Five takeaways from the Manchester derby

Five takeaways from the Manchester derby

Last update: 9 March 2022 Tags: Manchester United, Manchester CIty, Manchester Derby. Categories: Premier League.

Featured image courtesy of Tom Purslow/Manchester United via Getty Images

1.  Manchester City are still favourites for the Premier League title 

There has been a lot of talk in the last couple of weeks that due to Manchester City recently dropping points in the Premier League title race as well as some underwhelming performances, Liverpool might now be the favourites to win the league. Their impressive and ruthless display in the Manchester derby on Sunday reminded everyone why they got into this position in the first place and why they have to be considered favourites to win the league. Their strength in depth is unlike any other team in Europe, so much so that an injury to Ruben Dias doesn't worry them too much. Aymeric Laporte and John Stones have both been on the same level as him this season, Stones has arguably been the best out of all three.

Then you look to City's attack and at the critical stage of the season, they look to have Phil Foden, Kevin De Bruyne, Riyad Mahrez and finally Jack Grealish all in good form. Guardiola may be going up against another manager that has a winning mentality but his City squad still will have the edge over a 38 games season.

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2. Manchester United need a major squad overhaul in the summer

It may go without saying that United need a squad clearout and reset in the summer but the extent to which the overhaul needs to happen became more clear on Sunday. Personally, from the starting 11 that lost 4-1 rivals Manchester City on Sunday, Jadon Sancho, David De Gea, Anthony Elanaga and Bruno Fernandes should expect to be starting games regular next season. There are several other useful squad players like Scott McTominay, Fred and Lindelof. The remaining players; Wan Bisakka, Alex Telles, Harry Maguire, and Paul Pogba should all be moved on in the summer. There are handful more players who were on the bench or not involved who should also be sold.

United have some exciting prospects in the youth academy who could fill some of those voids.

For example, Alvaro Fernandez could become a very capable backup to Luke Shaw, Ethan Laird whose currently on loan at Bournemouth could provide competition for Diogo Dalot and James Garner could be an option in midfield after his impressive loan spell with Nottingham Forrest. The other positions that United are low in numbers or lacking quality in should be filled with young, talented players with a winning mentality, coupled with a desire to learn off coaches and senior players.

3. Top four is now in Arsenal's hands

This is, without doubt, Arsenal's top-four race to lose and after their 5-0 hammering of Everton on Monday night, their north London rivals Spurs are now their biggest challengers. With a point advantage over the Red Devils and with 3 games in hand, Arsenal have an unbelievable chance to pull off something that even the most passionate/biased fan would have found hard to believe before the season began. Let's not forget Arsenal were bottom of the league and on 0 points after 3 Premier League games. They have turned their season around remarkably whilst United have consistently laboured their way through the season. The Manchester club may have the superior squad on paper but football is played on the pitch and on the field, Arsenal have found their purple patch and in turn their identity.

United meanwhile are a lost herd of sheep, feeling sorry for themselves. They lack all of what is needed to be successful and it is up to the club to change their transfer strategy. It's time to show the ruthlessness that is needed to be successful in the modern game. A new manager must come in and be given the freedom to begin a fresh new era, free of past mistakes and rotten players.

4. Varane is critical to United's defence- he's the glue that holds it all together

The stats back this statement up, Manchester United have lost 4-2 to Leicester, 5-0 to Liverpool, 2-0 and 4-1 to Manchester City and 4-1 to Watford without Varane playing. Manchester United simply put concede less and win more when Varane is in the team which emphasises his importance and the stability his experience provides. He has won all there is to win throughout a highly successful career at both Real Madrid and France. Harry Maguire would do well to listen to his advice and watch how he performs on the pitch but this is where part of the problem lies. How is someone who has won nothing and has had a shambolic season the captain ahead of a serial winner like Varane and Cristiano Ronaldo? It undermines the players who have had far greater success and makes the chances of Maguire listening to Varane, far less likely. Now it can't be denied the injury issues that Varane has had all season have been problematic, it is difficult to build a team around a handful of players who have earned a future at the club when one of those players is as injury-prone as Varane. What happens next season if United are more competitive but then when needed most, Varane picks up an injury? The only way he can silence those fair criticisms is by staying fit from now until the end of this season but that isn't in his or anybody's control.

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5. Both Foden and Sancho have the talent to reach the top and be star players for both club and country 

One positive that has shone through in recent weeks has been Sancho finally finding his feet on his return to England and his cooly taken goal on Sunday was further evidence of that. Whilst Phil Foden has had a better all-round season but he too is finding the best form of his campaign and his performance on Sunday was yet another showcase of his special talent. He ran the show at times and was heavily involved in the games second goal. His flick over Lindelof's head was Gascoigne-esque, a moment of magic. Both players have the world at their feet and it is vital they now stay on the right path to inevitable glory.