Manchester City waltzed into Old Trafford and inflicted a painful 3-0 defeat on neighbours Manchester United as an Edin Dzeko brace and a Yaya Toure goal at the death took them 3 shy of Chelsea at the top.
Manchester City fans would’ve been hard pressed to remember when was the last time their team had held such an overwhelming advantage over their crosstown rivals. Almost every respected pundit was expecting to roll over David Moyes’ men in the latter’s own backyard. Their feelings and the home faithful’s worst premonitions were vindicated within 40 seconds. City pinged the ball with ferocious intensity and were in when David Silva broke through the heart of United’s defense but Phil Jones’s last ditch tackle thwarted the Spaniard but it would be to no avail. A few seconds later, Samir Nasri was given time and his shot hit the post but Dzeko was on hand to turn in the rebound. City’s goal was the second fastest in this derby’s long history.
The goal should’ve woken any slumbering men in red but instead it was the men in blue who continued boss proceedings. Silva was at his marauding best in a No.10 role as he dragged the likes of Rio Ferdinand and Jones out of position. City almost doubled their lead a few minutes later as a poor David de Gea clearance was intercepted with Silva feeding Dzeko but the Serbian’s shot was well saved by the Spanish keeper. Moyes had begun with three ‘central midfielders’ – Marouanne Fellaini, Tom Clvereley and Michael Carrick – but neither of the trio were able to slow down City’s Fernandinho and Yaya Toure nor quell Silva from causing all sorts of mayhem. It came as no surprise that the Red Devils finally got back into the game when City turned down the intensity a tad.
Wayne Rooney and Danny Welbeck caused City’s backline some problems as they broke quickly one of which led to an early booking for City captain Vincent Kompany. Half-time brought momentary reprieve for the ones affiliated with red but the carousel turned again at the beginning of the second. City went close from a corner as Kompany ran to the near post and his header fell to Fernandinho but the Brazilian somehow missed from five yards out. Five-minutes later United were once again culpable for failing to track a run to the near post and this time they weren’t so lucky as Dzeko turned in Nasri’s corner. Two nil down, Moyes was finally sparked into a reaction as he brought on Antonio Valencia and then Javier Hernandez hoping for some pace and incisiveness in front of goal.
None were forthcoming.
City completed the rout in added time as Yaya Toure coolly slotted into the far corner but by then the writing had long since been on the wall. A beleaguered Moyes was roundly booed by angry fans who saw a second consecutive 3-0 home loss to a team United should be challenging for domestic honors. The loss condemned United to the worst points haul of the Premier League era but this night was all about City who reminded the home fans that their future looks distinctly blue.
In the evening’s other games, Swansea managed to grab a late equalizer at the Emirates and quashed any remaining title hopes for Arsenal. The Gunners were hoping to respond after a humiliating 6-0 hammering at the hands of Chelsea last week but were again chasing a game after Wilfred Bony headed in his 19th of the season. The Welsh side have somehow fallen into the relegation mire but for most of the first half they looked comfortable handling Arsene Wenger’s men.
Arsenal’s comeback eventually arrived midway through the second half as Lukas Podolski scored the equalizer and then set-up Olivier Giroud with a superb pass as the Frenchman stroked the Gunners into a precious lead. Swansea refused to give in and rallied late on and were rewarded in the 90th minute aided by a huge slice of fortune. Leon Britton and Angel Rangel exchanged a one-two at the edge of the Arsenal box and just when the Swansea midfielder was about to pull the trigger, Per Mertesacker managed to get his challenge in. The ball broke free and ricocheted off first Wojciech Szczesny and then Mathieu Flamini – who was already sliding towards goal – and agonizingly crept in and with it vanished any hopes of Arsenal lifting the Premier League title.