Updated: Friday, 25th May 2018 @ 12:00pm

Tuesday Team Talk: Super Sunday lived up to name as United punish old foes and Manchester City fail to mind the gap

Tuesday Team Talk: Super Sunday lived up to name as United punish old foes and Manchester City fail to mind the gap

By Alex Bysouth

Super Sunday, rarely does the occasion live up to its billing and often is a mid-table ‘clash’ hyped up as something superfluously spectacular.

But this weekend had fans across the country salivating – the country’s two most successful sides in history doing battle at the Theatre of Dreams preceding the English champions waging war on the former Invincibles. 

It is a long time since Liverpool have come close to challenging Manchester United for the title and the gulf in class between the two is as wide as it has ever been in the memories of many.

However, as so often is the case in meetings bearing such fierce rivalry, the archetypal form guide is thrown out of the window.

The hosts dominated the contest for an hour, with goals from Robin van Persie and Nemanja Vidic ultimately securing victory, as the onslaught mounted by Luis Suarez and co proved too little, too late.

It may have taken boss Brendan Rodgers throwing caution to the wind, but after sacrificing holding midfielder Lucas Leiva to introduce Daniel Sturridge and Fabio Borini the visitors pulled rank and began to control proceedings.

In fact, it was former City boy Sturridge who looked most likely to do his old club a favour and prevent United racing ten points clear before the Blues had even kicked off.

But Sir Alex Ferguson has not racked up 12 titles by crumbling to late pressure.

His United side showed great resolve, adding Chris Smalling and Phil Jones to their defensive ranks, inevitably crowding out their probing visitors and restricting Sturridge to a sole consolation goal.

The gauntlet was laid down, already a Super Sunday for United who sat ten points clear – how would Roberto Mancini’s men respond?

For all the bloodshed anticipated amidst a collision of North West colossi, it was City who wheeled into North London in acrimonious circumstances having snatched four key players off their adversary in recent seasons.

Those Citizens spectators who travelled expected a hostile reception – if such an atmosphere is indeed feasible at the Emirates – but were in avenging vociferous voice, intent on recouping all £62’s worth of ticket demanded in the capital.

But seldom had the champions witnessed success on Arsenal turf, their last league victory seized by a Rodney Marsh-inspired contingent at Highbury in 1975.

Indeed in the end it took just ten minutes to rile the home fans, after Laurent Koscielny was dismissed for bundling Edin Dzeko to the ground in the area.

Penalty? Without doubt. Red Card? City were certainly not complaining.

The Bosnian forward looked set to become the first player to score at Arsenal in a Blues shirt since DaMarcus Beasley six years previous, but somehow his spot kick recoiled along the line via a combination of goalpost and Wojciech Szczesny’s legs.

Lady luck appeared to be smiling on the red half of Manchester.

However, with the hosts down to ten men it was all too easy for City and James Milner finally broke his side’s goalscoring duct against the Gunners with a thunderous drive, before Dzeko spared his penalty blushes, tapping in from close range for the visitors second.

In similar vein to United earlier, City had wrapped up this contest by half-time.

But Arsene Wenger sent his troops out fighting, there was certainly no love lost throughout a second half of strong tackles amid a fiery atmosphere.

Perhaps it was the rising tension of Wenger’s fallen heroes which generated a rare cauldron of noise at the Emirates and ultimately culminated in City skipper Vincent Kompany being shown a straight red for what appeared to be a clean tackle.

Mancini felt rightly aggrieved.

It finished a Super Sunday for all concerned in Manchester – Kompany aside – but it is United who still sit smugly on the right side of a seven point gap.

They say, however,  once you have won the Premier League it is in your blood, you never give up, you have the sought after ‘winning mentality’.

City clawed back an eight point margin with six games remaining to win their first title in more than 40 years last season, they have that winning mentality.

So no matter how smugly they sit at the top of the pile this January, Sir Alex will not let his side forget the anguish and despair Aguero’s injury-time winner caused last May.

But then again, neither will Mancini.

Image courtesy of Yahoo UK, with thanks

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