Manchester City turn in second complete performance in space of four days

Ali Rampling
City are through to the Carabao Cup final
City are through to the Carabao Cup final / Shaun Botterill/Getty Images
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Last time Manchester United met Manchester City at Old Trafford, it was an absolute waste of a Saturday evening.

We'd all whiled many tedious hours during lockdown, but this really was taking the mickey.

Even Roy Keane - usually so shy and retiring when it comes to voicing his opinion - was furious.

The former Manchester United midfielder lambasted the absence of yellow cards and the presence of hugging (not a COVID related concern, he was also incredulous about the shared smiling and chatting).

It was a game that epitomised lockdown: flat, banal, monotonous.

United were fresh from their disappointing Champions League elimination, while City were struggling to consistently hit their irresistible form of previous campaigns.

Fast forward less than a month and the Manchester rivals are suddenly two of the form sides in the Premier League, and they served up a thoroughly entertaining 90 minutes in the Carabao Cup semi finals. It was end to end, intense and high quality.

City looked back to their best during victory over United
City looked back to their best during victory over United / Shaun Botterill/Getty Images

City emerged victorious thanks to goals from John Stones and Fernandinho and were well worth their place in April's final. For the second time in four days, Pep Guardiola's side were absolutely outstanding.

On Sunday, City were back to their sharp, effervescent best as they confidently dispatched of Chelsea within 34 ruthless first half minutes.

United put up more of a fight on Wednesday evening, but eventually succumbed to City's class.

The central defensive partnership of Ruben Dias and Stones were so solid, United largely restricted to half chances from range. The duo have conceded just one goal in their eight starts together - Dias bringing a defensive maturity far above his tender 23 years, and Stones playing with a real newfound self-assuredness.

Building from this solid defensive base, City have begun to return to their exciting, creative attacking best. Phil Foden, having seen his playing time restricted slightly more than would have been expected this season given his post-lockdown form and the departure of David Silva in the summer, followed up his impressive Chelsea display with another eye catching performance.

The way the City academy product can see the most acute of angles and pick passes is a joy to watch. Everything is so sharp and crisp - his low cross to find a marginally offside Ilkay Gundogan inside the first five minutes epitomising his keen eye for a pass and inch perfect delivery to match.

Driving City forward time and time again was the imperious Kevin de Bruyne. When he marauded forward with the ball you were always confident that he would pick the right pass, make the right choice and cause United problems.

An infuriating inconsistency has been a telling theme for the majority of Premier League teams this season - understandable given the congested fixture schedule and unique pandemic circumstances. For City to have turned in two complete performances in the space of four days is a real statement of intent from Guardiola's side.


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