Manchester City returned back to the top of the table after a goalless draw at Old Trafford against their city rivals, Manchester United.
In a game where chances were hard to come by, it took until the 82nd minute for a shot on target to be registered- a tame one at that from Navas. It’s not likely to be a derby day that lives long in the memory of many in Manchester.
For a fixture that always promises so much, and more often than not delivers, it came as a surprise that the two teams finally cancelled each other out. It was in fact, the first draw between the sides at Old Trafford since September 2005.
Substitute Jesse Lingard and Chris Smalling had chances late on, the former hitting the bar with the latter forcing a good save from Joe Hart, but the game lacked real star quality. One wonders how the game might have panned out if David Silva and Sergio Aguero had been fit for City.
Rooney and Bony struggle to make an impact
It was never going to be easy for Bony to fill the boots of the injured Sergio Aguero in a game of this magnitude. The Ivorian is a man of great strength, but even he understandably struggled to hold the ball up with little support from the likes of Toure, Sterling and De Bruyne.
Chances were at a premium for the former Swansea man, and with the City wide men often choosing to ignore his runs when given a passing opportunity, a day to forget was capped off with an 83rd minute substitution.
Rooney, having turned 30 on Saturday, was much the same. Whilst it would have been naive to have expected Rooney to be turning and beating the likes of Otamendi and Kompany, the United captain struggled more than usual in his advanced role.
The leading goal scorer in this fixture tried his best to affect the game with his link up play, but moves often ended in him conceding possession or returning the ball back where it came from, much to the frustration of the Old Trafford crowd.
It should however be mentioned that Rooney was responsible for preventing a chance which almost certainly would have seen Otamendi open the scoring from a set-piece. His defending and work rate was exemplary as ever.
De Bruyne and Sterling disappear on the big stage
Kevin De Bruyne has taken his return to the Premier League by storm since making his £55 million move from Wolfsburg, but today wasn’t his finest hour. Whilst the Belgian saw a lot of the ball on the right side, Marcos Rojo had the measure of him in the first half, often forcing an unusually poor pass from the promising play maker.
De Bruyne switched to the left in the second half but continued to struggle against Antonio Valencia and substitute Matteo Darmian late on. It was not the Manchester derby debut he would have hoped for, but there is no doubt he will shine in a fixture further down the line.
Raheem Sterling, whose £49 million move in the summer raised eyebrows all over the world, also failed to settle into the derby. The young Englishman failed to cope with the pace and power of United’s makeshift right back in the form of Valencia. On the odd occasion he got the better of the Ecuadorian and found space, his delivery was often wasteful.
Sterling nearly gifted United a penalty early in the second half and was substituted for Navas shortly after. The 20 year old struggled on his debut in truth but there is plenty more to come from the talented youngster.
Otamendi and Rojo excellent
Nicolas Otamendi was the deserved man of the match, with his fellow countryman Marcos Rojo a close second. The Argentine was solid in the City back line throughout, keeping control of Rooney and anyone else who challenged him for the full 90 minutes with consummate ease.
A real menace in the air and quick across the floor, this was perhaps the breakthrough game Otamendi has been looking for since his arrival from Valencia, and what better place to do it than at Old Trafford on derby day.
Similarly, Rojo dealt with the dangerous De Bruyne and Navas in a very impressive manner at left back. There had been talk of the Argentine being out of favour at United, but this performance has proven his worth, especially in the absence of Luke Shaw at fullback.
David De Gea 6– No saves worth talking about for the Spaniard. Nothing to do against a City side who had scored 11 in their last two games.
Antonio Valencia 6– Had the measure of Kolarov and Sterling throughout. Caused a number of problems down City’s left but a poor final ball let him down.
Phil Jones 7– A few nervy moments but grew well as the game progressed. Looks to be forming a promising partnership with Smalling.
Chris Smalling 8– Confident and assured as he has been all season long for United. Unlucky not to get on the score sheet in another derby
Marcos Rojo 7– Made sure De Bruyne was quiet throughout. Moved forward well and delivered a couple of good balls into the box.
Bastian Schweinsteiger 7– Kept the United midfield ticking over with his busy yet calm approach. Looked at home in his first derby.
Morgan Schneiderlin 6.5– Not a lot for the Frenchman to do, played the anchor role well and did the dirty work.
Juan Mata 5– United’s missing man. Often drifted into the spaces occupied by Herrera in an already crowded midfield. Failed to impact the game, substituted in the second half.
Ander Herrera 6– Showed good intent and energy, always on the move looking to create an opening. Unable to find that killer ball.
Anthony Martial 7– Productive afternoon on the left. Managed to beat men on a number of occasions. Brilliant chipped ball for Lingard and drew bookings from City men.
Wayne Rooney 5– Difficult afternoon up against Otamendi and Kompany. Important intervention from a set piece to deny a goal. The debate on whether he should play up top will undoubtedly continue.
Substitutes: Romero, Depay, Carrick, Blind, Fellaini (6), Lingard (7), Darmian (6)
Joe Hart 6.5– Little to do, much like De Gea. Reacted well to deny Smalling late on and showed good awareness off his line to prevent Mata.
Bacary Sagna 6.5– Assured performance up against the trickery of Martial. Coped well with threats down his side.
Vincent Kompany 7– Some signs of rustiness after his injury lay-off. Had the better of Rooney from start to finish.
Nicolas Otamendi 8.5– Pellegrini’s decision to start the Argentine over Mangala proved to be the right one. Confident and powerful all afternoon in his first derby. Excellent performance. One of the few positives.
Aleksandar Kolarov 5.5– Struggled in truth against Valencia. Unable to exert his attacking influence on the game.
Fernando 6.5– Solid in the heart of the City midfield. Very similar role to Schneiderlin. Cleaned up any mess in the middle.
Fernandinho 6.5– Always involved in the thick of it. Showed good composure alongside Fernando.
Yaya Toure 6– Given a license to roam more freely in an attacking role by Pellegrini. Failed to deliver from two decent chances.
Kevin De Bruyne 6– City’s Belgian superstar didn’t quite have the influence he’d have liked. Often let down by his final delivery.
Raheem Sterling 5– Poor day for the young winger. His attacking threat was nullified by Valencia. Substituted early in the second half.
Wilfried Bony 5– Not a lot the Ivorian could have done differently. Service and support lacking. Tough afternoon.
Substitutes: Caballero, Zabaleta, Navas (5.5), Mangala, Demichelis (6), Iheanacho (5.5), Roberts