Manchester United continue to their amazing form away from home as they visited the noisy neighbours and walked away with the three points, a clean sheet and a solid performance from the team as a whole. With this victory, it leaves them 11 points behind Pep Guardiola’s men, however, the Red Devils are able to return into second place and a step closer to Champions League football.
Despite the likes of David De Gea, Edinson Cavani and Paul Pogba being unavailable for the Manchester derby, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side were still able to hold up their own and execute their game plan to full effect. On the other hand, Manchester City were dominating possession as always and had created a couple of really good chances but were missing the clinical player to take them.
Given the outcome of one of the most intense Premier League fixtures of the season, Manchester United will be hoping to continue this form to confidently finish in the top four positions whilst compete on all fronts in the FA Cup and Europa League. Meanwhile for Pep Guardiola’s Manchester City, they will not want any last-minute slip-ups as they seem on course to win the league title.
With no further ado, here are the three things we learnt from United’s latest league fixture…
Dean Henderson stepping up in David De Gea’s absence
Manchester United are expected to be without David De Gea for the next couple of weeks, who is currently in Spain after his partner had given birth to their daughter just a couple of days ago. Although there were some doubts about the Spaniard’s presence being missed with some crucial fixtures coming ahead, Dean Henderson has entered the team and stepped up better than expected.
With a monumental save at the end of the Crystal Palace fixture and five important saves during the Manchester derby, Henderson is starting to prove himself to the manager and the rest of the coaches at the football club. Not only that, but the goalkeeper has shown how much of a leader he is, along with his ability to play with the ball at his feet and his composure of playing as a sweeper keeper, leaving Ole Gunnar Solskjaer with a good headache of who is number one keeper should be.
Outstanding performances from Anthony Martial and Luke Shaw
The fact that Anthony Martial and Luke Shaw were huge doubts ahead of the derby, and both of them went on to produce an outstanding performance on and off the ball, shows the type of sacrifices the players in the squad are willing to make for the manager and the club. If the duo were not able, the expected replacements for the pair would have been Alex Telles and Mason Greenwood, who would not have lived up to the expectations of the Manchester United supporters.
Martial, who has had a very poor season compared to his usual standards, showed many bright moments of his former self, where he held the ball up impressively and was always willing to take on one or two players in the middle of the pitch. Turning the focus onto Luke Shaw, he is quite clearly showing that he is currently the best left-back in the league, as a number of wingers are finding problems in getting past the defender, and he is also implementing his attacking ability all campaign.
The Red Devils showed composure defensively and their class on the counter
A lot of questions were raised ahead of the Manchester derby, especially towards Manchester United’s results against the big teams in the Premier League, where Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s lack of ambition and attacking plans were questioned by his critics. On the other hand, his side showed what they are about at the Etihad Stadium, as they showed their composure in the defensive areas as well as their pure class on the counterattack.
The Red Devils have proven to be more dangerous in transition and on the counter through the pace and movement of the likes of Daniel James, Marcus Rashford and Luke Shaw, whereas, they have had constant difficulties in breaking down a deep block against teams such as Crystal Palace, Sheffield United and West Brom. If the side can be more proactive and intelligent on the creative aspect of the game, then for sure, the team will be successful under the 48-year-old Norwegian.