Manchester United 1-1 Liverpool: 5 Hits and Flops

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Liverpool’s 16-match Premier League winning streak was abruptly ended by a defiant Manchester United performance on Sunday, though Adam Lallana’s late equaliser ensured the Reds’ unbeaten top-flight run continues after an unpredictable 1-1 draw at Old Trafford. Continue reading

Manchester United 0-0 Manchester City: Sides share the spoils in nervy Derby

Manchester United 0-0 Manchester City: Sides share the spoils in nervy Derby

After all of the pre-match hype, the 170th installment of the Manchester Derby ended in a nervy goalless draw at Old Trafford – with both sides staying firm defensively.

It seemed typical that after all of the pre-match build-up, excitement, and analysis ahead of kick-off at Old Trafford, it’d finish with a goalless draw between the noisy neighbours of Manchester. Even so, although this was true, neither side played particularly badly – it was more credit given towards both defences in particular, who stayed firm in the presence of frequent attacking pressure to keep a hard-fought clean sheet.

Argentinian duo Marcos Rojo and Nicolas Otámendi were two of the standout performers for their respective clubs, the latter of which was making his Derby debut, covered himself in plenty of glory with a no-nonsense, excellent defensive display to help Joe Hart keep his 100th Premier League clean sheet.

Strong, competitive team line-ups

Even with both Sergio Agüero and David Silva out of contention to feature, Manchester City fielded a strong side regardless. Manuel Pellegrini made three changes to the squad who came from behind to steal all three points against Sevilla on Wednesday in the Champions League – club captain Vincent Kompany was back in the starting XI for the first time in over a month, whilst Fernando and Aleksandar Kolarov were both included too.

Jesús Navas dropped to the substitutes’ bench – much to the quiet relief of the visiting supporters – whilst Yaya Touré was deployed in a more attacking role with Kevin de Bruyne and Raheem Sterlingon either flank.

As for Manchester United, Louis van Gaal had the luxury of being able to choose from a virtually fully-strengthened side. Luke Shaw (leg) and Paddy McNair (liver) were the only two players sidelined with their respective injuries – and the latter probably wouldn’t have featured in fairness.

Energetic atmosphere helped spirited Reds

As the intriguing clash got underway, it soon became apparent that the hosts were on top in the early stages, and certainly fed off the energy from the home supporters – willing their team on to try and secure bragging rights for another day.

They struggled to make the most of their possession though, and despite a few advances towards goal, it was actually the sky Blueswho had the first half-chance on-goal. After some intelligent interplay between Fernandinho and Sterling, the latter weaved his way past two challenges in the box before trying his luck – but his effort took a deflection and swerved away from goal with David de Gea relatively untroubled.

Martial a tricky threat to deal with

Anthony Martial was a problem for City to deal with, and the 19-year-old weaved his magic on the flank upon occasion too. It was great work from the young Frenchman to speed down the flank, dribble past his marker and unselfishly square the ball into the path of teammate Juan Mata – who dithered in possession just enough to allow the visitors’ a chance to get back into their defensive shape – having been hit on the counter – and his attempted ball was cut out effectively.

You could almost hear the collective groans from the Old Trafford faithful as the half went on, they were understandably frustrated their side had failed to make the most of their half-chances to create an opportunity to score.

Ideas were there – execution, not so much

This feeling was echoed even further in the 37th minute whenWayne Rooney swatted Bacary Sagna out of his path like a fly before driving towards the box with Martial calling for the ball on his left. He took an extra touch before releasing the ball, and that was enough to put Martial off continuing his run, evidently assuming the 30-year-old would go for goal himself.

The idea was certainly there, but the execution, not so much. It could have easily been one-nil to City at the interval too – but Yaya Touré watched on in agony as his looping header flashed narrowly wide of de Gea’s near post from a de Bruyne corner-kick.

As the second-half began, neither side made any alterations, with both bosses eager to keep their relative teams the same, trying to see if they could improve in the second 45. United probably should have broken the deadlock just five minutes afterwards, at the end of a quick passing move, but another deflection thwarted Ander Herrera‘s strike from the edge of the area.

Just a minute later, penalty appeals were waved away by refereeMark Clattenburg – as Herrera went down under the suspected challenge from Sterling, although replays showed it would have been a soft spot-kick, in fairness. Chris Smalling saw his headed effort trickle narrowly wide of Hart’s far post, with plenty of home supporters getting ready to celebrate the opener, but it wasn’t to be.

