Manchester City 0 - 0 Manchester United: match report
There is a fine line between frustrating the opposition through defensive organisation and positional discipline, and simply being under pressure by a team that fails to capitalise. Jose Mourinho's Manchester United blurred that fine line at the Etihad stadium as a keenly-anticipated Manchester derby finished goal-less.
The home side launched attack after attack in the second half, but could not apply the finishing touch. United rode their luck, but that will not concern Mourinho. He traversed Manchester with a clear game-plan, and despite Marouane Fellaini's idiocy, his team executed it.
The draw leaves the two teams in much the same position as they were in before kick off: Manchester City occupy the final Champions League, with United one point behind them.
The match only flashed in to life in the 84th minute, as 15 seconds of red mist from Fellaini resulted in a red card. It was an episode that was completely incongrouous with an otherwise disciplined performance by the Red Devils. The Belgian chased down Sergio Aguero in the Manchester City half, and scythed the Argentine to the ground. The referee booked Fellaini. Aguero got up, unpeturbed, and continued with the ball following a quick free-kick. Fellaini came for him again, and fouled the stocky striker. The pair stood up and approached each other, and there was a sense of inevitability as Fellaini planted his forehead on to his opponent's, right in front of Martin Atkinson.
Fellaini was livid. 'What happened?', Mourinho appeared to ask his player, He received no reply as Fellaini yelled at the fourth-official before stomping down the tunnel.
Up until that point, City had consistently threatened, but consistently lacked the incision to break the deadlock. Sergio Aguero struck the base of the post after nine minutes, after Kevin De Bruyne found space to whip a wicked ball across the face of goal. That was the first of a string of near-misses for City's number 10.
Blue shirts exchanged the ball patiently. City probed, they tried to develop patterns of play. Guardiola furiously gesticulated on the touchline. His team is yet to adhere to the image he has in mind.
Claudio Bravo nearly gifted United an unlikely lead after 25 minutes. The much-maligned 'keeper back-pedaled desperately to claw a cross straight in to the path of Marcus Rashford. Bravo recovered to make an admirable block, but it was a mess of his own making. The cross was sailing out for a throw in.
City emerged for the second half with the wind in their sails. Manchester United camped in their own half, simultaneously under pressure yet comfortable. Rashford cut a lonely figure in attack, as Martial and Mkhitaryan were quick to bolster the midfield when City had possession. The home side were largely restricted to shooting from long range.
Only with Fellaini's hot-bloodedness did the match really ignite. Minutes later, substitute Gabriel Jesús turned the ball in at the near post and wheeled away in celebration, a dream return from a spell on the treatment table. But the linesman's flag was raised.
One final chance for Aguero came and went, and the referee put his whistle to his lips.
Mourninho's team may have blurred the distinction between stoic organisation and being 'under the cosh', but that fuzzy existence is where his teams often thrive. The men in red seemed energised, buoyed by the smell of danger. For Guardiola, the transition is far from complete.
Manchester City 0 - 0 Manchester United: second half as it happened
Min 95+6 | That was it, City's big chance. Aguero meets a deep cross at the far post, he's flying through the air to meet it, and when he does, his contact is too thick. The ball goes back towards where it came from. Again, not easy, But Aguero often converts those kind of chances.
Min 90+5 | City have the ball around the United box. They're playing patiently, probing, waiting for a gap.
Min 90+3 | Young replaces Rashford.
Min 90 | 6 minutes added.
Min 90 | GOOAAA... No! Jesús has the ball in the net and the Etihad erupts, but he was correctly adjudged to be offside.
Min 88 | Kolarov nips in to the box and is blocked off by Valencia. That looked like a foul. Moments later, Jesús closes down Rashford a little too enthusiastically, and goes in to the book.
Min 86 | City sub: Gabriel Jesús for Sterling.
Min 85 | United sub: Fosu-Mensah for Mkhitaryan.
Min 84 | Fellaini is off! Red card! He was booked for fouling Aguero in the centre of the park, and moments later he headbutts the Argentine. He is livid. His team-mates have to drag him off. A moment of head-loss for the big Belgian. Sergio Aguero did very little to provoke that reaction.
Min 83 | That lengthy stoppage for Bravo's injury has taken the wind out of City's sails. They've lost the momentum they had for the first chunk of the second half, and United are seeing more of the ball.
Min 80 | United sub: Lingard for Martial.
Min 79 | City subs: Caballero for Bravo, Navas for Sané.
Min 79 | Bravo shuffles on to a stretcher, and that'll be that for him tonight. The ambulance staff see fit to strap him down with about five belts. Donald Trump did say he'd like to send a man to Mars before the end of his presidency, and Bravo looks ready for lift off.
