Manuel Pellegrini's derby selection deserves praise

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Alas, we can all finally relax. Derby day is over and we all return to our daily jobs knowing the kings of Manchester are, in fact, nobody.

As Sunday afternoon's tense, yet dull affair proved, the Reds and the Sky Blues cannot be separated, except by the table that is. But just what have we learned from this mighty duel?

Well, if you're a Citizen, two major plus points stood out more than anything else. Yes, Wilfried Bony was isolated and ineffective. Yes, goal threats were limited given the absence of Sergio Aguero and David Silva. But there was enough on show to be optimistic:


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1. Vincent Kompany and Nicolas Otamendi partnership

Captain fantastic and the new boy; Belgian and Argentinian; it was an intriguing selection from Manuel Pellegrini when the starting lineups were announced.

Everyone expected either one of these colossal centre-backs to partner the equally giant Eliaquim Mangala, who has started the campaign promisingly - far from his shaky and erratic form of last season.

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However, there was a twist. The one City fans call 'the true gentleman' opted for an untested pairing, the Blues' best on paper, but would they settle in time to come up against the Red Devils?

They most certainly did. All game, Kompany and Otamendi, apart from being kept on their toes by the dazzling Anthony Martial at times, looked solid and composed.

The big Belgian conquerer consistently mopped up crosses swung into the Citizens' penalty area, whilst Otamendi kept tabs on Wayne Rooney superbly all afternoon - a display earning the Argentine man of the match.

All in all, a great sign for the City, as the title challenge enters one its most crucial periods - a fully fit Kompany and his new partner look set to halt any attacking threat posed by any opposition.

2. Fernandinho and Fernando: the Brazilian shield

Half of the credit for the away side's stubbornness has to go to the two back-four protectors, South American stalwarts Fernandinho and Fernando. Ever since  Silva's untimely injury, Sky Blue supporters have been crying out for their Ivorian tank (Yaya Toure) to be played in a more advanced role where he has proven just how effective he can be.

They got their wish on Sunday, and although Toure was constantly crowded out by a hard-working United midfield, the Brazilian duo defended the onslaught wonderfully.

Closing down, sprinting into space and man marking was their task of the day and they were superb. Fernandinho pressed brilliantly, chasing the on-rushing United midfield, with Fernando providing deep cover to support an often exposed City back-line.

To sum up a defensive masterclass from Pellegrini's side, surely this show of solidarity means they should continue to play in this formation until Silva returns? Surely?

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Premier League
Manchester United
Manchester City

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