Derby demolition

For Manchester United manager David Moyes, the 4-1 thrashing at the hands of cross-town rival Manchester City could have been much worse, in fact worse than the 6-1 thrashing United received against the same opponent two seasons ago.

“I’ve been here (Etihad stadium) man y times with Everton and don’t think I’ve suffered a defeat like this with Everton in my time.” For Manchester United manager David Moyes, the 4-1 thrashing at the hands of cross-town rival Manchester City could have been much worse, in fact worse than the 6-1 thrashing United received against the same opponent two seasons ago.

That it didn’t happen is in good measure due to City taking the foot off the pedal five minutes into the second half after being ahead 4-0. Until then as the manager said, his side was “second to everything.” Robin van Persie missed out due to a groin problem and it was revealed what a diminished side it is without the talismanic forward. Manuel Pelligrini’s wards won with such ease that it will now prompt an instant scrutiny of Moyes. His decision to keep Shinji Kagawa out yet again was baffling to say the least.

For City, the Samir Nasri and Aleksandar Kolorov combination on the left side wreaked havoc. Valencia and Ashley Young, on either flanks, seemed listless. The absence of Rafael and Fabio, who could have at least pegged back Kolorov a bit, clearly showed. Valencia ended up making matters worse by being largely a non-entity and marking nobody. It was no surprise then how much up the pitch Kolorov was playing.

Sergio Aguero opened the scoring with a splendid volley after Kolorov crossed from Nasri’s clever flick. Right on the stroke of half-time, when it seemed that United were finally getting a foothold by keeping the ball more, Yaya Toure scored. The demolition was complete five minutes into the second half with Nasri rounding it off with a neat volley of his own. Wayne Rooney’s superb free-kick late in the match might have been the best of the goals, but will mostly be a footnote in what was a humiliating defeat.

City had struggled to score against a resilient Stoke City side, but the latter’s defence was finally breached by Arsenal. It was Mesut Ozil’s home debut and he didn’t disappoint. He had a hand in each of the three goals in a 3-1 victory.

Before the transfer window closed many were surprised that the north London side didn’t add a striker. When Olivier Giroud, the only fit striker, struggled to add to his five goals this season, it did raise some apprehension.

But the goals still came and that was the most heartening of things. Stoke has a reputation for strangulating sides with its physical game — Arsenal know it all too well — but not this time.

All three strikes were from set-pieces. Welshman Aaron Ramsey opened the scoring with his seventh goal of the season, in all competitions. Geoff Cameron equalised for Stoke but a corner and a free-kick each from Ozil were turned in by Per Mertesacker and Bacary Sagna.

Ozil was given a standing ovation when he was substituted and in came Mikel Arteta, making his first appearance following a thigh injury. Finally, things seem to be falling in place for Arsene Wenger and his men.

Elsewhere, Liverpool just fell short of its attempt to make its best ever start to a Premier League campaign when it lost to Mauricio Pochettino’s Southampton 1-0. “The only positive from today is that Luis’s (Suarez) suspension is over,” said manager Brendan Rodgers and it was hard to disagree.

Southampton showed far more purpose throughout. If not for some heroics by goalkeeper Simon Mignolet, it could have had more than the solitary goal that Dejan Lovren scored. Southampton incidentally was also the last team to have beaten Liverpool at home at the fag end of last season. If the Saints can up the current level of performance they can definitely climb higher than the 14th place they finished at in 2012-13.

Manager Pochettino seems just the right man to lead them there. “I have been in football too many years to get carried away,” he said. “We won't be getting ahead of ourselves. We have just had an important win but tomorrow we will be back in training at 10 a.m.”

Compiled by N. Sudarshan