It was an eventful Manchester derby as Manchester United secured a 1-0 win against Manchester City on Wednesday at the Etihad.
However, the scoreline wasn’t enough for the Red Devils to force through a penalty shootout finish to the two-leg semi-final tie, ensuring that the Sky Blues have qualified to the finals of Carabao Cup with an aggregate win of 3-2.
Nemanja Matic had an eventful outing, scoring the sole goal of the night in the 35th minute and then picking up two yellow cards in the second half to be sent off right when United were looking to pick up the attacking spirit and find that elusive goal.
1. City In the Final Again
Manchester City have reached the Carabao Cup finals for the third season in a row. Their previous two encounters were fruitful affairs, winning 3-0 against Arsenal in the 2017/18 season and securing a 4-3 win on penalties against Chelsea last campaign.
It certainly appears that Wembley loves to host the title loving Sky Blues, who are slated to face Aston Villa for the finals on March 1.
2. Solskjaer’s 100 Win Record At The Etihad
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has now secured two wins at the Etihad, defeating Pep Guardiola at his home turf. This is in continuity with the Norwegian’s general managerial fortunes wherein trumping the likes of Guardiola and Mourinho is done effectively but lower placed teams prove to be his Achilles heel.
Further still, the game also happened to be a testament to how well they kept City out, with United paired only with Wolves to keep a cleansheet at the Etihad this campaign.
This win also sures up United’s top-six record so far this season, especially after the loss to Liverpool earlier on. What such a victory does more effectively, however, is place Solskjaer as a competent manager who is well and truly capable of delivering results for United.
3. Fred’s Brilliance In Midfield
The Brazilian has been simply impeccable in the recent games and his derby performance was no different. The numbers were out there to prove his effectiveness, with the 3 key passes and 5 long balls he executed showcasing the creativity that United have barely enjoyed all campaign.
The fans are extremely pleased with the midfielder who has certainly made the case for a regular starting spot even after the likes of Paul Pogba and Scott McTominay return from their injury woes.
4. Forward Needed
This game saw Anthony Martial struggle immensely without the creative presence of Marcus Rashford. Both forwards are toothless without the presence of the other and the erstwhile brilliant Mason Greenwood lacks his clinical touch consistently.
Simply put, United lack a trusted and consistent finisher and talisman to score these goals and Rashford’s injury doesn’t help matters. With mere hours left in the transfer window, United must certainly make a push to acquire such a striker, as this will have a large impact on their top-four hopes.