Premier League
Crystal PalaceCrystal Palace0Man UtdManchester United0

Crystal Palace 0-0 Manchester United: We need to find our spark again - Ole Gunnar Solskjaer

By Gary RoseBBC Sport
Crystal Palace goalkeeper Vicente Guaita makes a save against Manchester United
Manchester United rarely threatened at Selhurst Park

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer says his Manchester United side need to find their "spark" again after they were held at Crystal Palace - a third goalless draw in a row for the visitors.

The Red Devils never really looked like scoring in a drab encounter at Selhurst Park, with their failure to win a blow to their already slim Premier League title hopes.

The result means Manchester United are 14 points behind leaders Manchester City, with the two sides meeting on Sunday.

Asked about his side's recent form, Solskjaer told BBC Sport: "Of course it's a concern.

"When you have three clean sheets in a row, that will help you win games - but we haven't produced the quality.

"We just have to find a spark again, the quality again and try to win the games."

Former Manchester United defender Gary Neville accused the team of "sleepwalking" and putting in performances that will give their top-four rivals a boost.

"It wasn't a good night for United," the Sky Sports pundit said. "It doesn't matter who's in charge, you can't be boring and that was boring.

"They are sleepwalking in games. They are going to end up in a top-four race if they are not careful."

The visitors dominated possession but struggled to create many meaningful chances, with Nemanja Matic going closest in the first half when he forced Vicente Guaita into a decent save.

Palace did not manage a shot on target until early in the second half when Jordan Ayew fired straight at keeper Dean Henderson after a good one-two with Christian Benteke.

However, the hosts almost pinched it right at the end when Patrick van Aanholt was put in on goal, but he was denied by Henderson.

The point for Crystal Palace moved them on to 34 points and 11 points clear of the relegation zone as Roy Hodgson's side edge closer to securing another season of Premier League football.

Manchester United boss Solskjaer admits he's concerned by his side's lack of goals

A poor result before crucial period for Red Devils

This is the start of a potentially season-defining month for Manchester United. After facing their city rivals on Sunday, they have games against AC Milan in the Europa League, as well as an FA Cup quarter-final at Leicester.

It was, therefore, important they made a strong start to March. Solskjaer's side have only lost once in the Premier League since 1 November, but too many of their recent games have ended in draws.

This was a match they really needed to win to keep up the pressure on Manchester City, but they were far from their best as they displayed a severe lack of creativity.

Even Bruno Fernandes, so often their attacking spark having contributed to 25 goals this season, was below par as he struggled to make an impact on Wednesday's game.

Indeed, for large periods of this fixture the increasing thickness of the fog that had descended over Selhurst Park was the most exciting thing to develop, as Manchester United played out their third goalless draw in a row.

It could have been worse but for Henderson's late save. The goalkeeper was playing instead of David de Gea, who missed out for personal reasons.

When pressed for what those reasons were, Solskjaer said: "That's a private matter. It'll take the time it takes."

Palace grind out an important point

Patrick van Aanholt goes close late on
Van Aanholt almost won the game late on for Palace

It is well documented that Crystal Palace struggle to pose much of an attacking threat without Wilfried Zaha in their side, and they had managed just six attempts on goal over their past two matches before Wednesday.

However, despite their lack of bite, they are well organised and difficult to break down under Hodgson and rarely looked in danger of losing to United.

The Eagles successfully nullified any threat the visitors could pose and, while chances were also few and far between for themselves, they did come closest to taking all three points with Van Aanholt's late opportunity.

Despite the absence of Zaha, Palace have ground out five points from their past three games and that has them well on the way to a mid-table finish, avoiding any late concerns of being dragged into a relegation battle.

"I can't fault the players. There were a few times where we got the ball down in midfield and I thought we looked like we could score ourselves," said Hodgson.

"These guys have spent four years together doing their best to keep the team in the league. I'm so proud of them and so grateful to them for what they've done for the club."

Crystal Palace manager Roy Hodgson 'proud' of point against Manchester United.

Goalless again - the stats

  • This was Manchester United's sixth goalless Premier League draw of the season, their joint most in a campaign, along with 2004-05 and 2016-17.
  • Crystal Palace have now drawn back-to-back Premier League games 0-0 for the first time since December 2017.
  • United have drawn three consecutive matches 0-0 for the first time since October 2015 under Louis van Gaal, with the third game in that run a goalless draw at Selhurst Park against Crystal Palace.
  • Manchester United are the fifth English top-flight team to remain unbeaten in their first 14 away league matches of a season, after Leeds United in 1973-74, Liverpool in 1987-88 and Arsenal in both 2001-02 and 2003-04.
  • This was United attacking midfielder Fernandes' 21st away Premier League match - and he is yet to lose one. Only Manchester City forward Gabriel Jesus (26) and former Arsenal keeper Jens Lehmann (23) have had a longer unbeaten away starts in the competition.
  • Crystal Palace had more shots in Wednesday's match (eight) than they had managed in their previous two league games combined (six).

What next?

Crystal Palace travel to Tottenham Hotspur on Sunday (19:15 GMT), while Manchester United are at Manchester City earlier on the same day (16:30).

