With all eyes from across the Premier League falling on Old Trafford, Manchester United mounted a stunning late comeback as they clinched a 2-1 victory on Saturday lunchtime.
Despite falling 1-0 behind as Jack Grealish opened the scoring 15 minutes after the interval, Erik ten Hag’s side put in yet another stellar post-World Cup display on home soil.
With the red-hot Marcus Rashford and Bruno Fernandes bagging both of United’s late strikes in the space of just four minutes, the Red Devils now find themselves firmly sat in pole position to secure a Champions League return.
Along with widening their buffer in the top-four chase, Saturday’s hosts also handed their bitter local rivals a major title blow.
With the defending Premier League champions enduring a nightmare domestic week, Manchester City know that they could once again end the weekend sitting eight points adrift of Arsenal.
In what was a real second-half thriller from Old Trafford, we have taken a look at the key
A crucial blow for City
While it should be Manchester United’s remarkable late comeback that should steal all of the headlines on Saturday afternoon, it will be City’s public slip-up that will have the most attention.
Shockingly crashing out of the EFL Cup earlier in the week following a 2-0 loss away at Premier League relegation scrappers Southampton, Pep Guardiola was calling on his superstars to find an immediate boost here.
However, suffering a nightmare collapse and appearing to struggle with their consistency since returning from the World Cup break, the former Barcelona boss knows that his side face a real uphill struggle in 2023.
Showing some extended attacking issues away from the Etihad this season, City have also handed Arsenal a golden chance to widen their buffer over the chasing pack on Sunday afternoon.
With the record-breaking Erling Haaland drawing another blank at Old Trafford and failing to cause much harm to David de Gea’s goal, the Sky Blues will be desperate for a favour from Tottenham in 24 hours’ time.
Erik is the man
While Manchester United might have opened the 2022/23 campaign with back-to-back Premier League defeats, the Red Devils have enjoyed a stellar rise since finding their feet under ten Hag.
Heading into the World Cup break with a last-gasp 2-1 win away at Fulham, the former Ajax boss has only seen his side continue to shine since returning from the festive interval.
Along with booking their EFL Cup semi-final ticket earlier in the week following a 3-0 win at home against League One outfit Charlton, Saturday’s hosts now find the mood around Old Trafford at a red-hot high.
Causing their bitter local rivals a string of second-half issues here, ten Hag has now seen his high-flying squad win each of their previous nine straight domestic showdowns across all formats.
Laying down a real marker this weekend, it is no surprise that the Red Devils are now sat firmly in the driving seat to claim a Champions League return this season.
Who can stop Rashford?
Sending Old Trafford into overdrive and moving United within two points of their local rivals,
Rashford has almost epitomised ten Hag’s remarkable resurge over the past few months.
Bagging three World Cup strikes as England reached the quarter-finals of last month’s tournament, the 25-year-old has embarked on what has been a monumental free-scoring run since returning from the festive break.
Really becoming United’s leading man since Cristiano Ronaldo’s messy exit, Rashford has now found the net in each of his seven consecutive post-World Cup appearances.
With the Old Trafford hierarchy making it a top priority to get Rashford’s tied down on a bumper long-term deal, United’s homegrown star has also notched eight strikes on that seven-match run.
Enjoying what has quickly become the most clinical spell in his young career, ten Hag has rightfully been filled with praise for Rashford’s remarkable extended flurry.
While it might have appeared last season that the 51-cap international could be on his way out of Manchester, United’s attacking talisman is now spearheading their top-four charge.
Manchester United: De Gea, Wan-Bissaka, Varane, Shaw, Malacia, Casemiro, Fred, Fernandes, Eriksen, Rashford, Martial
Subs: Maguire, Martinez, Antony, McTominay, Garnacho
Manchester City: Ederson, Walker, Akanji, Ake, Cancelo, Silva, Rodri, De Bruyne, Foden, Haaland, Mahrez
Goals: Manchester United: Fernandes (78′), Rashford (82′) – Manchester City: Grealish (60′)
Yellow Cards: Casemiro, Fred, Eriksen
Red Cards: N/A
Referee: Stuart Attwell
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