Manchester United were left ruing missed chances on Saturday as they played out a frustrating 0-0 draw with Newcastle. Wayne Rooney, Javier Hernandez and Chris Smalling missed the pick of the chances, but ultimately couldn't find a way past a stubborn Newcastle defence.
After a solid attacking display in midweek, Manchester United were expected to add a bit more flair to their league performances. This poor result will raise more question marks about United's attacking form.
Bastian Schweinsteiger made his first Premier League start for United, replacing Michael Carrick in midfield, while Adnan Januzaj was given a starting berth as the furthest-forward midfielder. Wayne Rooney continued up top despite his poor return in recent weeks.
Newcastle new boys Wijnaldum, Mitrovic and Mbemba all handed starts, while exciting youngster Florian Thauvin started from the bench. Daryl Janmaat was suspended, so Steven Taylor was drafted in to complete the defence.
The opening 20 minutes saw Louis van Gaal's team dominate possession and create chances at will. Luke Shaw and Memphis Depay combining to excellent effect against makeshift right back Chancel Mbemba. But for all their possession and attacking invention, they couldn't find the final pass.
Those with ‘less than a minute' in the Alexander Mitrovic Booking Sweepstakes were almost in the money when he stepped across Darmian with only 30 seconds on the clock. The Serbian set his stall out early.
Newcastle's first real chance came through Aleksandar Mitrovic as his 24th minute header stuck the crossbar. Ayoze Perez also went close as well with a low shot given to him on the edge of the box. The shot travelled just wide of the post.
Half time came with neither side able to find the breakthrough, although Manchester United could've easily been two or three ahead from their early chances.
United's second half started just as the first had ended, with Newcastle content to defend deep and wait for their opportunity to break. A couple of well-defended corners at either end were the only notable chances.
The only real guile and flair on show was from Memphis, who continued to find the freedom to cut inside Mbemba and hit shots towards the Newcastle goal.
Adnan Januzaj was replaced by actual real striker Javier Hernandez, who had given United some striking impetus against Club Brugge in midweek. Exciting new signing Florian Thauvin replaced Gabriel Obertan with 20 minutes to go, making his debut for Newcastle.
The introduction of Hernandez gave Wayne Rooney the freedom to drift without disrupting the United shape, which yielded one of the half's real clear-cut opportunities. Rooney played the ball from the left of the box across to Mata, whose right-footed volley flew over the bar.
A flurry of United chances came soon after, with Memphis mis-timing a headed and Mata hitting the rebound at Krul. Shaw then broke through the lines and hit a tame shot at the ‘keeper.
Cries of ‘Attack Attack Attack' summed up the afternoon for United, whose build-up play was too slow for the home fans' liking.
Either team could've walked away with the points in stoppage time after Chris Smalling's header hit the post and Newcastle broke away to miss a glorious chance. United pressed and pressed, but Newcastle stood strong to resist them as the final whistle went.
There were smatterings of boos from the home crowd, who'd seen their team miss a whole host of chances, hit the woodwork and play a predictable game in front of a determined defence. Steve McClaren will be happy with a hard-won point, while Louis van Gaal will be surely frustrated at his team's inability to turn possession into goals.