Otámendi made an important interception to deny Rooney with a one-on-one opportunity in the box on the hour mark, just a minute before Hart was called into action to stop Mata with a perfectly-timed challenge as the ball broke free from an innocuous sliding interception in midfield.

Alterations highlighted the varying tactics as the clock ticked down

The inclusion of Jesse Lingard and Marouane Fellaini sparked new life in United going forward, as they nervously edged closer towards a winner. The same couldn’t really be said for Pellegrini’s side – as Navas was particularly ineffective whilst Martin Demichelis was deployed in a midfield role to nullify United’s prominence in that area of the field. Kelechi Iheanacho was introduced into the fray, but it was too late for the talented young Nigerian to really create anything of note, apart from a few neat touches here-and-there.

City looked dangerous on the counter, and United were constantly weary that their local rivals could, and probably would, steal a late strike at some point. Lingard though, came closest to breaking the deadlock with a few minutes remaining. After being released with a teasing lofted ball by Martial, the 22-year-old chipped a helpless Hart, but his goal-bound effort rattled off the crossbar and the Citizens were handed a lifeline.

If not for the presence of Wayne Rooney at the far post, they would have taken it, too. A searching delivery was fizzed into the box by Kolarov from the left-hand side, and Otámendi was an inch or two away from latching onto the ball – which would have almost certainly resulted in the opening goal. Instead, the experienced Englishman was alert to the danger and got his body in-behind the Argentine, making sure he got tight to him, stopping him in his tracks rather dramatically.

There was time for one final push, and Joe Hart made a fantastic diving stop to his left to deny Smalling from becoming a Derby day hero – after his low strike was seemingly destined for the bottom corner, but England’s number one had other ideas, making sure his clean sheet was intact.

Manchester Derby, a goalless draw. It fails to tell the whole story, though.

Manchester United 0-0 Manchester City: As it happened

Manchester United 0-0 Manchester City: As it happened

Make sure you stay tuned to the latest on my blog, where coverage on football never stops. Until next time, have a good evening!

Manchester City move back to the top of the League, on goal-difference, whilst United stay in amongst the top four of the division – level on points now with third placed West Ham.

Thank you for joining me this afternoon, unfortunately there were no goals to bring to you all, but even so, it was still an excellent match to commentate on.

Nicolas Otámendi played with no fear, just as you’d want from a centre-back in a crunch match against your noisy neighbours. Vincent Kompany was indifferent at times, partly rusty with his challenges, but also his presence was certainly felt at times too. Aleksandar Kolarov’s deliveries were teasing and well-driven, a shame none of his teammates managed to latch onto them… whilst Bacary Sagna was tasked with trying to lessen the impact of Anthony Martial – easier said than done.

Defensively, the two teams were solid. Antonio Valencia was possibly the anomaly at times – he drove forward too frequently and made too many mistakes, often disregarding his defensive duties. Marcos Rojo was excellent for the hosts, as was Chris Smalling, commanding as ever.

90+3: FULL-TIME! Manchester United 0-0 Manchester City – The points are shared in a tense, nervy, intriguing finale to an end-to-end affair at Old Trafford. Although neither side snatched all three points, it could have been much worse, especially for City with two of their most influential players unavailable.

90+1: A tactical foul by Morgan Schneiderlin – booking by the referee, slowing down the tempo as City promised to gallop forward at will there.. de Bruyne unhappy that he was clattered then.

90: The fourth official has signalled for three minutes of stoppage time! 3 MINUTES to go!

89: GREAT SAVE, JOE HART! Smalling comes close with a shot in the area, but Hart is equal to it – making a good diving stop to his left, parrying the ball away for a corner-kick. The clock is ticking..

87: OTÁMENDI! EXCELLENT CROSS BY KOLAROV – SO CLOSE! The game is suddenly bursting into life once more, as Nicolas Otámendi is an inch or two away from latching onto the inviting delivery from the left, but for some intelligent defending by Wayne Rooney, who shields the Argentine’s movement in the box ever-so slightly..

85: OFF THE CROSSBAR! SO CLOSE BY LINGARD! Martial floats a lofted ball into the path of teammate Lingard, who is narrowly onside, and flicks a chipped effort over the head of Joe Hart. England’s number one is beaten, and his audacious effort is goal-bound, but for the woodwork – the ball crashes off the crossbar and United are so unlucky!

84: That ineffectiveness isn’t Bony’s fault, service into him has been very limited to say the least.

83: Final change for the visitors now, as the ineffective Wilfried Bony is being replaced by a more youthful option – Kelechi Iheanacho.

82: City leaving it late in their pursuit of a winner? Navas tries his luck from range, comfortably smothered though by de Gea.