Min 76 | And Claudio Bravo shimmies out and catches it. Yet the City keeper is now sat down in his six-yard box, holding his calf and grimacing. The physios are on.
Min 75 | United have a corner!
Min 73 | Mourinho encourages his team with a flurry of claps from the technical area. The City pressure persists, but fine defensive organsation is limiting the home side to long-range efforts.
Min 71 | A well-struck shot from Sterling rises in to the 'keeper's arms.
Min 69 | With Darmian receiving treatment, the lesser-spotted Luke Shaw emerges from the dug out, bib in hand, to warm up.
Min 66 | The referee calls Fellaini over for a word before the corner comes in. When Sané finally delivers it, Otamendi nods over at the far post, via a deflection off Bailly's bonce.
Min 64 | Zabaleta finds Sterling with a well-executed pass to the right. His cross is nice, but slightly beyond Sané. It's hard to emphasise quite how dominant City are at the moment. They win a corner.
Min 62 | Aguero has attempted eight shots so far. Cumulatively, they've probably gone about three miles wide.
Min 60 | Aguero hasn't brought his shooting boots with him today. A poor clearance from Eric Bailly gives him the chance to put his foot through the ball on the edge of the box. His effort is wild; high, wide, and none too handsome.
Min 58 | Ooooft De Bruyne goes close. He dashes in from the left and flashes a shot towards the near post. The ball ripples the side netting on its way out for a goal kick. On the touchline, Gabriel Jesús slips a bib on and embarks on a warm-up.
Min 57 | Sane tumbles over Valencia's leg in the penalty box. Martin Atkinson crouches to get a better view, and waves his hands in a categorical 'no'.
Min 55 | Sterling wins the ball from Martial near the corner flag, and Martial promptly fouls him in response. De Bruyne whips the ball in, but a red shirt leaps to head it clear. The match is increasingly taking place in the half of the pitch that United are defending.
Min 53 | A patient spell of City possession culminates in Kolarov wrapping his foot around a cross on the byline. It falls for De Gea.
Min 50 | I've only just noticed that Darmian is playing, which says a lot about how unwilling the United full backs are to contribute in attack. Come to think of it, I can't remember Valencia getting involved either.
Min 49 | 'Come on City' cry the crowd as the volume cranks up inside the Etihad. Aguero shoots once again from within a crowd of United players, but his standing foot slips from beneath him and, once again, De Gea claims with ease. A fine start from the home side nonetheless.
Min 47 | Sterling gallops forward from the half way line, and makes it all the way on to the United box. Bailly forces him away from goal and his left-footed shot is tame.
Min 47 | It's very much a 4-5-1 for United when City have the ball. Very hard to break down.
Min 46 | Sergio Aguero knocks it back to Kolarov, and we tuck back in to some juicy football action. No changes for either side at the break.
Manchester City vs Manchester United: half time talking points
City 62 - 38 United in the possession contest.
A #WengerIn banner flew over the Etihad during the first half. This is getting absurd. If I don't come back for the second half, it's because I've dropped everything to become a light aircraft pilot and make the most of this craze.
City have taken 5 shots, to United's 1.
Gabriel Jesús will be a handy weapon to have on the bench, City are lacking a bit of spark, a touch of invention. He may well be the man to provide that.
The first half of the Mancunian derby has been an attritional affair. Mourinho's side have done well to stifle the home team, with the exception of Sergio Aguero, who hit the post in the 9th minute. Ander Herrera had the best chance for United, just before half time.
Manchester City 0 - 0 Manchester United: first half as it happened
HT whistle blows.
Min 45 | One minute added on.
Min 45 | Rashford delivers an inch-perfect cross from a free-kick, following a foul by Zabaleta out on the touchline. Herrera arrives, unmarked, but heads the ball wide of the goal. Really poor finish, that was the best chance of the match.
Min 43 | A neat interchange between Sterling and Aguero allows the former to steam towards goal and shoot. He leans back, and it flies well over the bar.
Min 41 | A bit of handbags between Herrera and Fernandinho. Martin Atkinson gives them a ticking off, and gets play going again. The referee has handled things well so far.
Min 39 | Mourinho will be pleased with how his side have, by and large, limited City to long-range pot-shots. United don't look particularly incisive though. Or at least, they're not willing to attack and show their incisiveness.