Player of the match

KouyatéCheikhou Kouyaté

with an average of 7.09

Crystal Palace

  1. Squad number8Player nameKouyaté
    Average rating

    7.09

  2. Squad number24Player nameCahill
    Average rating

    6.91

  3. Squad number2Player nameWard
    Average rating

    6.78

  4. Squad number31Player nameGuaita
    Average rating

    6.78

  5. Squad number10Player nameTownsend
    Average rating

    6.73

  6. Squad number3Player namevan Aanholt
    Average rating

    6.46

  7. Squad number9Player nameJ Ayew
    Average rating

    6.43

  8. Squad number25Player nameEze
    Average rating

    6.42

  9. Squad number4Player nameMilivojevic
    Average rating

    6.39

  10. Squad number22Player nameMcCarthy
    Average rating

    6.37

  11. Squad number44Player nameRiedewald
    Average rating

    6.08

  12. Squad number20Player nameBenteke
    Average rating

    6.04

  13. Squad number15Player nameSchlupp
    Average rating

    5.95

Manchester United

  1. Squad number26Player nameHenderson
    Average rating

    5.46

  2. Squad number23Player nameShaw
    Average rating

    5.26

  3. Squad number21Player nameJames
    Average rating

    4.38

  4. Squad number29Player nameWan-Bissaka
    Average rating

    4.08

  5. Squad number39Player nameMcTominay
    Average rating

    3.88

  6. Squad number3Player nameBailly
    Average rating

    3.83

  7. Squad number31Player nameMatic
    Average rating

    3.35

  8. Squad number11Player nameGreenwood
    Average rating

    3.33

  9. Squad number5Player nameMaguire
    Average rating

    3.25

  10. Squad number7Player nameCavani
    Average rating

    3.19

  11. Squad number17Player nameFred
    Average rating

    3.16

  12. Squad number18Player nameBruno Fernandes
    Average rating

    3.14

  13. Squad number10Player nameRashford
    Average rating

    2.54

Line-ups

Crystal Palace

Formation 4-4-2

  • 31Guaita
  • 2Ward
  • 8Kouyaté
  • 24Cahill
  • 3van Aanholt
  • 10Townsend
  • 22McCarthySubstituted forRiedewaldat 62'minutesBooked at 90mins
  • 4Milivojevic
  • 25EzeSubstituted forSchluppat 84'minutes
  • 9J Ayew
  • 20Benteke

Substitutes

  • 1Butland
  • 6Dann
  • 14Mateta
  • 15Schlupp
  • 21Wickham
  • 23Batshuayi
  • 34Kelly
  • 38Hannam
  • 44Riedewald

Man Utd

Formation 4-2-3-1

  • 26Henderson
  • 29Wan-Bissaka
  • 3Bailly
  • 5Maguire
  • 23Shaw
  • 17FredSubstituted forMcTominayat 74'minutes
  • 31Matic
  • 11Greenwood
  • 18Bruno Fernandes
  • 10Rashford
  • 7CavaniSubstituted forJamesat 76'minutes

Substitutes

  • 2Lindelöf
  • 13Grant
  • 19Diallo
  • 21James
  • 27Telles
  • 33Williams
  • 38Tuanzebe
  • 39McTominay
  • 74Shoretire
Referee:
Andre Marriner

Match Stats

Home TeamCrystal PalaceAway TeamMan Utd
Possession
Home37%
Away63%
Shots
Home8
Away11
Shots on Target
Home2
Away1
Corners
Home4
Away6
Fouls
Home4
Away13

Live Text

  1. Post update

    Match ends, Crystal Palace 0, Manchester United 0.

  2. Full Time

    Second Half ends, Crystal Palace 0, Manchester United 0.

  3. Booking

    Jairo Riedewald (Crystal Palace) is shown the yellow card for a bad foul.

  4. Post update

    Scott McTominay (Manchester United) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

  5. Post update

    Foul by Jairo Riedewald (Crystal Palace).

  6. Post update

    Offside, Manchester United. Luke Shaw tries a through ball, but Marcus Rashford is caught offside.

  7. Post update

    Attempt saved. Patrick van Aanholt (Crystal Palace) right footed shot from the centre of the box is saved in the centre of the goal. Assisted by Luka Milivojevic with a through ball.

  8. Post update

    Attempt missed. Luke Shaw (Manchester United) right footed shot from the centre of the box is high and wide to the right. Assisted by Bruno Fernandes with a headed pass.

  9. Post update

    Corner, Manchester United. Conceded by Joel Ward.

  10. Substitution

    Substitution, Crystal Palace. Jeffrey Schlupp replaces Eberechi Eze.

  11. Post update

    Foul by Luke Shaw (Manchester United).

  12. Post update

    Andros Townsend (Crystal Palace) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

  13. Post update

    Attempt missed. Mason Greenwood (Manchester United) left footed shot from outside the box is just a bit too high. Assisted by Bruno Fernandes.

  14. Post update

    Corner, Manchester United. Conceded by Patrick van Aanholt.

  15. Post update

    Attempt missed. Daniel James (Manchester United) header from the centre of the box misses to the right. Assisted by Luke Shaw with a cross.

  16. Post update

    Eric Bailly (Manchester United) wins a free kick in the attacking half.

  17. Post update

    Foul by Eberechi Eze (Crystal Palace).

  18. Substitution

    Substitution, Manchester United. Daniel James replaces Edinson Cavani.

  19. Substitution

    Substitution, Manchester United. Scott McTominay replaces Fred.

  20. Post update

    Offside, Manchester United. Harry Maguire tries a through ball, but Marcus Rashford is caught offside.

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