Manchester United were resoundingly beaten at home by Manchester City in Sunday’s derby at Old Trafford. Read on for our analysis of what was a tale of two strikers, and for all the stats from Opta you could need.
The Man Utd Perspective
No one expected Manchester United to beat Manchester City on Sunday, just like no one expected Rasmus Højlund to take to the Premier League like Erling Haaland.
But the one-sided Manchester derby was the first occasion of seeing both players on the pitch at the same time; one had a role in all three of the match’s goals, while the other toiled for another 73 minutes before looking despondent on the bench.
Of course, City’s comfortable 3-0 win over United wasn’t Højlund’s fault; last season’s treble-winners are just so much better than their neighbours. It would also be unfair to compare virtually any striker in world football to Haaland, and no one is suggesting the Danish forward should be registering the kind of numbers to rival City’s talisman.
But seeing the pair in such close proximity for the first time in English football almost summed up the broader chasm between their respective teams, which on the evidence of this season, isn’t likely to be bridged anytime soon.
Højlund can’t be accused of lacking endeavour. He’s shown throughout his first couple of months at United that he’s a willing runner, and when the occasion allows, his running power makes him a real threat in behind.
And there were certainly hints of that on Sunday. With half an hour played, he left much of the City defence for dead as he charged through on goal, but he was knocked off balance at the crucial moment, forcing him wide as he evaded Ederson. A decent cross into Bruno Fernandes followed and he connected with it, but the real danger had passed.
Otherwise, it was another frustrating occasion for the young Dane, who – arguably harshly – conceded the first-half penalty and reached seven Premier League games and 493 minutes without a goal. In that time he’s registered just 11 shots, four on target. That equates to two shots per 90 minutes, half of what Haaland manages.
It doesn’t help that United don’t really look like they know how to play with a striker. Wout Weghorst was widely derided last season for failing to score a single Premier League goal in 17 appearances, but Erik ten Hag’s team don’t create a huge amount of clear-cut chances. This season, their 18 Opta-defined big chances created – an opportunity a player would be expected to score – is more than only nine teams.
United’s creators might argue to takes two to tango. Perhaps Højlund isn’t finding the positions he needs to; after all, he had 25 touches and no shots on Sunday, whereas Haaland had 22 touches and six of those were either a shot or key pass, highlighting just how effective his positioning was.
While the penalty might be seen as a gimme, Haaland also nodded in City’s second and set up their third, leaving him with five goals in three Premier League games against United.
Again, there’s no expectation for Højlund to rival Haaland’s output, but his fruitless start to life at United has largely gone without scrutiny. If Ten Hag doesn’t figure out how to get more from him, the youngster might find himself in a rut that’s extremely difficult to get out of.
The Man City Perspective
Manchester City extended their exceptional recent record against Manchester United with yet another victory at Old Trafford on Sunday. It wasn’t the most one-sided game that they have enjoyed in a crowded field of wins over their local rivals over the past 15 years, but ultimately it was about as comfortable as Manchester derby wins come.
Typically for this fixture, there was more than an element of breathless chaos about the first half, with City controlling long periods (60.7% possession) and United threatening on the break.
The VAR handed City a rather soft penalty midway through the first half, and Haaland stepped up to convert the spot kick and give City a 1-0 lead. In some sense, it was game over at that early stage, because when City take the lead, they very rarely throw it away. This win means they have now won 21, drawn two, and lost none of their last 23 Premier League games when they have scored the first goal – a run that stretches back to their controversial 2-1 defeat in this exact fixture last season.
In truth, it was a fairly even first period, with United attempting four shots to City’s seven. City had struggled to find Erling Haaland’s feet up front during their build-up play in the first half – he attempted only three passes in the first 45 minutes – but as the game wore on, his influence grew. Having nearly doubled City’s lead just before the break, only to be denied from close range by a good André Onana save, Haaland then did score City’s second just four minutes into the second half, the Norwegian heading home from Bernardo Silva’s cross. It was a back-post header that was remarkably similar to the one Onana had saved late in the first half.
For the second 45 minutes, City were at their very best, and United could not contend. The visitors scythed through United time and again, creating chance after chance. They weren’t done at 2-0. Far from it, in fact.
In total, City had 14 shots in the second half to United’s three and ended the game with 3.93 expected goals – the second-highest xG total by any team in a Premier League game this season, after Brighton’s 4.01 xG against newly promoted Luton Town. City did it away from home and against far stronger opposition, though.
Haaland then turned provider to set up Phil Foden for City’s third goal, which meant he has now directly contributed to eight goals (five goals and three assists) in his three Manchester derby appearances in the Premier League. City were three goals up and cruising by this point.
Pep Guardiola’s side have now won nine Premier League away games against United, which is at least two more than any other side has managed, with eight of their nine wins have come in their last 13 visits. They have also now won by three or more goals away to Manchester United on three separate occasions (6-1 in 2011, 3-0 in 2014 and 3-0 in 2023) – the joint-most by any team in the Premier League, along with Liverpool.
The tide turned in Manchester a long time ago, but the dominance City enjoyed in this game really was something. They were back to their best, fully deserved their win and are very much still favourites to win the title… again.
Our Opta match centre delivers you all the Manchester United vs Manchester City stats from the Manchester derby in the Premier League at Old Trafford.
The match centre below includes team and player stats, expected goals data, passing networks, an Opta chalkboard and more. It gives you everything you need to do your own analysis after the game.
Underneath the match centre you can find the official post-match Opta stats on the game as well.
Post-Match Opta Facts for Man Utd vs Man City:
- Manchester United were beaten by 3+ goals in a Premier League home game against Manchester City for the third time (6-1 in 2011, 3-0 in 2014 and 3-0 in 2023), their joint-most defeats by such a margin against a single opponent, along with three versus Liverpool.
- This was Manchester City’s seventh win at Old Trafford under Pep Guardiola, while it’s the first time they’ve won there by 3+ goals under him. Only against Arsenal (8) has Guardiola won more away games against a single opponent in his managerial career.
- Manchester United have lost half of their games in the Premier League this season (5/10 – W5 L5); their most defeats from their opening 10 games of a league campaign since 1986-87 (6).
- Manchester City striker Erling Haaland has scored 20 goals in 23 away appearances in the Premier League, the fewest games needed to reach this tally in the competition, overtaking Kevin Phillips’ record of 20 goals in his first 28 away games.
- Erling Haaland has scored five goals in three Premier League appearances against Manchester United – only Sergio Agüero has netted more against them for Manchester City in the competition (eight goals in 13 games).
- Manchester City’s Bernardo Silva has been directly involved in seven goals in 11 Premier League games against Manchester United (two goals, five assists) – against no other side has he had a hand in more in the competition. Indeed, no player has assisted more goals against the Red Devils in the competition than the Portuguese (5 – level with Eyal Berkovic).
- Manchester City were awarded a penalty in a Premier League match against Manchester United for only the second time (53rd game), while it was their first awarded in a fixture in the competition at Old Trafford (27th such game).
- Jonny Evans (35y 299d) was the oldest defender to start in a Premier League game between Manchester United and Manchester City since Laurent Blanc in November 2002 (36y 355d).