Manchester City is in marauding form at the moment, having won all six of their Premier League matches so far and also their opening fixture in UEFA Champions League. Their performance is in stark contrast with that of their city neighbours, Manchester United.
United had lost three of their last four Premier League matches before defeating Burnley last weekend. The pressure is intensifying on Erik ten Hag with every match, as Pep Guardiola keeps scaling newer heights with his all-conquering team.
Let us now take a look at a couple of areas where Manchester City score swell above Manchester United:
#1. Having a better defense
This is a no-brainer. Manchester United has conceded 10 goals in their six league matches, which does not paint a good picture on their defense irrespective of the quality of their opponents. Andre Onana, their newly signed goalkeeper, has been rather wobbly to compound their woes.
Raphaël Varane and Luke Shaw have been out with injuries in the last few matches and the likes of Lisandro Martinez and Victor Lindelof have hardly inspired confidence. In comparison, the likes of Ruben Dias, Manuel Akanji, Kyle Walker and Nathan Aké have been in supreme form for the Citizens.
In addition to that, Rodri and Mateo Kovačić have done enough to shield their defense, which Casemiro and Christian Eriksen having not quite been able to do. Manchester City also dominates ball-possession against almost every opposition, which means that their defense is under pressure less often. The same cannot be said about Manchester United, who has a counter-attacking style mostly.
Not to mention that neither Eriksen nor Mason Mount, who has been out with an injury of late, is a typical defensive midfielder, with Sofyan Amrabat being signed as their cover.
#2. The number of passes played inside the final third
This is something that Guardiola has apparently coached his players to do. All his wingers like Phil Foden, Bernardo Silva and Jeremy Doku make darting inside runs from the flanks. They also make it a point to exchange passes with their forwards after reaching near the opposition penalty box.
They play short passes to Erling Haaland and Julian Álvarez for the latter to pounce on them and score goals. Haaland and Álvarez have already scored 10 league goals between them this season, which is more than Manchester United’s seven as a team so far.
In comparison, Manchester United wingers are much more one-dimensional and almost always take shots at the goal after coming through the inside channels. Neither Marcus Rashford nor Antony have combined well enough with Rasmus Højlund to have any realistic chance of scoring a goal in the Premier League so far. Højlund, however, scored his first goal in the United shirt against Bayern after having received the ball from a short pass inside the penalty box.
In addition to that, even a creative player like Bruno Fernandes prefers to play predictable long aerial balls into the box from afar into the penalty box, which makes it easier for the opposition defenders to clear.
When one compares to the efforts of Bernardo Silva and Kevin de Bruyne, who play short, ground passes adroitly to break the opposition defense open. No wonder that Manchester City have been much harder to defend against than Erik ten Hag’s team.