Stones, Fernandinho 5/10 as Man City's defensive frailties exposed by United
Manchester City slipped 14 points behind Premier League leaders Liverpool after losing 2-1 in Saturday's Manchester derby to United. It's a result that will reverberate around that league, as the visitors dismantled a vulnerable-looking City defence in an impressive first-half spell. The hosts fell behind after 23 minutes, following VAR awarding United a penalty, which was clinically dispatched by the in-form Marcus Rashford.
It was two not longer after, as Anthony Martial beat Ederson at his near post to send the travelling fans into raptures. City rallied in the second half, attempting to launch what would have been a famous comeback, but despite their best efforts, it's a fourth defeat of the season for Pep Guardiola's side, whose chances of retaining the Premier League title are beginning to fade away.
It was a game of few positives for the home side, but if there is one saving grace moving forward, it is surely that they do possess one of the best midfielders in world football in Kevin De Bruyne. With the entire team thoroughly underperforming, De Bruyne continued to test the United backline to the breaking point. Even in dire straits, City have at least one player that they can always seemingly rely on.
It hardly takes a genius to identify City's biggest area of weakness, and the same defensive frailties that have been on display all season were once again visible. Fernandinho simply isn't a centre-back -- and at the moment, it's debatable as to whether John Stones is either.
5 -- Guardiola made just one change from his starting XI that faced Burnley, bringing Stones back into the fold. It was to be a change that backfired spectacularly, with Stones and stand-in centre-back Fernandinho both badly underperforming as United ran riot in the first half. Angelino was similarly woeful, as the Spaniard was caught out of position time and time again.
GK Ederson, 6 -- The Brazilian keeper made a number of smart stops throughout, but he was arguably beaten far too easily at his near post for Martial's goal. Having said that, he was surely the best performer of City's back five, although that isn't exactly saying much.
DF Kyle Walker, 6 -- Early on, Walker was instrumental in denying United, contributing with a number of key interceptions and tackles. That would soon change, however, as the right-back started to be caught out in possession -- and caught out positionally as the game wore on.
DF John Stones, 5 -- A disastrous return to action, in yet another display that will worry both City and England fans. Stones looked off the pace throughout.
DF Fernandinho, 5 -- Saturday's game was a reminder that the Brazilian simply isn't a centre-back, as if anyone needed another. Both Fernandinho and Stones have continued to struggle, and continue to cost City vital points.
DF Angelino, 5 -- As harsh as it may seem for someone so new to the Premier League, Angelino was certainly one of City's worst performers on the night.
MF Kevin De Bruyne, 7 -- As ever, the prodigious Belgium international was the primary creative outlet in a struggling City attack. He will wonder how he didn't manage to drag his side back into the game, after teeing up teammates on numerous occasions, only for the promising situations to be wasted.
MF Rodri, 6 -- The Spanish international failed to impress, doing very little to stem the waves of United counterattacks in the first half. His impact on the game was more notable in the second half, as Rodri forced David De Gea into a couple of decent saves.
MF David Silva, 6 -- A quiet evening from the midfielder, who was solid if unspectacular. Not exactly a vintage display from the Premier League veteran.
FW Bernado Silva, 5 -- The Portuguese international was responsible for giving away United's penalty -- a sloppy half-tackle attempt leaving the VAR with little choice but to award it. He was lively in spells, but was ultimately unable to redeem himself for his first-half mistake.
FW Gabriel Jesus, 6 -- After his heroics in midweek, the Brazilian will surely be disappointed with his efforts. The opportunities that did fall to his feet were ultimately wasted, including a beautiful De Bruyne cross that Jesus steered wide from a great position.
FW Raheem Sterling, 7 -- The England international was persistently City's most potent weapon going forward. His smart work out wide, however, was all too often squandered by teammates who simply didn't show up on the night.
DF Nicolas Otamendi, 7 -- The centre-back was introduced on 59 minutes, following the injury to Stones. The Argentine had little to do defensively, but his goal to make it 2-1 gave City hope with five minutes to go.
FW Riyad Mahrez, 6 -- Guardiola's side looked a more dangerous proposition going forward after his introduction, as his energy raised hopes of a late comeback.