Chris Smalling was key to Manchester United keeping a clean sheet against their local rivals, Manchester City.
City had scored 24 times in just 9 Premier League games, but barely against Manchester United, they barely got a sniff at goal. Credit here goes to the aggressive style of closing down that United played.
Big play makers for the Blues, like Touré, De Bruyne and Sterling were not allowed any wiggle room to work a key pass or shot on goal.
Speaking to MUTV, Super Chris Smalling said that the two teams cancelled each other out in yesterday’s Manchester Derby:
“I think it’s one where it could have been a little bit more [exciting]. Both teams were very compact and well organised, and there weren’t too many chances.
“I think we probably edged it overall with the chances we had in the second half. Towards the end, you could tell that, for the last 20-30 minutes, they were hanging on and bringing on defenders, so it was on us to really push forward and we did.
“On another day, the chances we had might have gone in.”
The 0-0 was the first time in 5 years that Manchester United had kept a clean sheet against their local rivals. Smalling was very proud of this achievement:
“I think if we came into today’s fixture and, if someone told us we would get a clean sheet, we would have taken your hand off.
“They’re a very fast, attacking team and I think they were set up for the counter attack, especially with Raheem and De Bruyne who are very quick, so we had to be on our toes.”
United are now behind Manchester City, Arsenal and West Ham United in the race for the Barclay’s Premier League, but are only 2 points behind the leaders. Smalling knows that the Red Devils are still contending for the title.
“We can always be up there or thereabouts and, when we come up against the teams who are around us – obviously Arsenal was a blip – and against the other teams, we have quite a good record.
“I think we can take a lot of confidence from this game. We more than held our own and we had the better of the chances, so I think we are still in the title race.”
Chris Smalling was the only red Devil with a shot on goal all game. It came late on, when he had to stretch and outmuscle a defender to get a toe on the ball. It trickled towards goal but Hart got made a late fingertip save to deny his fellow Englishman.