Roberto Mancini named an expected line up with Tevez supporting Aguero up front and Zabaleta instead of Richards at right back. Ferguson meanwhile made four changes to the team which started against Everton. He dropped Rafael and the injured Evans in defence and brought in Jones and Smalling. Park and Giggs were also named in the starting XI instead of Valencia(Surprisingly) and Welbeck to play with 5 across the middle. Both Park and Giggs have been poor this season,with the former looking unfit having not played for some time now.
Although it looked United were set up to grind out a draw,in the first 20 minutes,they were pressing quite high up the pitch. They were hoping to win the ball early and start a counter attack. This was working very well as City failed to get into their passing rhythm and the game took some time to settle down. But United couldn't make much of it either,and their intensity as expected didn't last for a long time and then City began to dominate possession.
City Full Backs
Both Zabaleta and Clichy were pushing onto the space vacated by Silva and Nasri who drifted inside and this caused United problems. Giggs was tucked inside allowing Zabaleta time and space on the right and at times on the left Nani looked like he was least bothered about his defensive duties as he let Clichy on runs past him. Nasri and Zabaleta were combining effectively on the right but strangely they were crossing the ball into the box. Both the City strikers were dwarfed by the United CBs and there was no way they were going to out jump them and score. City were in control for much of the first half and were dominating possession but failed to play the killer pass in the final third.
Vincent Kompany managed to escape the attentions of Chris Smalling and then bullet-ed a header straight past David De Gea into the goal. This goal opened a debate on Twitter on the merits and demerits of Zonal marking and Man-marking. Zonal marking needs time to adapted and to be implemented effectively,but ones a team gets it right,it is highly effective(Valencia under Benitez). Of course at times,teams employing zonal marking tend to concede some silly goals(But,that again is down to poor concentration). In zonal marking where the defenders are marking a zone,if the defensive team gets it right then they don't concede,where as in man to man marking,you are dependent on the opposition. An intelligent player can escape his marker(like Kompany did) and when he manages to jump at the right time,it is usually a free header. Having said all of this,David De Gea should have probably come out and punched the ball as it was in his zone(The previous corner,he did come out but couldn't get to the ball).
Second Half Changes
Ferguson waited until the 58th minute to make changes,but Mancini responded well by not allowing United any space in the final third. United were beginning to have more possession but City were tight and compact at the back. With introduction of Richards and later Milner,Mancini clearly didn't want to give the United wingers any space and time. And as Ferguson pointed out,United's crossing was poor,even when they did get into good positions.
Wayne Rooney has had a prolific season in front of goal,but his all round game especially in recent times has been poor. When a opposition center back tracks him all the way(like against Bilbao),which Kompany did pretty effectively yesterday,he gets frustrated and doesn't have the same influence on the game. His passing and touch has been poor in recent weeks and it doesn't bode too well for England.
Some Stats(Via WhoScored)
Dribbles won City-14 United-1
In tight and cagey affairs like these,you need a bit of magic to unlock defences which United clearly lack at the moment.
Michael Carrick Vs Gareth Barry
Tackles and interceptions
Maybe some would feel that Barry had a better game than Carrick,but the Geordie had a more difficult task against the likes of Yaya Toure. Would be interesting to see who Hodgson(If he becomes the manager) would choose for England.
City were dispossessed 26 times and United 13 times.
This shows that even when United had chance to quickly counter either their transition from defence to attack was poor(1st half) or City were organised and had numbers behind the ball(2nd half).