Min 36 | Kolarov strikes a fierce, swirling shot from the corner of the box. De Gea dives low to his right to turn it around the post. From the corner, Toure collapses to the ground following a nudge in the back from Herrera. The United player throws an arm in the air, disbelieving of Toure's theatrics, and the referee is unmoved. It would have been a weak penalty, but, you've seen 'em given...
Min 34 | He's getting closer, the former-Independiente striker. Aguero uses his low centre of gravity to great effect, twisting on to his right foot to escape the attentions of Blind, before rifling a shot narrowly over the bar.
Min 32 | Aguero threatens again. He collects the ball just outside the box and unleashes a curling shot towards the top corner. De Gea, diving to his left, plucks it out of the air. Moments earlier, Martial held out his hands while in possession of the ball on the attack, as if to ask what options he had. United are, unsurprisingly, not committing many players forward.
Min 29 | The ball richochets of a couple of players and lands at the feet of Kolarov on the left. He shapes a sumptuous cross to the far post, where a sliding Aguero can't quite get the required connection. Nearly...
Min 27 | Some gesticulation from Pep on the touchline. Presumably those wild movements convey some kind of tactical message to his players.
Min 24 | Claudio Bravo narrowly avoid a very, very embarrassing moment. Martial gets to the byline and chips a cross to the far post. Bravo back-pedals, clearly mistaken that there is a United player the behind him, and claws the ball right in to the danger-zone at the feet of Rashford. The Chilean keeper makes amends with a good block from the follow up.
Min 23 | Superb, last-ditch tackle from Bailly to dispossess Sané as he was about to pull the trigger.
Min 21 | Sterling ghosts in towards a cross-cum-shot from De Bruyne, but the ball is curling away from him, and it nestles in the arms of David de Gea.
Min 19 | This game hasn't quite burst in to life yet. Manchester City have had 66% of the ball, but have done little with it, beyond that Aguero snap-shot. It's tactical, attritional. It'll be 'won on the whiteboard' as they say in Spain.
Min 17 | De Bruyne generates a lot of whip on a free-kick from the right. The ball whistles through the channel between the goalkeeper and the defence, and bounces out for a goal kick.
Min 15 | Carrick spins on a sixpence to escape Toure's attention on the edge of his own box, before playing a ball up the line to Rashford. Is Carrick from Macclesfield? Because he is adept at silk production.
Min 14 | The City full backs are cutting inside in order to give Sterling and Sané more space to operate in the wide areas. It´ll be interesting to see how the United defence deal with that movement.
Min 11 | Fernandinho is given a stern talking to by the referee following a foul on Mkhitaryan on half way. He escapes without a card, but Atkinson gives him a 'no more of that, thank you' scowl and gesture.
Min 9 | Aguero grazes the post! De Bruyne found space on the right and whipped a fierce cross to the Argentine at the near post. Five yards out, he couldn't quite squeeze the ball in at the near corner with his right instep. It wasn't an easy chance, but we're so used to seeing Aguero gobble them up nonetheless.
Min 8 | It looks like United manage to burst through, Rashford on the ball with men waiting, unmarked, in the middle. But the linesman lifts his flag. Correct decision, albeit a close one. Well done Sir.
Min 7 | We have our first 'welcome to the game' reducer (is it even a derby without one?). Kolarov on Rashford. It's deemed a clean tackle by Martin Atkinson, but the young United striker is bumped to the turf.
Min 5 | United appear to have settled in to a 4-3-3, with Herrera, Fellaini, and Carrick marshalling the midfield. Rashford, Mkhitaryan, and Martial comprise the pacey front three. Off the ball, Mourinho's team are content to allow City to come on to them.
Min 3 | Blind clips an in-swinger to the near post, but it's cleared. Rare to see a centre-half on corner duties.
Min 2 | United make the first move... Herrera whips a lovely cross towards the back post, and Zabaleta is forced to turn the ball behind. Corner.
Min 1 | United get this crucial derby underway. We're off!
Manchester City vs Manchester United: team news
City XI: Bravo; Zabaleta, Kompany, Otamendi, Kolarov; Toure, Fernandinho; Sterling, De Bruyne, Sane; Aguero.
Subs: Caballero, Sagna, Fernando, Navas, Clichy, Gabriel Jesús, García
Coach: Pep Guardiola
United XI: De Gea; Valencia, Bailly, Blind, Darmian; Carrick, Herrera; Mkhitaryan, Fellaini, Martial; Rashford.
Subs: Romero, Rooney, Lingard, Young, Shaw, Fosu-Mensah, Tuanzebe.
Coach: Jose Mourinho
Manchester City vs Manchester United live stream online: latest news
20:58 | As the two teams shake hands, a reminder that Martin Atkinson is the man with the whistle between his lips this evening.