81: Matteo Darmian, on to replace him for the final ten minutes of the ninety now. Never easy, especially coming on as a defender.

80: Ten minutes left, and Antonio Valencia has an injury of some sort… doesn’t look like he can continue, whatsoever.

77: Yaya Touré doesn’t particularly look like a happy customer, as he walks off the pitch with Pellegrini making another substitution. Martin Demichelis replaces the powerful Ivorian for the final fifteen minutes or so (including stoppage time, of course).

75: Fellaini already getting himself amongst the thick of the action, with aerial challenges and tussles for possession certainly his forté.

73: Another change for the hosts, met by warm applause around the ground. Bastian Schweinsteiger jogs off the pitch, with Fellaini coming on to replace him.

70: Twenty minutes left – can either side find themselves a goal?

68: Rojo arguably lucky not to be penalized after a collision with Navas on the flank – he caught the Spaniard’s face with his boot as he was jumping over him too..

65: First substitution for United – Juan Mata OFF, Jesse Lingard ON. Twenty five minutes plus any additional stoppages for Lingard to make his mark, after featuring against CSKA Moscow during midweek. Memphis and Marouane Fellaini amongst those still on the substitutes’ bench.

Bournemouth 1-5 Tottenham: The nail in the coffin, definitely. Harry Kane seals his hat-trick!

GOAL ALERT

62: EXCELLENT STOP! Hart rushes out of his area, after adopting a good starting position – to deny Martial’s effort from close range, thwarting the youngster as he only had the goalkeeper to beat. Still goalless.

60: An hour gone, and Otámendi makes an important last-ditch challenge to dispossess Rooney of the ball, just moments before he was lining up for a shot from close-range as the ball was headed down towards his path.

57: Raheem looks frustrated as he trudges off the pitch, Navas will hopefully bring another dimension towards City’s play down the flank – interchanging with de Bruyne on the opposite side.

56: City’s first alteration of the match – as Raheem Sterling is brought off in place of Jesús Navas..

Bournemouth 1-4 Tottenham: Harry Kane grabs his second of the game! Surely the visitors are home and dry now?

GOAL ALERT

55: Sagna looks bemused after giving away a free-kick in his own half, United will happily take charge.

52: Rojo looks understandably frustrated as his inviting delivery is not latched onto by any of his teammates – and the Argentinian has to sprint back in order to trace his runner on the far side with United losing possession in an instant.

50: First five minutes of the second 45, and it’s been all Manchester United thus far. They need to get Ander Herrera and Juan Mata into the match more, and they are gradually – slowing but surely – doing so.

KICK-OFF! No alterations for either side, as the second-half gets underway.

HT: Manchester United 0-0 Manchester City. Goalless at the interval, United have dominated their fair share of possession but City have had a few half-chances themselves..

45+1: Touré flicks the ball away after a succession of headers see the danger quelled..

45: Rooney whips his cross into the box, a dangerous one… Kolarov heads partially clear, corner-kick to come.

44: Martial wins another free-kick, and Kompany is booked for a needless challenge near the touchline – chopping the 19-year-old down to the turf.

40: CLOSE! Yaya Touré looks on as his header flashes narrowly wide of the mark, from de Bruyne’s corner delivery. de Gea was rooted to the spot, the ball trickling wide of his near post.

38: A good tactical foul made by Mata – he slides in late to dispossess Fernandinho, after some encouraging work by the Brazilian, but the referee brandishes a yellow card in the process.

36: Groans reverberate around the ground as Rooney delays his attempted forward pass into Martial, just a tad, and the move breaks down – even though it was looking promising.

34: Luckily for Jones’ sake, the resulting corner-kick comes of nothing.

33: Mix-up in defensive communication between Jones and de Gea, the former heads the ball out for a corner-kick..

They were one-nil down after a minute, but after thirty, they’re three-one up! This time, it’s Erik Lamela with a scuffed finish – Spurs will not care one bit though!

GOAL ALERT

30: Half-an-hour played, no goals yet – but there’s still plenty of time and opportunities for this to change..

29: Martial hopes to skip past Sagna on the right, but the Frenchman has other ideas, making a clean but firm sliding tackle to dispossess his young compatriot.

28: Important interception by Rojo, to press de Bruyne into making a mistake – he loses the ball and United break with men forward.

23: Good footwork from Martial initially to skip past one, two challenges with seeming ease before teeing up Mata to his right. He attempts to cut inside, curls a cross towards Rooney… no luck though!

