Manchester United turned in one of their worst performances of the season so far in a goalless draw away at Crystal Palace on Saturday. Louis van Gaal's side struggled to get to grips with the hosts and were second-best for the majority of the match. By the final whistle, they were rather thankful for a fortuitous point.
Palace certainly made the brighter start to the match, with the Eagles' early pressing forcing United -- and the dodgy Matteo Darmian in particular -- into a series of cheap giveaways in dangerous positions. Dwight Gayle drew a save from David de Gea with just a couple of minutes on the clock, before the Spaniard made an even better stop to tip a fierce Yannick Bolasie strike onto the crossbar.
As the clock ticked on Palace's pressing wore off, and they dropped ever deeper without possession. Still, United struggled to find a way through their hosts' disciplined defensive ranks; on the rare occasions they did, Wayne Rooney was characteristically hopeless. A great through-ball by Anthony Martial sent him through just past the half-hour, though Rooney appeared to be running through treacle and Wayne Hennessey swept the ball from under his feet.
United's only other good first half opportunity was the result of some fine play by Martial, though after he picked out an excellent low cross for Ander Herrera, the midfielder slipped and completely whiffed a fairly simple shot from the edge of the penalty area. Rather inevitably, the opening period ended goalless.
If anything, things went from bad to worse in a very scrappy start to the second half. United struggled to bring the ball under control, and the lion's share of the chances went the way of the hosts. Palace had a golden opportunity to break the deadlock inside the final 20 minutes, though Yohan Cabaye volleyed a Joel Ward cross wide when left completely free in the penalty area.
You could tell United were getting desperate when Ashley Young and Marouane Fellaini in quick succession, though van Gaal's substitutions couldn't change the tide of the match. Palace continued in the ascendancy, and only a brilliant tackle by Young prevented Bolasie from charging clean through on goal. The rebound bounced over to Gayle, though his low drive was kept out by the catlike reflexes of de Gea in the last real opportunity of the match.