20:56 | Not long to go now... the teams stride out of the tunnel.
20:55 | United are rumoured to be keen on Real Madrid striker Alvaro Morata. He scored Madrid's opening goal at Deportivo last night.
20:50 | Gabriel Jesús made quite an impression following his arrival in January from Palmeiras. He scored three goals in three Premier League starts before a metatarsal injury sidelined him. He's back on the bench today.
20:46 | If you've a fondness for American sports, head over to AS English's live feed of the NFL draft after the Manchester Derby. Robbie will have you covered as the drama unfolds throughout the night.
20:43 | A reminder that the visitors are without Paul Pogba and Zlatan Ibrahimovic, their two posterboys, at The Etihad tonight.
20:37 | Henrikh Mkhitaryan took a while to cement himself in the United team; he didn't play 90 minutes for his new club until the 2-1 victory over 'Boro on New Year's Eve.
20:32 | It's fair to say that neither of these teams are set-piece specialists. City and United have each scored seven goals from dead ball situations this season, which places them in the bottom quarter of Premier League teams in this particular statistic.
20:28 | The absence of Zlatan Ibrahimovic (17) and Juan Mata (6) means the Marcus Rashford is United's top scorer who starts today. He has just five goals in the Premier League.
20:24 | City's last win at home came against Marco Silva's resurgent Hull City, by a 3-1 margin. Elmohamady (OG), Delph, and Aguero were the scorers.
20:19 | United are good at keeping clean sheets away from home. They're pretty good at finding the net, too. They've scored at least two goals in each of their last eight away matches in the Premier League.
20:14 | Vincent Kompany and Michael Carrick will captain the teams tonight.
20:09 | Mourinho picks Fellaini in a more advanced role, more akin to where he played at Everton under David Moyes. There'll be a skirmish between him and fellow Belgian Vincent Kompany to come. United's attack has a pacey, dynamic look to it, with Martial, Rashford, and Mkhitaryan.
20:05 | Well, City line up pretty much as expected. Pep opts for Zabaleta over Navas at right back. He's probably keen to have a natural defender up against Martial. Aguero returns from that knock he picked up against Arsenal at the weekend.
19:53 | "[Mourinho and I] are neighbours. When we see each other we say 'hi', Guardiola told the press. I can't help but feel it's a frosty greeting.
19:40 | United are adept at 'shutting up shop away from home', The Red Devils have kept a clean sheet in five of their last seven away matches in the Premier League.
19:23 | City have invested heavily in their academy, reinvigorating a large part of East Manchester in the process. Their U18´s team made it to the FA Youth Cup final last night, where they fell to a 6-2 aggregate loss to Chelsea.
19:10 | Mourinho has been dicing with danger in his approach to motivating his players. He suggested that criticism of Luke Shaw and Anthony Martial is 'common sense'.
18:56 | Well, we're two hours away from kick off. That means that it's time for you to grab a cup of tea, put your feet up, and enjoy this sensation article by Jonathan Wilson about how the rivalry between Mourinho and Guardiola has deeper roots than you might have imagined...
18:45 | Manchester City's flying start to the season seems like a long while ago. The Citizens won their first six Premier League fixtures, and were eventually halted by Tottenham on the 2nd of October.
18:28 | Pep Guardiola is comtemplating Europa League football next football next season. English clubs appear to view Europe's second competition as a burden, but City's coach is confident that they would be able to manage: “I think we’ll be able to qualify for the Champions League but, if we are not able to, we are going to adapt and play the Europa League.”
17:31 | Frank Lampard has been involved in plenty big games down the years and says that Vincent Kompany is a key player for City, exuding confidence to the whole team.
17:06 | One of Man Utd's talented Spanish contingent, Ander Herrera, is really trying hard not to crank up the expectation in tonight's game. Speaking ahead of the match he dialled it down by saying, "It's going to be the game of the season."
16:45 | With the Alex Ferguson dominance so fresh in the memory, many people may believe that the overall head-to-head significantly favours the red side of Manchester. But no, although they do hold the advantage with 83 wins to the 79 of City.
16:16 | With big egos like Zlatan and Pogba out, Mourinho has a choice whether he starts with the experienced Wayne Rooney who returned to the team and scoresheet against Burnley at the weekend.
15:50 | In case you haven't noticed, today is Thursday, and although fans of the Red Devils have gotten a little used to Thursday night football of late, it's the first time these two have met on this weekday in two decades. In 1994 there was a bit of a gulf in class between the sides and United ran out 5-0 winners. What are the odds on that repeating itself tonight?
