If Sunday’s Manchester derby was remarkable for anything, it was for how lopsided and uncompetitive it was rather than merely the goals. In the highest-scoring Manchester derby history, Manchester City thrashed Manchester United 6-3 at Etihad Stadium.
The six goals scored by City were all scored by Erling Haaland and Phil Foden, who each had a hat trick. Antony and Anthony Martial tried their best to keep United from being completely humiliated. Foden scored his first career hat trick during this game.
Man United supporters may have arrived at the Etihad Stadium on Sunday with the expectation of beating Man City after victories over Liverpool and Arsenal this season, but any optimism was dashed after only eight minutes.
Before Phil Foden’s opening goal, Pep Guardiola’s team was already in control, and United was fortunate to be only 4-0 down at the break after City had managed 15 efforts on goal.
After early-season losses to Brentford and Brighton, United has shown flashes of improvement under Erik ten Hag, particularly against Liverpool and Arsenal, but this was a harsh reality check.
Guardiola fielded a center-back pairing of Nathan Ake and Manuel Akanji while Ten Hag selected the strongest team he had Guardiola had to deal with the loss of first-choice midfielder Rodri due to a calf injury. However, City was still far too strong and won an eighth straight home league game while scoring at least three goals to match a run last seen by Tottenham in 1965.
Ten Hag and United were reminded that it will be some time before they are truly prepared to compete for the title by Guardiola’s club, who once again showed why they are by far the best in the Premier League. On that day, City relegated their opponents in the local derby to the background.
If there was any doubt about Erling Haaland’s ability to perform in crucial situations and against United in the Premier League, the Norwegian answered it decisively.
In the Community Shield back in August, Haaland had the opportunity to score his first goal for Man City against Liverpool, but he missed it. However, in his first league game against a traditional top-six rival, he took the chance to dispel any remaining doubts by scoring his third hat trick in his last three home league games.
The 22-year-old would have been quickly branded as a bully if he had continued to score hat tricks against teams like Nottingham Forest and Crystal Palace, but in this match, he defeated a center-back duo of Lisandro Martinez and Raphael Varane, who had been praised since teaming up for the victory over Liverpool more than a month ago.
Since joining City from Borussia Dortmund in the summer, Haaland has scored 17 goals in just 11 games, scoring in each of his last eight club outings. He will have the opportunity to atone for his blank against Liverpool at the King Power Stadium on October 16, when City travels to Anfield. Five-time Champions League champion Casemiro cost United £60 million to bring him to Old Trafford in the summer, but he hasn’t played much.
There is a case to be made that Ten Hag wanted to stick with the team that had won four consecutive league games prior to the derby, but if there was ever a time for Casemiro’s wisdom and poise, it was when he faced Guardiola’s champions.
Gundogan, Bernardo, and De Bruyne outplayed United in the middle of the field without Casemiro, especially early in the first half when Jack Grealish and Bernardo teamed up on Diogo Dalot down the left to generate chance after chance.
Questions regarding whether or not Ten Hag wanted Casemiro in the first place will be raised the longer the Brazilian fails to join the club. Frenkie de Jong of Barcelona was Ten Hag’s top aim for the No. 6 position in the summer, and Casemiro’s strengths are considerably different from those of the Dutchman.
When United plays their next league game at Goodison Park against Everton in a week, all eyes will be on the lineup to see if Casemiro will finally get a Premier League start.