Manchester United limped to a disappointing 0-0 home draw against West Ham in the Premier League on Saturday.
In a familiar performance from Louis van Gaal’s side, the hosts enjoyed most of the possession without creating many clear goalscoring chances, as Marouane Fellaini provided their main threat.
Indeed, it was the visitors who came closest to finding a breakthrough when Winston Reid thumped a first-half header against the post, while Mauro Zarate ought to have scored when a chance presented itself inside the six-yard box.
United’s fourth draw in their last seven league games sees them drop to fourth in the table, while West Ham – who end a run of seven successive defeats at Old Trafford – move up to sixth.
One of three United changes, Fellaini was central to United’s early play, shooting just wide before heading narrowly off target after a deep cross from Paddy McNair.
But it was West Ham who should have taken an early lead. A careless pass from Daley Blind allowed returning captain Mark Noble to send Victor Moses through on goal, but the winger’s poor finish was saved by the legs of David de Gea.
United responded when Anthony Martial was denied by a close-range Reid block after Fellaini’s knockdown from Jesse Lingard’s delivery had provided the opportunity.
An astonishing period followed as West Ham hit the woodwork twice in quick succession. First, a rare mistake from De Gea saw him fumble Aaron Cresswell’s cross, with Chris Smalling’s attempt to clear rebounding off Zarate before hitting the post.
Then, a corner from Zarate was powerfully headed down by Reid but United were relieved to see it bounce off the foot of the post.
West Ham looked more likely to score despite the hosts having more of the possession, but they suffered a blow when an injured Moses had to be replaced by Michail Antonio.
Fellaini had a penalty claim turned down, going down under pressure from Reid in a crowded goalmouth, before United were forced to reshuffle their pack as Michael Carrick replaced Morgan Schneiderlin.
De Gea had to get down sharply to deny Zarate early in the second half, before the Argentine missed a golden chance.
Andy Carroll perfectly flicked Antonio’s cross into his path inside the box, but he somehow lashed his finish well wide.
The visitors were almost punished as United finally had their only shot on target in the game on the hour. Lingard fed Martial, whose cutback found Fellaini, but the Belgium international’s close-range left-footed effort was impressively saved by Adrian.
United were starting to up the tempo as Juan Mata shot wide after a one-two with Martial and Bastian Schweinsteiger flashed a shot over.
Van Gaal brought on Memphis Depay in his final attempt to influence the outcome and good wing play from the Dutchman set up Martial to shoot just wide, before Lingard also lashed a decent chance off target in the closing stages as West Ham held on.
Key Opta stats:
– Manchester United had just one shot on target from their 21 in the match (10 off target, 10 blocked).
– The Red Devils have drawn 0-0 for the eighth time in 2015, their most in a calendar year since 2005 (10).
– United have kept nine clean sheets this season, the most in the Premier League. They racked up 11 in the whole of last season.
– The Hammers kept their first clean sheet since September (v Newcastle) in the Premier League, ending a nine game run without one.
– The Red Devils have lost just two Premier League home games in 2015, a joint-league-low figure along with Arsenal and Tottenham.
– West Ham have taken 14 points from away games this campaign, have secured just 16 last season under Sam Allardyce.
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