Premier League: Solskjaer fumes as Manchester United drop more points




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.

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.

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