54 mins – Man Utd 0 Man City 1
That’s Stones’ sixth ever Man City goal. I remember when it seemed like his career at City was done! He’s done really well go get back to this level.
CANCELOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO wow that was close. Cancelo has just put his foot through a shot from 25/30 yards at an angle and had it been a yard lower would have taken off the net. Henderson knew he was beaten.
Man Utd 0 Man City 1
A free-kick wide left, Stones gets ahead of Maguire and Stones and just knocks it on off his thigh! United’s line didn’t hold very well at all there…
47 mins – Man Utd 0 Man City 0
Shaw sends a free-kick into the area which City deal with fairly easily, then try to break but United calm the move down.
Pray for the linesman
That half was ridiculously fast and something we often don’t think about is the poor linesmen charging up and down the touchline to keep up with play.
Great fun. End to end, really quick, both teams have dominated parts of the match (City for most of it) but either team could win it. That half has flown by, unlike most lockdown football of late!
45 mins – Man Utd 0 Man City 0
United still struggling to get hold of the ball but that doesn’t mean it’s going to plan for City. Guardiola’s just been pictured shaking his head in despair at how his team is playing.
42 mins – Man Utd 0 Man City 0
City so good at opening United up with clever runs dragging defenders out of the way so others can run in behind but it really feels like this is a team of incredibly talented creators and nobody is there to finish off any of the passing moves they’re putting together.
40 mins – Man Utd 0 Man City 0
Lovely play by City. Patient passing, working positions, finding players in space and keeping United confused with where the next ball is going. Foden and Mahrez both get great low crosses into the box but nobody is there to take a shot. Aguero would make a huge difference here.
37 mins – Man Utd 0 Man City 0
Sterling is in the area from the right, one v one with Shaw, he goes down! Sterling runs into him, never a penalty. The referee agrees and immediately waves away the claims. Literally waves them away using the international referee sign for waving away claims.
36 mins – Man Utd 0 Man City 0
Ruben Dias has just taken a goal kick. A short pass inside to the goalkeeper, who gives it back to him… and City work from there.
United have grown into this game.
33 mins – Man Utd 0 Man City 0
Fred sends a brilliant ball over the top for Rashford to run onto in the centre near the box but he misses his first touch! That was the chance!!!!
Steffen collects the ball and City survive, but they’re really not enjoying Rashford’s runs in behind from the right wing and the high line they’re deploying has to get every single offside trap right.
32 mins – Man Utd 0 Man City 0
United are really focusing on patterns of passing to get Rashford one v one with Zinchenko. He’s clearly offside after the latest but again play continues until Pogba flies into a tackle and the ball is booted out. Offside.
29 mins – Man Utd 0 Man City 0
Solskjaer makes one of his rare adventures to the touch line from his seat to issue some coaching instructions to the players, something about using the shoulders or moving more… I have no idea. But he applauds them afterwards so it must have been good.
27 mins – Man Utd 0 Man City 0
Brilliant from Rashford. First, Pogba picks the ball out of the air on his chest – great skill – then passes over a defender to Fred, who controls, takes his time and waits for the run before switching out to Rashford on the right. He controls, takes on Zinchenko and you can tell the left-back is in trouble as a really clever early touch takes the ball one way to allow Rashford to cut back across him. He takes the shot but Dias comes flying in with a slide tackle to block it. Brilliant defending.
GOOAAAA urghgghg it’s offside again
Foden goes just a little too early from the left wing behind the defence, the pass is perfect, and Foden gets all the way to the goal, stays calm and finishes really well. None of it matters.
23 mins – Man Utd 0 Man City 0
United defending as a straight 4-4-2 now, Pogba on the left, Fernandes right. City in total control of the ball but United will be dangerous on the counter – this might even be part of their thinking.
20 mins – Man Utd 0 Man City 0
Cancelo is a right-back playing central midfield in a 2-3-2-3 next to Fernandinho… but the ball goes backwards and suddenly he’s at right-back again. The touchmaps for most of City’s players after this game won’t tell you a thing about their position.
17 mins – Man Utd 0 Man City 0
City have been superb so far. The passing is so quick, thumped, purposeful, and the movement is constant. The shape is something like a 4-1-4-1 but the individuals in that keep changing. Fernandes almost catches out the high line with a pass from deep but Rashford just can’t beat Zinchenko to it.
14 mins – Man Utd 0 Man City 0
DE BRUUUUUUUYNE HITS THE POST! Henderson is beaten as KDB takes a shot from outside the box but the ball smashes back off the frame of the goal. This is a great game, both teams trying to attack.
Stones makes a decent slide tackle on Martial, who throws himself to the floor in the penalty area and honestly, I believe, should be booked for trying to milk a foul out of it. Pathetic.
13 mins – Man Utd 0 Man City 0
Fernandes gets tackled by Fernandinho near the Man Utd box and, of course, dramatically yells in pain, then gets up and demands the referee does something about it, shouting “and if you don’t I’m telling mum”. I can’t confirm that last part but it looked like he said that.
11 mins – Man Utd 0 Man City 0
Rashford shoots first time from the edge of the area, curling the ball towards the top corner and forces a save. Great shot.
All the way through the 8th minute, Sky Sports feed fake crowd noise for a minute’s applause in memory of Colin Bell. I think we have to say that’s a touching tribute but isn’t it slightly odd that it’s digital?
