Dubbed as the clash of English football’s finest, the Manchester derby served up its first goalless draw in a long while. The game was hyped to be one which would entertain and excite but the attacking players on the day failed to shine as both teams looked to cancel each other out with both defenses coming out on top.
Manchester United dominated the early exchanges as the game began with nice pieces of play albeit safety first and cautious one. United manager, Van Gaal had suggested in his pre match press conference that City were the favorites, and it showed in the way they started the game, playing as if they were the away team, taking a more conservative approach.

Rooney was fouled by Toure and he was inexplicably not booked for whatever reason, I don’t know. City rode the United tide and grew into the game as it went on with Kevin De Bryune proving to be the main outlet for attack.

It was one of the much talked about debutants, Anthony Martial, who flourished. He turned Sagna inside out on 14 minutes and drew a foul from his fellow country man. Sagna was in for a long afternoon. With every passing game, Martial is making that “What A Waste Of Money” headline look ridiculous. He was the brightest player on the pitch, dribbling his way past City defenders, drawing fouls, and holding up play well. At one point he drew a needless foul from Kompany which earned the Belgian a yellow card. With this kind of performance the future definitely looks promising for the United youngster. One moment of pure magic occurred in the dying embers of the game when his lobbed pass found Jesse Lingaard who chipped the ball over Hart but unfortunately hit the bar. A cue for the older players on the pitch to follow since that was the best bit of play all afternoon.

Following his last minute heroics in midweek, he was the in-form player heading into the game but Kevin De Bryune was abject in this one. His threat was nullified by United’s left back Marcos Rojo, who had a good game. Rojo with performances like this, can be sure to keep his place in the team with first choice Luke Shaw out for a lengthy period.

Raheem Sterling was also another player who failed to impress after his hat trick last week. He found it hard to get into the game and was thwarted on many occasions by a resolute and tight United defense and was replaced by Navas later in the second half.

Antonio Valencia also justified his place in the team with a disciplined defensive display. Up till today Darmian had started all Premier League games. Valencia was subbed for Darmian later in the game following an injury.

Bony who was in as a replacement for the injured Sergio Aguero was listless. He rarely offered City any attacking threat and lost the ball on several occasions. It was clear that City were missing the attacking verve of Aguero and creativity of David Silva in their team and it showed throughout the game.

Speaking of let downs, how can I forget the epitome of decline that is Wayne Rooney. The United captain was just a passenger in this game having no major impact in the final third. After the first half there was an image that showed the number of touches Rooney had. They were 24, none of which were in the opposition penalty area. As the captain and target man leading the line, one would have expected much more from him. It is one thing to be on the decline but totally another issue when your decline brings the whole team down with you, and that is exactly the issue here with Rooney. He sometimes makes the industry and hard work of his teammate’s prove futile. He is just not good enough for this united team and should not have started on the evidence of his poor run of late. But it seems right now Rooney is not in the team based on merit but rather reputation. Many were calling for his substitution but rather it was Mata, and Schweinsteiger who were replaced by Lingard and Felliani respectively.

This derby was utterly dire and it took until the 82nd minute for the first shot on target. And that it came from Chris Smalling gives a reflection of the part of the game that was most dominant: the defense. Getting to the end of the game, City brought on Demicheles for Toure as they looked to settle for the draw.

This is the first time that City have been involved in a goalless draw in 61 games, dating as far back as February 2014.

Kompany has really been missed by City in recent matches and he proved his worth all afternoon, breaking up play and making vital clearances. His partnership with Otamendi was formidable and City fans will be happy to have their captain back in the squad.
United shaded the game in terms of possession and could have won it getting to the end of the game. But the quality was lacking from both teams in the third as both keepers were barely tested throughout the game.

City will be happier team with the point. For United it is not all gloom, though a little bit more adventure and risk taking in the final third, as compared to their cautious, safety first approach to games, will go a long way to improving their title challenge chances by a mile.