Barclays Premier League
Manchester United vs. West Ham United
Venue: Old Trafford
Date: Saturday, 5 December 2015
Kick-off: 15:00 GMT
Manchester United contested a sixth goalless draw of the season, this time coming against West Ham United in the Barclays Premier League.
Five of those stalemates have fallen at Old Trafford, where United have conceded just three times all season, but can’t seem to score enough goals.
The visitors struck the post twice whist United dominated possession yet again, but couldn’t find the breakthrough.
As United attacked early on, James Tomkins tackle fell to Paddy McNair, who fired over from range.
Marouane Fellaini’s surging run from his own half led to him dragging a shot wide, before the Belgian headed over at the back post from a McNair cross.
David De Gea was called upon, saving a Victor Moses effort with his left leg, and Mauro Zarate headed the resulting corner wide.
Good play from Jesse Lingard saw his cross headed down by Fellaini, with Anthony Martial’s shot on the turn expertly blocked by Winston Reid.
Aaron Cresswell’s cross was fumbled by De Gea, with Chris Smalling’s clearance coming back off Zarate and hitting the post.
The Hammers hit the post again, with Reid heading Zarate’s corner against the post, as a potential penalty appeal for United at the other end was waved away.
Juan Mata needlessly fouled Cresswell in a dangerous position, but De Gea caught Zarate’s free-kick with ease, as half-time arrived with the game goalless.
After the break, Lingard drove a shot over whilst Zarate somehow missed the target with his effort from close range, shooting wide.
Good combination play between Martial and Lingard led to Fellaini’s golden opportunity, but his attempt went straight at Adrian, who saved well.
Alex Song escaped a booking for bringing down Martial, and whilst Mata’s free-kick was cleared, substitute and debutant Guillermo Varela volleyed over from 25 yards.
Another neat passing move, with much more tempo than usual, eventually saw Mata slice wide on his weaker foot.
Yet more mazy dribbling from Martial was halted, but the ball dropped to Bastian Schweinsteiger who couldn’t prevent his effort from going over the bar.
Matteo Darmian, playing at left-back, produced a fine low cross that was cleared behind, but the resulting corner led to nothing.
Darmian was again involved, this time with Memphis, but Martial, as he opened up his body, side footed wide from the cross.
Lingard also fired wide when he should have hit the target, as Michael Carrick, on for the injured Morgan Schneiderlin towards the end of the first half, was booked for fouling Mark Noble, as the West Ham skipper broke away after a United corner was cleared.
Full-time arrived to an unhappy Old Trafford faithful, but who have every right to be, as games like this should be put away early on.
Slaven Bilic’s side have won away at Arsenal, Liverpool and Manchester City so far this season, whilst overcoming Chelsea at home, scoring 10 games and conceding just twice in that time, but they were deprived of many injuries, albeit with United in the same boat, but this was a must-win.
City’s lunchtime defeat seems irrelevant, with Louis van Gaal’s dropping two points, ahead of a make-or-break fixture away at Wolfsburg on Tuesday night.
United can keep their destiny in their own hands by winning, but anything other than a win is likely to see them eliminated from the Champions League.
It doesn’t get any easier domestically, with Bournemouth away to follow next Saturday teatime on the back of the trip to Germany in midweek, where United will have to improve or face the embarrassing early exit and Thursday night Europa League football come February.
Manchester United: De Gea; McNair (Varela 46), Smalling, Blind, Darmian; Schneiderlin (Carrick 44), Schweinsteiger (Memphis 73); Mata, Fellaini, Lingard; Martial.
Subs: Romero, Varela, Borthwick-Jackson, Carrick, Pereira, Young, Memphis.
Manager: Louis van Gaal
West Ham: Adrian; Tomkins, Reid, Ogbonna, Cresswell; Song (Obiang 78); Zarate (Jenkinson 87), Noble, Kouyate, Moses (Antonio 37); Carroll.
Subs: Randolph, Jenkinson, Obiang, Collins, Jelavic, Antonio, Oxford.
Manager: Slaven Bilic