City were the dominant force throughout. Their ability to be find ways of winning tight matches recently stood them in good stead for this fixture and although the goals themselves were unusually scrappy, the result was much deserved.
Jose Mourinho outfoxed by his nemesis once more
The match statistics underlined how dominant City had been. Fourteen shots to eight, eight corners to two and 65% of possession to 35%. But Jose Mourinho used his post-match interview to complain about referee Michael Oliver’s decision not to award a penalty when Ander Herrera went down after a challenge from Otamendi.
Herrera was booked for diving, but Mourinho believed it to have been a foul, despite footage appearing to show no contact between the two. It is a trademark Mourinho tactic to deflect attention from a damaging result, one he has used many times before.
He will be greatly annoyed that, once again, Guardiola has emerged triumphant in the personal battle between the two rivals. United have been very strong at home under Mourinho and this was their first defeat at Old Trafford in 15 months when, you’ve guessed it, City defeated them.
Ederson fulfilling Guardiola’s demands
He is something of an unsung hero in the City team, but there is no doubt that goalkeeper Ederson has had an extraordinary impact since joining from Benfica last summer. Twelve months earlier, Guardiola had signed Claudio Bravo from Barcelona to much fanfare, after axing England keeper Joe Hart.
While Bravo was adept with his feet, as the Spanish manager demands, his handling and shot-stopping left much to be desired and he was quickly jettisoned. Ederson, though, has proved to be the perfect replacement. As well as being comfortable enough on the ball to fulfil Guardiola’s instructions, he commands his goal and makes crucial saves when required.
His double stop to deny Lukaku and Juan Mata from point-blank range involved a touch of fortune but also great instincts and bravery to spread himself. It is those moments on which the destination of the title can hinge. City owe a lot to Ederson for the improvement in their performances and results.
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