Bruno Fernandes flicks the ball.

Talking points from the Manchester derby

Saturday 12 December 2020 19:31

Manchester United and local rivals City contested a low-key goalless draw at Old Trafford on Saturday evening.

It was the first 0-0 between the clubs since April 2017, while the last scoreless local affair at Old Trafford came back in November 2004, as the two teams cancelled each other out.

We take a look at the main topics for discussion on the back of the game...


Paul Pogba was handed a place in the line-up with Ole admitting he was impressed by the midfielder's physical output at West Ham United, which proves he is back in peak condition after illness and injury. Fred's inclusion was the other change to the XI on duty at RB Leipzig, with Alex Telles and Nemanja Matic dropping to the bench. Harry Maguire skippered the Reds on his 150th career appearance. There was a surprise in City's ranks as Sergio Aguero failed to even make the bench, despite scoring on his comeback from injury against Marseille in midweek. The Argentinian has a bout of gastroenteritis. 


The midfielder was keen to make an impression after the last we saw of him in the red shirt was receiving a red card against Paris Saint-Germain in the Champions League. However, the busy Brazilian was clearly hampered by an early collision with City star Kevin De Bruyne. He went to ground holding his hip and remained in some discomfort for some time afterwards, eventually requiring treatment in the 14th minute. The South American managed to soldier on but perhaps was not feeling 100 per cent. 


City are known for their ability to defend from the front but United adopted this tactic to good effect in the first half. First-team coach Kieran McKenna was urging the forwards to not give Ederson and his defenders a moment's piece, with Bruno Fernandes particularly adept at harrying and attempting to win possession close to the City goal.


Luke Shaw, taking a leaf out of fellow left-back Telles's book, swung over a couple of really dangerous corners. One was flicked on by Victor Lindelof, only for Scott McTominay to be unable to reach it properly on the stretch at the far post. Another picked out Maguire but the captain directed his header over the bar. 

United 0 Manchester City 0


The two rivals went head-to-head in the Manchester derby but there was no winner at Old Trafford.


Referee Chris Kavanagh, who was in charge for the VAR-dominated win at Brighton & Hove Albion earlier in the season, pointed to the spot, after a small delay, when Marcus Rashford was clearly up-ended by Kyle Walker inside the box in the 48th minute. There were no issues with the decision but the officials at Stockley Park decided Rashford had strayed marginally offside in the build-up, when looking to latch on to Fernandes's pass. Sometimes it goes your way, sometimes it doesn't but the technology denied us at a crucial time on this occasion.


Edinson Cavani remains out with injury but fellow striker Anthony Martial was back, coming off the bench for Mason Greenwood in the 74th minute. The French forward is enduring a rare barren run in the Premier League, and he was unable to end a run of eight games without a goal at this level - although he did net a couple of times in the Champions League - in difficult circumstances. It was a little surprising Anthony was the only man to come off the bench, while City also only made on change - Ferran Torres replacing Riyad Mahrez.


After Tuesday's trip to eastern Germany for the Champions League clash with RB Leipzig, perhaps it was natural that United appeared to tire as the second half wore on. A lot of effort had gone into pressing in this match as well and, as the clock ticked towards the closing stages, Solskjaer's men became rather entrenched in our own half. City certainly carried the greater threat as the score remained goalless.


It could be argued the absence of supporters has cost us in a number of home matches this term - Chelsea and Arsenal were other notable occasions. Without the raucous backing of the fans, there was definitely something lacking from the usual derby occasion and, in this behind-closed-doors environment it was never more telling. Hopefully, we will be able to welcome at least a small number of supporters back in the very near future but the spectacle certainly suffered as a result.

Anthony Martial was the only substitute used by Ole Gunnar Solskjaer.


It's only three defeats in our last 25 Premier League games, since last February, when Bruno made his debut. We remain a point clear of the Blues in the table and, ahead of games with Yorkshire sides Sheffield United and Leeds United, there is a chance to retain a push towards the top of the standings. Who will be happier with the point? Perhaps we won't know until the end of the season.