15:22 | The two managers for the derby have a fairly impressive managerial rivalry. Currently Pep leads José with eight wins to four. There have been six draws.
14:58 | Whistler Martin Atkinson will be in the middle of it all tonight and did you know that in the previous three Premier League Manchester derbies that he's officiated, United have scored a 90th minute winner? OptaJoe knew, and we thank him.
14:23 | ...of course, out of all those scrapping for third and fourth, United have another doorway to Europe's showcase competition open to them. Through the Europa League.
14:19 | More than ever, this year's Premier League is going to see some big clubs miss out on Champions League qualification. Chelsea and Spurs looked to have wrapped up the top two places and the fight is on between tonight's opponents, Liverpool and Arsenal for the remaining two places. Not long ago, we were talking about Everton also having a shout. This is how the table currently stands.
13:30 | As ever, because we're nice like that, we've provided a handy at-a-glance guide to how and where you can watch tonight's game. And of course we'll be right here detailing the action unfold in our minute-by-minute coverage.
12:30 | José Mourinho's side stand on the cusp of history in the Etihad, where avoiding defeat will match Manchester United's record unbeaten run of 24 matches in a single top-flight season, set in 2010-11. However, the Portuguese has only once got the better of Guardiola in five attempts in league action, losing three times and drawing once. His only success came in 2011-12, when Real Madrid beat Barcelona 2-1 in Camp Nou.
11:30 | For City, Sergio Agüero is fit to return to the side after recovering from a knock he picked up in the FA Cup semi-final defeat to Arsenal but Gabriel Jesús is unlikely to feature after Pep Guardiola said he would not be ready despite recovering from a foot injury.
10:30 | The big news from the red half of Manchester is that Paul Pogba has been ruled out of tonight's game. The world's most expensive footballer aggravated a hamstring problem against Burnley at the weekend and will be a spectator in the Etihad.
Manchester City v Manchester United live stream: match preview
The narrative on Thursday night has more threads than the Christmas jumper your Grandma used to knit you. It's 4th vs 5th in the closing stages of the race for Champions League football, it's a Manchester Derby, and it's Pep Guardiola vs José Mourinho.
City surrendered their only realistic chance of winning silverware in Pep Guardiola's first season at the club, with the 2-1 defeat to Arsenal in the FA Cup semi-final on Sunday. The former-Barça manager was candid about the prospect of a first trophy-less season in his career: “It has to happen. It happened this year and if I manage for a long time, it will happen again in the future.”
Their league form has decidedly mixed in the last month; two wins, two draws, and one defeat in their last five matches has allowed United to creep up behind them.
Sergio Aguero and David Silva both picked up knocks during that defeat to Arsenal beneath the Wembley arch. Aguero should be fit to return on Thursday, but Silva's chances are slimmer. Gabriel Jesus is continuing his recovery from a broken metatarsal, and trained this week without any problems. He should be able to feature from the bench.
John Stones missed the FA Cup sem-final defeat, and looks unlikely to return to fitness for this match. In his absence, Kompany and Otamendi will forge a defensive partnership.
The big news from the United camp is that Paul Pogba is ruled out because of a hamstring injury sustained during the 2-0 victory over Burnley.
The rangy French midfielder joins a mounting list of injury concerns for Jose Mourinho. Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Marcos Rojo will both be injured for several months, foillowing serious knee injuries. Meanwhile, Phil Jones and Chris Smalling have failed to respond to Mourinho's call-to-arms. The Portuguese coach criticised the defensive pair for failing to return to action early following injury.
That was not his only recent quip at his squad. Mourinho defended his criticism of Luke Shaw and Anthony Martial, and went as far as to call it 'common sense'. He's playing a dangerous game.
Manchester City - Manchester United live online: possible line-ups
Manchester City: Bravo; Navas, Kompany, Otamendi, Clichy; Toure, Fernandindo; Sane, De Bruyne, Sterling; Aguero.
Manchester United: De Gea; Valencia, Bailly, Blind, Darmian; Carrick, Herrera; Martial, Mkhitaryan, Lingard; Rashford.
Manchester City vs Manchester United: match facts
Jose Mourinho has won just four of his last 18 matches against teams managed by Pep Guardiola (drawn 8, lost 6).
Manchester United are undefeated in their last 23 Premier League matches.
Manchester United have not conceded a shot on target in their last two Premier League games.
Manchester City vs Manchester United: live stream match betting
Fancy Manchester lad Marcus Rashford to open the scoring? He's at 7/1.
Man City vs Man Utd: match build-up