​Manchester City's Derby Triumph Proves They Are the Team to Beat in the Premier League

Without Sergio Aguero, City went into Old Trafford and walked away with all three points thanks to an overpowering first half.

On the strength of a stunning first half, Manchester City gained an early leg up in the title Premier League race with a 2-1 triumph over Manchester United at Old Trafford.

The Citizens showed flashes of top-notch quality in their first three league matches under Pep Guardiola, but they took it to another level in the first half of this one. City was so dominant, it was easy to forget they were without Sergio Aguero, their suspended star striker.

Kevin De Bruyne bossed the midfield for Guardiola’s side, and he put the visitors in front with a cool finish 14 minutes into the match.

City kept on the front foot and eventually added a second goal when Kelechi Iheanacho, who started in Aguero’s place, tapped home a rebound.

A Claudio Bravo goalkeeping blunder cut United’s deficit to 2-1 at the break, but make no mistake -- City completely overwhelmed the Red Devils in the opening half. It was a Guardiola masterclass as the Citizens pressed high, won the ball back quickly, passed beautifully and held 65% possession. It looked more like Barcelona versus Las Palmas than a match between two of England’s top teams.

Heck, United couldn’t even get the ball off Guardiola.

Following intermission, Jose Mourinho’s United side made some tactical changes -- namely pressing higher up the pitch -- and inserted attacking winger Marcus Rashford. The youngster proved vital in what was a much more evenly-played second stanza.

But, despite some (possibly justified) shouts for a penalty on a questionable Bravo tackle in the box, City held off United’s second-half surge. In fact, the Citizens nearly netted a third as that man De Bruyne banged one off the post.

While United was closer to equal footing in the second half, the final stats paint a lopsided picture. Not only did City outshoot the Red Devils 18 to 14, but they made 612 passes to United’s 408, finishing the match with 61% of the possession.

Nicolas Otamendi and Fernandinho turned in solid performances for City -- posting ratings of 8.5 and 8.0, respectively, per -- but one man stood above the rest.

The victory keeps City at the top of the table, and their perfect season rolls on with 12 points through four matches. Fellow quickstart Chelsea can pull even with a victory at Swansea City on Sunday, but with a road win in the Manchester Derby -- marked by such an impressive run of play in the first 45 minutes, shorthanded no less -- it’s hard not to be impressed by what Guardiola is doing with Manchester City.

They’re still looking for their first full 90-minute exhibition of Guardiola-esque soccer, but City is trending in the right direction. The legendary skipper is quickly making his footprint in the Premier League, and his side looks like the EPL frontrunner.