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Crystal Palace 0-0 Manchester United: 5 talking points as Red Devils are held to their second successive goalless draw | Premier League 2020-21

Vaibhav Joshi
ANALYST
Modified 04 Mar 2021
Feature

#3 Crystal Palace are struggling for goals without Wilfried Zaha

Wilfried Zaha has been a big miss for Palace in recent games
Wilfried Zaha has been a big miss for Palace in recent games

For all their defensive solidity, it’s at the other end of the pitch that Crystal Palace have been lacking, thanks in no small measure to the absence of their talismanic attacker Wilfried Zaha.

The Ivory Coast international, who is the top scorer for Crystal Palace this season, sat out his fifth straight match due to injury, with his side failing to score in four of those five games. In fact, Crystal Palace’s reliance on Zaha extends over the past couple of seasons, with the Eagles losing 18 of the last 22 matches that he has missed.

Even though Roy Hodgson’s men are just a couple of wins away from securing Premier League status for yet another season, they will be hoping to add goals from other sources if they are to extend their top-flight stay much further.

#4 The Manchester United attack seems to be lacking creativity

Another frustrating outing in front of goal for Bruno Fernandes and Co.
Another frustrating outing in front of goal for Bruno Fernandes and Co.

The return of Edinson Cavani to the Manchester United starting lineup for this tie against Crystal Palace allowed Ole Gunnar Solskjaer to select what seems to be his preferred frontline attackers.

However, a dogged and determined Crystal Palace outfit successfully nullified Manchester United’s formidable attacking threat throughout the game. The visitors seemed bereft of ideas in front of goal and ended up playing out their sixth goalless draw of the season already.

The likes of Marcus Rashford, Mason Greenwood and Bruno Fernandes were securely shackled by the attentive Crystal Palace defenders, which left Cavani starved of service in the Palace penalty area.

In fact, the visitors’ most potent attacking threat was supplied by their full-backs, with Luke Shaw and Aaron Wan-Bissaka frequently popping up in dangerous positions with a series of probing crosses.

With Anthony Martial out due to injury and the bench not offering much in terms of first-team experience, the Red Devils seem to be desperately missing the creativity of Paul Pogba, who has been another fairly long-term absentee.

#5 Is the season’s title race already run?

The title could already be out of United
The title could already be out of United's reach after this latest disappointing result

With Manchester City having opened up a commanding 15-point lead at the top of the table ahead of this game, second-placed Manchester United went into this clash against Crystal Palace nursing the faintest glimmer of a title challenge.

Manchester United had the opportunity to make a substantial dent in Manchester City’s lead with three points from Selhurst Park.

However, even with Leicester City dropping points and Liverpool and Chelsea due to clash tomorrow, Manchester United were unable to pull away from the chasing pack as their visit to Selhurst Park ended in a dour goalless draw.

Ultimately, it seems that Pep Guardiola’s table-topping side emerged as the biggest winners from this round of mid-week fixtures as they creep ever closer to reclaiming their Premier League title this season.

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Published 04 Mar 2021
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