Man Utd and Man City in drab Manchester derby draw
Jamie Clark, Sports Editor | October 25, 2015
Manchester United 0-0 Manchester City
- Rare stalemate on derby day sees honours even
- Point for Man City takes them top ahead of Arsenal on goal difference
- Man Utd two points behind joint Premier League leaders
Spoils shared in dismal derby
Caution and decent defending are not words that could be used to describe recent previous Manchester derbies, but an Old Trafford stalemate saw Man City return to the Premier League summit and brought hosts United within two points of their neighbours.
Whilst excitement has been high on the agenda in this footballing city amid high-profile arrivals and big money buys, it was perhaps the absence of star Sky Blues striker Sergio Aguero and creator-in-chief David Silva that meant they drew a blank.
Louis van Gaal made one change to the Red Devils XI that drew with Spartak Moscow in midweek, with Juan Mata restored to the supporting cast in place of Jesse Lingard.
That meant places on the bench again for defensive duo Daley Blind and Matteo Darmian, while Memphis Depay and Marouane Fellaini were more forward-thinking subs at Man Utd’s disposal.
City coach Manuel Pellegrini, meanwhile, had three alterations to his side which beat Sevilla in Champions League action late on. Aleksandar Kolarov and Vincent Kompany came into the back four with Eliaquim Mangala and Pablo Zabaleta dropping out, plus Fernando Reges replaced Jesus Navas.
First-half chances at premium
A congested midfield and strong man-marking of wide players meant no quarter was given during the opening 45 minutes. This cancelling one another out contrasted sharply with the Tyne-Wear derby played earlier in the day, with Newcastle United dominating before succumbing to Sunderland.
Raheem Sterling’s shot after great build-up play through Yaya Toure and Fernandinho, who was later booked, saw Red Devils defenders throwing themselves to block it behind at Old Trafford.
That rare opening proved the only attack of note with no shots finding the target. Man City, perhaps recognising his struggles against Arsenal, pressed United’s Bastian Schweinsteiger often in possession to stop the German great from starting attacks in his deep-lying midfield role.
Similar story in second-half
Chris Smalling’s header back across goal from a corner dropped just wide soon after the break, with Morgan Schneiderlin simply not able to stretch every sinew to make contact on the slide.
Pellegrini hauled Sterling off before the hour in favour of Navas, which allowed City’s other big money summer buy Kevin De Bruyne to swap flanks.
Joe Hart had to spread himself well to deny Mata, earlier cautioned, when the Spaniard found himself in-behind the City defence with Marcos Rojo nipping in to intercept Wilfried Bony’s errant pass.
Late drama does not detract from poor spectacle
Red Devils sub Lingard came closest to scoring late on when his effort pinged off the bar after Anthony Martial’s ball over the top of Man City found him.
United survived themselves, however, when Wayne Rooney’s tackle stopped a Kolarov free-kick finding Nicolas Otamendi. The Red Devils might’ve won it with Smalling drawing a save from Hart when sub Marouane Fellaini nodded down to him.
A point apiece keeps it a three-horse race for the Premier League title, though things are tighter than before as we move into November.