Manchester United were held to a third successive goalless stalemate, on a frustrating afternoon against Crystal Palace at Selhurst Park.
Louis van Gaal made seven changes from the side that was knocked out of the Capital One Cup by Middlesbrough in midweek, with David De Gea, Bastian Schweinsteiger, Anthony Martial and Wayne Rooney among those returning to the line-up. Meanwhile, 17-year-old defender Axel Tuanzebe was handed a place on the bench.
With the Reds looking to start quickly, the game’s first opportunity fell for the hosts in just the second minute, as Dwight Gayle’s drive forced De Gea into a low save. Alan Pardew’s side, roared on by the vociferous home support, continued to apply pressure in the opening stages but were denied by the Spanish keeper again shortly afterwards when Yannick Bolasie’s shot was superbly tipped onto the bar. De Gea was called into further action from the resulting corner, getting a hand to Scott Dann’s goalbound header.
After a slow start, United grew into the game and fashioned chances at the other end. Rooney’s inch-perfect, diagonal ball found Ander Herrera, though no-one was there to meet the midfielder’s volleyed cross. The Reds captain looked eager to make an impact on the game and, after seeing a 25-yard free-kick saved by Wayne Hennessey, came agonizingly close to reaching Martial’s defense-splitting pass on the half hour mark.
Palace remained a danger on the counter attack, and might have taken the lead through Gayle, but the striker couldn’t make proper contact with Yohan Cabaye’s clever flicked pass. It was United who almost took an advantage into the break though when Herrera stretched to reach Martial’s cut-back, but could only fire wide.