Manchester United’s stunning revival under Erik ten Hag continued with a statement 2-1 victory over Pep Guardiola’s Manchester City on Saturday afternoon.
The victory over their city rivals puts United six points behind Premier League leaders Arsenal, who face Tottenham in the north London derby tomorrow.
Ten Hag set United up to soak up pressure and spring rapid counter-attacks in a tactical approach reminiscent of Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s biggest successes.
City eventually broke through, opening the scoring on the hour mark with Kevin De Bruyne crossing for substitute Jack Grealish to head home. But United fought back with a quickfire double late on, first through Bruno Fernandes and then Marcus Rashford.
There was some controversy about the equaliser, with Rashford clearly in an offside position, but the match officials deemed that the forward was not interfering with play as Fernandes ran in behind to slot home.
“I can see it from the other side as well. The rules, it’s a confusing moment for the back line of the opponent. The rules say Marcus didn’t touch the ball and he wasn’t interfering. Bruno came from the back – but I can see it from the other side,” Ten Hag told BT Sport after the final whistle.
“The first half we played very well. We defended very well and broke in good opportunities. We were really happy at half-time,” the Dutch coach added, responding to his team’s performance overall.
“After half-time we had to sub Martial, he had some complaints, and the game changed. City came in, we were not proactive. They scored. The spirit of the team is so huge, the belief is there that the game is 90 minutes and we can fight back.
“I’m really happy with the performance of the team.”
Here are 10 impressive stats that show how United are definitely back on the right track.
– Man City dominated 70% possession but mustered just five shots (to United’s eight), while Grealish’s header was their only effort on target. Meanwhile, Ten Hag’s side had four shots on target.
– The scoreline was reflective of the balance of chances. Manchester United registered 2.07xG (expected goals) while City registered 0.76xG – via xG Philosophy.
– United registered 15 tackles, while City mustered just six. Fred (3), Tyrell Malacia (3) and Aaron Wan-Bissaka (4) accounted for 10 of those tackles.
– Erling Haaland was reduced to just 19 touches of the ball (eight in the first half; 11 in the second). That’s the fewest of any player on the pitch that completed 90 minutes. This is the first time this season the Norwegian has failed to score in two successive matches.
– Fred completed 31 of the 34 passes he attempted, registering a 91% passing accuracy – the highest of any United player. The Brazilian also registered three tackles, two dribbles and one key pass.
– Rashford has scored in all seven of his appearances for United since the World Cup break, with eight goals and two assists in that time. No player in Europe has scored more goals since the World Cup. Since returning from Qatar, he’s averaged a contribution to goal every 51.6 minutes.
Marcus Rashford is at it again! 🔥
Alejandro Garnacho and Man Utd's number 10 combine to put the home side 2-1 up in the derby! ⚽ pic.twitter.com/kaUSgVv1iL
— Football on BT Sport (@btsportfootball) January 14, 2023
– Rashford has now scored in each of his last nine appearances at Old Trafford, a run stretching back to October. It’s also the first time that United’s No.10 has scored in four successive Premier League matches for the first time in four years (January 2019).
– Since losing 6-3 to City in the reverse fixture against Man City in early October, Manchester United have picked up 26 points from 11 games (eight wins, two draws, one defeat). That’s the most of any side in the Premier League and seven more points than City over the same period.
– That run coincides with Casemiro’s run in the team. The Brazil international made his first league start in the following match and has played almost every minute since, starting each of the 11 Premier League matches over that run.
– United have now won nine consecutive wins in all competitions. That’s their longest winning run since Sir Alex Ferguson was in charge.