Crystal Palace do not do draws normally and the disappointment of this one – a first since February, 24 games ago – was that it should have been a victory. They were far more threatening and inventive than a Manchester United side who have not scored for almost five and a half hours and were urged by their supporters to “attack, attack, attack”.
A Wayne Rooney free-kick comfortably held was the only shot that reached goalkeeper Wayne Hennessey or arrived anywhere in his vicinity. Palace, in contrast, hit the bar in their period of early dominance and did at least work David De Gea.
Alan Pardew’s side do lack a cutting edge, illustrated by the fact that not one of their strikers has scored in the league this season. Set pieces tend to provide what goals there are and with Connor Wickham and Marouane Chamakh injured (neither of whom are prolific either), it has come to look a bad decision to sell Glenn Murray to Bournemouth in August.
They have plenty of pace and creativity, exemplified yesterday by Wilfried Zaha, a man with something to prove after his unhappy spell at Old Trafford.
He reduced Matteo Darmian to a wreck; the Italian was eventually booked and lasted 65 minutes before being substituted when Louis van Gaal decided even Ashley Young at right-back was a safer bet.
Van Gaal found consolation in a third successive clean sheet but admitted: “When you are not creating many chances, I cannot complain. We have to improve that.”
Pardew was understandably delighted with his side’s performance. “A great day for the club because United have come here and are fortunate to go away with a point,” he said.
The home side forced a rush of early corners and chances. Dwight Gayle shot at the goalkeeper after Darmian failed to clear and Scott Dann headed a corner down for Yannick Bolasie, whose fierce drive was deflected onto the bar, and from the next one De Gea pushed Dann’s header over.
Not until midway through the half did United offer anything, when Rooney’s free-kick dipped over the wall without being near enough to the post to defeat Hennessey. For a while they improved, but when Anthony Martial fed Ander Herrera on the penalty spot, the Spaniard miskicked horribly.
Yohan Cabaye missed the best opportunity by scooping a volley wide.
In a late Palace flurry. Young diverted the ball to Gayle, whose shot hit De Gea’s feet and proceedings ended much as they had begun with the home side charging in on a corner that came to nothing.
Crystal Palace: (4–2-3-1) Hennessey; Kelly, Dann, Delaney, Ward; McArthur, Cabaye (Jedinak, 79); Zaha, Puncheon, Bolasie; Gayle.
Manchester Utd: (4-2-3-1) De Gea; Darmian (Young, 65), Blind, Smalling, Rojo; Schneiderlin, Schweinsteiger (Fellaini, 68); Mata (Lingard, 78), Herrera, Martial; Rooney.
Referee: Mike Jones.
Man of the match: Dann (Crystal Palace).
Match rating: 6/10.
Join our new commenting forum
Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies