With West Ham having already guaranteed safety and United needing only a point to secure second place, the game was as near to a dead rubber as makes no difference. In the game’s first quarter, you could tell. Neither side started with any urgency, instead languidly tapping the ball around midfield on a balmy east London evening.
It took until midway through the opening period before any action, though West Ham goalkeeper Adrián was soon called into action thrice in quick succession. He first dived to palm a swerving Jesse Lingard shot to safety, before blocking Alexis Sánchez’s central effort and diverting Luke Shaw’s driven rebound onto the post.
West Ham looked to sit back and strike on the counter-attack, though star man Marko Arnautović cut a rather isolated figure up top. That said, United’s sharp end was scarcely any less blunt, and Lingard’s long range snapshots were all that threatened. Halftime came around with the game still goalless. Couldn’t they have ended it there?
Unfortunately they didn’t, and the second half picked up precisely where the first had left off. There was always the general sense that United had the upper hand, but lacked sufficient interest to seriously bother trying to score a goal. Paul Pogba went closest when he got up to glance an Antonio Valencia cross goalwards, but his effort flashed narrowly wide.
David Moyes showed attacking intent by throwing Andy Carroll into the mix (or perhaps mixer?) with just over 20 minutes left. José Mourinho responded by throwing Marcus Rashford on for Lingard a short while later. Neither substitution did much, and finally the referee put us out of our misery with the two teams deadlocked. Godspeed to the folks who have to put together the highlights package.