You’re not a die-hard soccer fan, and that’s ok. Most of us aren’t die-hard college basketball fans, yet odds are good we’ll collectively tune in to watch Louisville and Michigan compete for the right to wield scissors. But everyone appreciates a good Derby, right?! And United-City is always an entertaining watch, so I present to you: TOW’s “Average American Guy Talking Soccer” Report.
Man City have struggled as reigning champions, but have also struggled to stay healthy. Manager Roberto Mancini has responded to this adversity by publicly calling out the players who are healthy and griping he didn’t get funds to add more talent in the summer. But given the extraordinary talent/payroll already on his side, I can’t imagine anyone taking Mancini’s complaints too seriously.
It’s not pretty, but United have been grinding their way towards retaking the Premier League crown. Unlike City, United did add talent during the summer, and there’s no questioning Robin Van Persie’s impact in his first year as a Red. United have a goal differential of +38 for the season, an impressive margin for any champion.
As for today’s impact: really there isn’t much. United has a comfortable lead in the table, and City is locked into the top 4. But there is more than just 3 points at stake. City ripped out the hearts of United fans last May, and the rivalry has never been more fierce. While a United win would only pad their healthy lead, City wants this victory if only to prove a larger point: that they aren’t going anywhere, and the title, while it might be settled for this year, does not have a permanent residence at Old Trafford.
When the final whistle was blown, it was Manchester City a goal ahead and three points the better. City had excellent pace from the start, as both teams played an open game early. But as the minutes progressed, it was City who had more solid possessions, while United was held to sporadic efforts on goal.
Scoreless at the half, many wondered if this would be a fourth consecutive 1-0 result for United. But City continued to play explosive, and broke through with a cannon from James Milner six minutes in. But less than ten minutes later, United equalized in ugly fashion- which has been their style during this campaign. Phil Jones knocked a ball off Vincent Kompany for what was ruled an own goal.
This year, City had never lost a match after taking a lead. Conversely, United is the best comeback team in the League, a large factor in their lead in the standings. Something, or someone, had to give. And that someone was Sergio Aguero.
Sergio Aguero started today on the bench as he is slowly returning from injury, but he made his mark with a spectacular finish in the 79th minute. Similar to the finish that won City the crown last year; Aguero raced towards the right post around the defense, and delivered a powerful blast to the near post side.
The final ten minutes was slow and physical, but United were unable to take advantage of any chances. A corner in the 95th was snatched by Joe Hart, and City was able to snatch the win. While United will ultimately win the war, this battle proves that City still has the talent to retake the top spot, regardless of what their manager thinks. If City can stay healthy next season, there is little doubt they will contend for a championship.