Manchester United fell to Manchester City at the Etihad by an embarrassing 1-4 scoreline, allowing Arsenal to move above them in the standings and making their top 4 hopes all the more bleaker.
Manchester United achieved several victories over City under Ole Gunnar Solskjaer by staying compact defensively and seeing everyone do their job in defense. That wasn’t the case earlier this season, and again errors leading to goals cost United to start this match. Lindelof and Wan-Bissaka got sucked in to deal with a Grealish ball, which made it’s way through to an open Kevin De Bruyne to slot home in just the 5th minute of this one.
City responded to going up by backing off a bit, and it allowed United to create some decent chances for themselves. Pogba and Bruno Fernandes played as a bit of a front two in possession, with the latter seeming to play in behind the former and allowing him to make runs. Elanga and Sancho were a good presence on the wings in attack as well, and when United did get forward they looked pretty dangerous. They found an equalizer through Sancho in 22nd minute, who cut inside and shot perfectly into the far corner after receiving a nice through ball from Pogba. It reflected the run of play since City’s early goal, but unfortunately did not swing momentum the other way.
Just a few minutes later City took the lead again, with De Bruyne getting a second following up on a saved chance. Again Lindelof bit too hard on a challenge and left space for his teammates to cover, and though De Gea stopped the first shot the rebound landed in a dangerous area and the keeper was left largely unprotected by defenders who briefly switched off and thought the danger was gone. City once again looked comfortable with a 1-goal lead, but United couldn’t take advantage before the halftime break.
Coming out of the break City seemed much more motivated to score, and United had a lot more trouble breaking out after winning back possession. United saw less and less of the ball, and City found a third goal off of a set piece in the 68th minute to put the game out of reach. Riyad Mahrez connected with it very cleanly from the edge of the box after the cross was initially cleared from the danger area, and the shot found the far corner after traveling through the crowd and past De Gea. Probably should have scored a few more, and did get a 4th via Mahrez in stoppage time, but they got the job done in the second half and totally removed hope for their opponent. Their control of the game was rewarded and seemed to finally hit the fight out of United as well.
It’s a tough loss to take as Arsenal won again and moved into 4th, and still have 3 games in hand too. A win wouldn’t have changed perception of the team overall in relation to City, but it definitely would have helped as they chase for Champions League next season. Now, bitterness, but they go again next week against Tottenham. They need to shake this off, they can’t afford another lifeless response to adversity like we saw today.