Updated: Sunday, 5th July 2020 @ 5:57am

Tuesday Team Talk: Manchester derby goes global as City gain edge on United in final stages of Premier League title race

Tuesday Team Talk: Manchester derby goes global as City gain edge on United in final stages of Premier League title race

By James Dickinson

It was billed as the single most important game in Premier League history and the biggest Manchester derby ever, a match that would reach an estimated 650 million viewers in over 190 different countries.

Such hyperbole is undoubtedly a product of the modern day game where broadcasters and fans want to feel as if every match is the most important their team will play.

However, this one could almost justify the hype as before this weekend, the Premier League record for international broadcasters at a match was 11, but the magnitude of last night's fixture meant the press areas at the Etihad Stadium swelled with 23.

As everyone in the world undoubtedly now knows, City beat United 1-0 to move top on goal difference, and will be crowned champions if they can match United’s results in the final two games of the season.

Monday night's fixture will not go down as a classic game – in fact, it was a cagey and tense encounter without the attacking verve we are used to from both sides, but it did not completely disappoint as a spectacle.

Vincent Kompany, not just in a physical sense, stood head and shoulders above the rest. The Citizens skipper dealt with Wayne Rooney's threat all game and powered home the winning header on the stroke of half time.

The Belgian is a beast of a man, but provides an intelligent and calm presence in City's back-line and makes a mockery of his non-inclusion on the PFA Player of the Year shortlist. 

It was fitting that during a season where players and managers have hit the headlines mostly for the wrong reasons, that a gentleman of the game like Kompany should have had his say on the outcome of this most influential of matches.

The defender was thanked by City fan Liam Gallagher after the game, who said “Viva La Belgian” in his direction, and all Sky Blue fans will be singing the praises of their skipper today, in between bragging ungraciously to their United colleagues, no doubt.

United can have few complaints as Fergie's team selection baffled many in the build up to kick-off last night. “Park Ji-Sung! No Young or Valencia?” must have been muttered by many a Red Devils fan as they digested the news.

United went to pack the midfield with experience, as Scholes, Giggs and Carrick lined up in the centre, leaving Rooney isolated, frustrated and petulant in his performance up-front.

In fact the striker spent more time arguing with the ref than relishing his personal duel with Kompany, who had the beating of the Englishman all evening.

City on the other hand, set out their stall with an attacking intent. Tevez, Aguero, Silva and Nasri all started, with Yaya Toure also providing a goal threat. It was clear which team was going for the win and who wanted to settle for a draw, and bravery rewarded Roberto Mancini in the end.

Mancini went with players he could trust, and it was telling that Mario Balotelli and Eden Dzeko were not called upon during the 90 minutes. But as the game wore on, the Italian tactician withdrew his side into their shell, trying to protect their advantage.

It was a risky game to play, but United were toothless in their attack, and City were resolute at the back. In the end the home side ended up playing a bizarre 5-3-1-1 formation, but the manager or fans won't care today.

While the pre-match build up would have you believe this was the only game you ever needed to watch again, there are still four fixtures that have a huge role to play in the outcome of the title. And that will be what the away side clung to last night as they slunk away hearing the full voice of their 'noisy neighbours'.

This Sunday could prove to be just as important as the Monday just gone in terms of results, as City travel to an impressive but off-form Newcastle side and United host a potential banana skin in the shape of Swansea.

It is now a test of which side can hold their nerve, but the impetus is certainly with the team who has not won a league title in 44 years. Can City change that statistic and write a new page in English football's history?

We may not even find out until the final game of the season, but that is definitely a positive for a league that is too often all wrapped up early. This title race has been intriguing and exciting this season, and we can only hope the home straight continues to enthral.

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