9 mins – Man Utd 0 Man City 0
OK, I’ve figured it out now. City are a 4-1-4-1 with the two central midfielders ahead of Fernandinho charging into spaces when possible and the full-backs tucking into midfield.
8 mins – Man Utd 0 Man City 0
What a start! Two goals which both don’t count.
Cancelo has just made a horrible error, passing blindly inside to Pogba rather than his teammate who was miles away. Pogba charges forwards but it’s an awful cross straight out for a throw with Martial and Rashford ahead of him.
Ruben Dias has had a bit of a nightmare start too, passing long straight out for a throw.
Now City have scored! They rush players forward, United look to be all over the place defensively – no shape at all – and Foden hits a low cross to the six yard box which Gundogan turns in. He’s just offside.
5 mins – Man Utd 0 Man City 0
Foden is so quick it’s ridiculous. I think it’s because he’s such a clever player that we almost assume he’s only going to be quick in tight spaces but he can outpace almost anyone at full sprint. Such a great footballer.
Guardiola’s come up with some weird tactical ploy and I’m struggling to work it out without being able to see the entire pitch.
Ooooooohhhhhhh that is tight. A long pass forward, Dias gets completely caught out and Rashford runs in behind. He shoots low, the goalkeeper saves, it bounces off Stones and goes into the net but the flag is up!
1 mins – Man Utd 0 Man City 0
Early on it looks like Foden is playing wide left and De Bruyne is playing a slightly right of centre attacking midfield role. Sterling is the centre forward at the moment… as is Mahrez. I have no idea what this is yet. It’s changed again, with Sterling now right, Mahrez central and De Bruyne near by.
After a lovely minute’s silence in memory of the great Colin Bell, the players are ready to start. Manchester City get the game going after taking a knee.
Colin Bell tribute
City players all wearing old style shirts with the number eight on the back as they come onto the pitch.
OGS reveals his pre-match team talk technique
What’s the last thing you’ll tell them before they leave the dressing room?
“Go out and enjoy yourselves”.
I’m assuming that’s mixed with [pump fists].
What sort of player is Fred?
Quite a confusing wee player is Mr Fred. He’s not a defensive midfielder, nor is he an attacking one. Mr Fred lives in a very strange, quite modern box of a midfield shuttler, who pings around between other players to link passes and cover space.
McTominay, meanwhile, is not a defensive player either. He likes to dribble and get forward, something like an attacking midfielder trapped in the body of a centre-back.
How the game might look tactically
I thiiiiink this might be how the game looks. United are a 4-4-2 which will be a diamond, a 4-2-3-1, a 4-2-2-2 etc but basically Bruno Fernandes is a false 9 or 10 in a 4-3-3 really. Man City are essentially the same. United will counter-attack, City will push and have actual wingers.
Zinchenko will move inside the pitch when Sterling or Foden go wide, Cancelo will get high up the pitch to double up on Pogba and Shaw with Mahrez. I think that’s why Gundogan will be right midfield, to track Pogba and fill spaces left by Cancelo’s runs.
Guardiola on Colin Bell
Sad day, especially for his family. This club belongs to the players who made this club what it is, thanks to personalities like Sir Colin Bell.
Could Lionel Messi really move to Man City?
I‘m not sure winning the League Cup will make much of a difference to Messi’s decision making, so don’t panic yet Manchester City fans, but some of the things he’s said recently make it sound like maybe, honestly, possibly, he might actually move this time.
James Ducker has this piece on that interview he gave recently:
The only person who might panic is Riyad Mahrez, who might find it a little difficult to keep his place on the right wing if Messi did sign in the summer.
The teams are in and Man Utd are going with a midfield diamond. This is a 4-4-2 with Fernandes, Pogba, Fred and McTominay all in there. The other interesting name in that lineup is Dean Henderson, who starts ahead of David De Gea again!
Manchester City have gone for their usual 4-3-3/4-2-3-1 and have given their own reserve goalkeeper a game!
The League Cup
Hello there and welcome to the Manchester derby, League Cup semi-final edition. It’s been sponsored by all sorts of different companies in the past, from sugary drinks to more sugary drinks, to beer, etc and now it’s sponsored by Carabao, which as we all know, is Zulu for ‘Magic of the Cup’.
Will we be treated to the magic of the cup this evening? Nobody knows. The most likely scenario is Man Utd try to beat Man City on the counter, while Man City try to pummel their opponents into submission with flowing attacking moves like we saw against Chelsea. The 20 minute spell in which Pep Guardiola’s players tore apart Frank Lampard’s in the Premier League will worry their domestic rivals. How do you stop it?
“We have developed a lot in the last 12 months from last season’s EFL Cup semi-final,” says Ole Gunnar Solskjaer.
“It is not just a case of learning how to win them, it is earning the right to go all the way. But we are confident and we are in good form. There are no excuses.
“You never know what kind of system Pep’s going to come up with but you know you’ve got to defend really well against City.
“It’s hard to keep the ball in their half because they find a way of overloading, so you’ve got to be brave and compact and trust your players.”
United are at their best when able to counter-attack quickly with their fast forwards supported by Bruno Fernandes, getting into situations where they can either score or win penalties, something which Guardiola will be acutely aware of. Chelsea left themselves vulnerable far too often City’s 3-1 win and United won’t – they already learned their lesson with that humiliating goal conceded in the Champions League against [TEAM FROM ISTANBUL].
This game should be a lot of fun, kick off is 7:45pm, and we have live analysis and updates throughout right here.