Manchester United turned in one of their most disappointing performances of the season in a 0-0 draw away at Crystal Palace on Wednesday. Ole Gunnar Solskjær’s charges looked totally drained of vim and vigour on a misty night in South London, and deserved nothing more than the solitary point.
United looked rusty from the very outset, and thrice gifted the ball to Palace attackers in dangerous positions in the opening few minutes. Fortunately, the Eagles were just as sloppy in attack, and Dean Henderson remained largely untested.
As the half wore on, United seemed to grow into the game. A Nemanja Matić piledriver looped up off the legs of James McCarthy and towards the top corner, though Palace’s ever-dependable shot-stopper Vicente Guaita was on hand to palm the ball to safety. A few minutes later Luke Shaw found Marcus Rashford in a pocket of space on the edge of the box, though he fired wide of the near post after a smart first touch.
Palace seemed to be sinking ever deeper towards their own goal, and United had a couple of further chances to take the lead before the interval. Mason Greenwood found an opening, though his deflected shot went behind for a corner. On the stroke of halftime, Aaron Wan-Bissaka delivered a peach of a low cross in behind the Eagles’ defence, though Joel Ward expertly scrambled the ball to safety with Edinson Cavani lurking.
If United’s first half performance was poor, the second was even worse. For the first 20 minutes, they saw less of the ball than a Palace side that have averaged less than 40% possession throughout the Premier League season so far, mainly courtesy of loose passing and poor touches. Meanwhile, Henderson was called into action to deny Jordan Ayew from inside the area, and Christian Benteke should’ve done better when he mishit an Ayew cross against his standing leg.
Solskjær attempted to liven things up with the introductions of Scott McTominay and Daniel James, albeit without much success. Greenwood did well to work some space on the edge of the Palace box in the final 10 minutes, but his shot was always rising, and sailed over the top of Guaita’s crossbar.
The final whistle sounded with the game goalless and a comedically thick fog having descended over Selhurst Park; too late, alas, to prevent us from having to bear witness to one of the most dour matches of the season so far.