23: Rooney’s back on the pitch now, warm round of applause from the hosts.. a staple gun was needed, he had a pretty nasty cut on his head then.

21: Ouch! An accidental clash between Rooney and Kompany in the final third – the former looks worse for wear, he’s trudging off the pitch to receive some treatment from the physios on the touchline now.

20: Just highlights how quickly a counter-attack can change a game, within an instant.

19: Kompany clears the ball, and City power forward on the counter-attack within a flash! An excellent touch by de Bruyne to cushion the ball down in one touch for Sterling, who finds the run of Touré in-front of him… but good, solid defending by Rojo puts the powerful Ivorian off his stride, and he loses momentum with the ball trickling out for a goal-kick.

18: Kolarov penalized! A soft foul to give away by the experienced Serbian, who pushes the marauding run of Valencia – he goes to ground, free-kick in a dangerous position now..

2-1, Spurs are ahead! Moussa Dembele the scorer, his first since February after Danny Rose’ long-range effort is deflected into his path, and he has the simple task of slotting home from close-range.

GOAL ALERT

17: The first-half possession stats thus far – United have had 55%, whilst City have had 45% in comparison.

15: Ooooh! An inviting ball is fizzed towards the box and plenty of United heads look to connect with it, but the danger is cleared..

14: Yellow card brandished, the first of the match as ironic jeers all around from the Old Trafford faithful – Fernandinho penalized for a late tackle on Martial, who weaved his way past the Brazilian before being cynically tripped.

12: Nothing comes of the resulting set-piece though, as the danger is averted.

11: Sterling sees an effort blocked, corner-kick to come – de Bruyne to take.

Tottenham are level, from the penalty spot! Harry Kane levels the scoring, and Eddie Howe’s men are suddenly back to square one again.

GOAL ALERT

9: Hart is called into action to deal with a heavy pass-back by Kompany with Rooney applying pressure on the Belgian – but the Englishman controls the ball well and manages to clear the danger shortly afterwards.

8: Kompany is sharp to the danger and clears his lines too, as Martial lurks close to him, trying to win the ball and sprint down the flank.

6: A fast-paced start to the match, United have certainly started brightly, and are enjoying their fair share of possession too.

4: Mark Clattenburg just gives Yaya Touré a talking to, after a cynical challenge to stop Wayne Rooney advancing forward from midfield with the ball at his feet. Probably should have been booked there too, but the referee shows some mercy given the complexion of the fixture itself.

3: Valencia drives forward from the flank, attempting to beat Kolarov for pace in a foot race – his eventual cross is poor though, not troubling Hart or any of the City backline as it veers out of play. Goal-kick to come.

Scottish winger Matt Richie has broken the deadlock at Dean Court! Spurs already a goal down against Bournemouth, after just a minute or so on the Coast.

GOAL ALERT

1: It’ll be interesting to see how Antonio Valencia deals with the various threats posed by the Kolarov-Sterling partnership down the left-hand side, especially considering he’ll have his back to goal and the duo have solidified a good understanding in recent months following Raheem’s summer switch to Eastlands.

KICK-OFF! Manchester United vs Manchester City, and it’s live!

As the two teams are given the once-over by the stadium announcer, you can already sense a feel for the game itself – it promises to be an intriguing match, a fierce Derby encounter for both sides, who will be eager for bragging rights today.

A patient wait inside the Old Trafford tunnel now, as the two sets of players eagerly wait for the referee’s signal.. just five minutes until kick-off!

TEAMS IN THE TUNNEL

Sunderland 3-0 Newcastle: McClaren’s woes were complete after Fletcher notched himself a goal, with a well-taken finish to seal all three points on another excellent victory for the hosts – their first of the new campaign, as well as their first clean sheet under Sam Allardyce. Quite some scenes.

Pre-match nerves are already starting to kick in now from both sides, as they get their warm-up sessions underway. Attendance at Old Trafford continuing to rise as kick-off is fast approaching..

Sunderland 2-0 Newcastle: After completely dominating the first-half’s action at the Stadium of Light, Steve McClaren’s men found themselves with a mountain to climb – as captain Fabricio Coloccini was penalized for a needless shove on Steven Fletcher in the box, and was consequently SENT OFF. Adam Johnson converted from the spot-kick, and it’s now two-nil! Billy Jones‘ first goal at Sunderland, turned in from close-range after a driven effort into his path by Jeremain Lens in the area!

GOAL ALERT

As for the visitors today, there’s a boost as club captain Kompany returns! He partners Nicolas Otámendi, who’ll be making his first Manchester Derby appearance – along with Raheem Sterling and Kevin de Bruyne, who are both being deployed in wide positions this afternoon.

