Five things we learned from the Manchester derby

Manchester City’s Nicolas Otamendi celebrates scoring his side’s second goal of the game

Manchester City extended their lead at the top of the Premier League to 11 points over across-town rivals Manchester United thanks to two incredibly sloppy and needless goals conceded.

José Mourinho’s men let themselves down with a timid approach in the first half, and atrocious set-piece marking to concede two goals that were preventable.

Here are five things we learnt from Manchester United’s crushing loss to Man City:

Anthony Martial is better suited on the left

By lining up with Marcus Rashford, Jesse Lingard and Anthony Martial behind Romelu Lukaku, Mourinho had to accommodate this attacking set-up with placing the Frenchman on the right-hand side.

Martial is, by far, much more efficient down the left as he can cut inside on his favoured right foot and pose a threat. When he received the ball in the first half, the former Monaco star continually drifted inside and drove at the heart of City’s defence. Rarely did Martial take the ball to byline and cross the ball in down the right.

AS IT HAPPENED: Manchester United v Manchester City

With the French international being on the right, Manchester United’s attacks were not as fluid, as everything was funnelled through the middle of the park, or to Rashford on the left. That lack of width meant that Manchester City were not being stretched on the counter attack, which made it quite comfortable for Pep Guardiola’s team.

Paul Pogba is Manchester United’s midfield

It was, once again, alarming how influential Paul Pogba is on this Manchester United team. At various points throughout the derby, the Red Devils has no way out of their own half, resorting to a hoof ball from Marcos Rojo or Nemanja Matić.

As expected, Ander Herrera failed to put his mark on the game and could not run the game in the way the illustrious Frenchman can. There is a considerable difference in quality between the two players, and so no one is blaming the Spaniard for not doing so.

But Mourinho needs to sort out this midfield and have extra players in his ranks to be able to call upon in times like these. It is not good enough to go into a derby where so much is on the line and then be completely dominated and have no real tactic to come out of their own half or to build possession.

Romelu Lukaku had an afternoon to forget

Romelu Lukaku shocker

Throughout the game, Manchester United’s game plan appeared to be to lump the ball into the Belgian’s path in the hope that he would be able to create something from nothing.

While it is not a bad route out, it becomes very predictable to continually attempt the same thing every time a Manchester City attack broke down. There were times where Lukaku held the ball up very well and brought players into the game, but it did not always work for him.

Lukaku’s performance turned sour as he was at fault for both of Manchester City’s goals after he failed to clear the ball from two set-pieces. It was schoolboy errors that were incredibly needless and cost his team dearly.

He had his chances, especially in the 85th minute where a lovely across-the-face-of-the-box ball was played in by Martial, in which Lukaku should have planted it in the back of the net from six yards. Instead, he fired it straight at Ederson, who made an unbelievable double save to maintain City’s lead.

Lukaku was off the pace all game and should have done far better with the service he was given.

The Belgian has got a reputation in which he does not turn up in the ‘bigger’ games, and he certainly has not done himself any favours in this one. The only threat that Lukaku posed was the threat to his own goal.

Victor Lindelöf handled the occasion well in the second half against Manchester City’s fluent attack

Victor Lindelöf looked resolute in his biggest test yet

At half time, Mourinho decided to take off Marcos Rojo, who was suffering from a nasty challenge with David Silva, and brought on Victor Lindelöf. While the Swede had struggled to adapt to the Premier League, the last few weeks showed promise yet and he was slowly, but surely, understanding the style of English football.

However, throughout his second half, Lindelöf looked comfortable in United’s defence and was delivering some enticing through-balls into the path of Martial, Rashford and Lukaku. It was a far better display than his early season performances, and one that says he does have what it takes to nail down a starting position with time.

Premier League title looks all but lost

After Manchester City took the three points back to the Etihad with them, the gap widened to 11 points. It would take a monumental effort to claw that gap back, especially with the form and style of play the Citizens are in.

Manchester United are not equipped to close that margin, with their best hope of doing so by winning the Manchester derby.

By far and large, this is Guardiola’s title to lose now. They are the Champions-elect and worthy ones at that. City are ruthless while playing the best football in the league – they have every title-winning quality a club would want in abundance.

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