Monday, April 8, 2013

City beats United at Old Trafford

Manchester City entered their regular season Manchester Derby played in the red half of Manchester trailing United by 15 points with just eight matches to play.  Thus no matter what happened in the match, United will most likely win the EPL.  That made this Manchester Derby more of a litmus test on City manager Roberto Mancini's ability to motivate his team since there are rather loud rumblings emanating from the dressing room that players are becoming increasingly frustrated with Mancini's managerial approach.

The opening 45 minutes turned out to be quite entertaining despite ending with a 0-0 scoreline.  City midfielder James Milner put the visitors ahead with a thunderous strike that benefited from a slight deflection off a United defender to beat United keeper David de Gea.  United defender Phil Jones pulled United level by heading a ball that looked destined for goal away from goal but fortuitously into City defender Vincent Kompany's back en route to the back City's net.

With the score tied 1-1 it looked like City might go into a shell and possibly even lose their first match of the season after leading until substitute Sergio Aguero's impressive individual effort.  Aguero summoned memories of his title clinching strike from last season against QPR to put City up 2-1 with less than 15 minutes left in the match.

Things got chippy toward the end of the match with five yellow cards getting issued following Aguero's strike: two for United (Rafael and Antonio Valencia) and three for City (Carlos Tevez, Gareth Barry, and Pablo Zabaleta) but the score line finished 2-1.

Who can forget the beat down City put on United at Old Trafford last seasonThat means thanks to their win last season (6-1) and this seasons (2-1), City prevailed at Old Trafford in consecutive years for the first time in 41 years.

In typical "Sir" Alex Ferguson fashion, the United manager blamed the referees for the result claiming that Milner's opener should have been disallowed due to City players being in an offside position.  As usual, Ferguson looks like the petty little man that is nitpicking things instead of taking the high road despite the fact that his club is almost assured to win the EPL this season.

City possessed the ball for 60% of the match thanks to completing over 100 more passes than United according to Opta.  Thus even the more biased United supporters would have to admit that City was the better side despite Ferguson's assertions.

Even after defeating United, City still trails United by 12 points with only seven games to play so absent an absolute meltdown it looks like City will finish second after winning the EPL last season.

City now has to focus on the FA Cup. On Saturday Millwall plays Wigan with the winner set to face the winner of Sunday's match between City and Chelsea in the 2013 FA Cup Final on May 11th.  As crazy as it sounds, despite winning the EPL last season and just beating United on the road to essentially guarantee that City will finish no worse than second in the EPL this season, Mancini is still not guaranteed to hold onto his job past this season unless he can hoist the FA Cup for the second time in three seasons.

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