For United, Memphis and Jesse Lingard are amongst the substitutes’ bench.

Strong team line-up’s from both, what’s even more interesting is the fact that City are without Agüero and Silva, yet look increasingly dangerous in an attacking sense..

MANCHESTER CITY: Hart; Sagna, Otámendi, Kompany, Kolarov; Fernando, Fernandinho; Touré, Sterling, de Bruyne, Bony. Subs – Caballero, Zabaleta, Demichelis, Mangala, Roberts, Navas and Iheanacho.

MANCHESTER UNITED: de Gea; Valencia, Jones, Smalling, Rojo; Schweinsteiger, Schneiderlin, Herrera; Mata, Rooney and Martial. Subs – Romero, Blind, Darmian, Carrick, Lingard, Fellaini and Depay.

CONFIRMED TEAM NEWS, as follows..

And lastly, Liverpool vs Southampton – with a 4:15PM start at Anfield.. Jürgen Klopp’s first league fixture at home, with a tough test against Ronald Koeman’s side. LIVE, expertly written by Charlie Malam, is here..

Bournemouth entertain Tottenham – the visitors hoping to bounce back from a frustrating Europa League defeat on Thursday night…read the match preview, courtesy of Jamie Joslyn here..

Three other Premier League fixtures going on… the Tyne-Wear derby, kicks off at midday. Sunderland v Newcastle, live and exclusive here with Jack Gallagher:

Vincent Kompany could feature for the first time in over a month for his side, as the club captain has been in the headlines – risking the frustrations of his club boss by playing for his national side in their EURO 2016 qualifiers, having recently recovered from a troublesome calf injury.

Team news – Man City: As for the visitors, they will be hoping for a positive result with a weakened team to field. Sergio Agüero, the club’s talisman, has been ruled out of action with a hamstring tear, and could still be out of action for three/four weeks yet. As well as the Argentine, midfield maestro David Silva is also sidelined – with an injury he’d picked up during the most recent international break.

The midfield is up for debate, as Morgan Schneiderlin and Michael Carrick can start as the two holding players in-front of the backline; whilst questions will be asked as to whether Memphis Depay starts on the flank, or Wayne Rooney is deployed in that position with Anthony Martial up-top.

Team news – Man United: The hosts prepare for the Derby with only two first-team players out of contention; defenders Luke Shaw (leg) and Paddy McNair (liver problem). Chris Smalling and Phil Jones have been developing a strong centre-back partnership together – so should start in the heart of defence once again. Marcos Rojo can also play at CB, but will most probably shift into a left-back position with Matteo Darmian opting on the right as usual.

Provided they win, it’ll be City’s 50th Derby victory of all-time, as well as their seventh win in the last ten meetings. Although United have dominated the fixture over history, the sky Blues are gradually trying to restore a foothold as the city’s best side.

Another stat for you next..

TWO match previews, one from Harry Robinson (United-based) here.. and Liam Hocking from a City perspective, here..

Confirmed team news to be announced in the fateful hour before kick-off, but time for some pre-match reading?

STAT: City have won just 49 of the Derbies contested between the two sides – United lead the way with seventy, whilst there have been 50 draws too.

PREVIOUS MEETINGS: Their last meeting, was in April earlier this year. Manchester United came from a goal behind, to win 4-2 in-front of the Old Trafford faithful; courtesy of goals from Ashley Young, Marouane Fellaini, Juan Mata and Chris Smalling. Sergio Agüero broke the deadlock in the opening ten minutes after David Silva carved open the United backline at will – before the momentum shifted dramatically and the hosts took control.

Arsenal are at the top of the summit, following their narrow 2-1 win over Everton yesterday evening. City are just a point behind them in second, whilst high-flying West Ham, who’ve already dethroned the Gunners, Liverpool, Manuel Pellegrini’s men and now Chelsea, sit pretty in third place. Louis van Gaal’s Red army make up the top four.

Premier League top four, as it stands after yesterday’s results looks like the following..

Today’s exciting clash is the 170th meeting between the two sides, and with City holding the slight advantage in terms of league standings, United have the upper hand in terms of player availability.

My name is Mosope Ominiyi, and I’ll be taking you through the day’s action as Old Trafford gears up for an intriguing battle between the Red Devils and the sky Blues. Manchester United vs Manchester City live and exclusive on my blog – with KO scheduled for a 2:05PM start. 

Good morning everyone, and welcome to the eagerly-anticipated live commentary of today’s Manchester Derby!