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Manchester United’s dream of a 21st Premier League title is starting to drift away.
The hopes of a first EPL title since 2012-13 suffered another blow Wednesday as the Reds drew 0-0 with Crystal Palace.
With a game in hand on their rivals, the Reds missed a chance to narrow the deficit between themselves and leaders Manchester City.
Ole Gunnar Solskajer’s side is now 14 points back of the Sky Blues heading into this weekend’s derby.
With United keen to close the gap on City it was Crystal Palace, who started quicker.
While the Reds were chasing the game for the first ten minutes, the Eagles failed to create any quality chances.
The first chance fell to United’s Nemanja Matic in the 12th minute.
The Serbian’s shot from a distance seemed labelled for the top corner, but Vicente Guaita got his fingertips to it and deflected it out for a corner.
On the ensuing corner, the ball took a deflection off Marcus Rashford towards Edinson Cavani from inside the six-yard box, but the Uruguayan couldn’t find the handle.
Near the end of the half, a Matic cross was cut out by the Palace defence, and then Gary Cahill cut out Aaron Wan Bissaka’s follow-up before it could get to Cavnai all alone.
The second half was pretty quiet without a lot of clear-cut opportunities for either side.
Eagles captain Luke Milivojevic had a free-kick chance just before the hour mark.
However, the United wall did its job, and the rebound was smashed just wide from Andros Townsend.
Man United’s best scoring chance came 13 minutes from the end when a quickly taken free-kick saw Daniel James get a free header in the box off Luke Shaw’s cross.
The Welshman’s effort hit Patrick van Aanholt and went out for a corner.
Reds goalkeeper Dean Henderson came up with a colossal save right at the end to preserve a point for his side.
Van Aanholt snuck in behind Wan-Bissaka on the left and just beat the offside trap, but Henderson read the play well and blocked the Dutchman’s effort.
Man of the Match
For the most part, in what was a relatively dull game, Dean Henderson helped his side avoid embarrassment right at the end.
A draw does little to help the Reds chances of catching Man City, but if not for Henderson’s heroics late in the match, they might have come away with nothing.
The Englishman only had to make two saves, but his last one on Van Aanholt was by far the best chance for either side in this match.
He’s rarely had much to do when he plays, but Henderson always seems to make a save at a critical juncture for his team.
You can say what you want about the quality of Henderson’s opponents, but his numbers in limited action are impressive.
Today’s shutout is his eighth for the Red Devils in 14 matches in all competitions.
Scoring goals continues to hamper both Man United and Crystal Palace.
Roy Hodgson’s side is now goalless in back-to-back Premier League games.
The Eagles haven’t scored in four of its last five Premier League fixtures.
For United, though, their goalscoring lately has let them down during a critical stretch of games.
Tonight is United’s sixth goalless draw of the season, tying a club record.
The Reds haven’t scored in their last three games in all competitions.
The Streak goes on
Unlike their rivals at Man City, very few at United are celebrating their current unbeaten run.
Another draw puts the Reds unbeaten run away from home at 21 games, just seven behind Arsenal’s all-time record.
United is just the fifth top-flight side to remain unbeaten in their first 14 top-flight matches on the road in a season.
The last side to do it was Arsenal in 2003-04.
Bruno Fernandes continues to have good fortune away from home.
United’s star midfielder has yet to taste defeat in 21 away Premier League fixtures since joining the Reds.
Meanwhile, the Reds remain unbeaten at Selhurst Park, having never lost now in 12 visits.
What does it mean?
All this draw really does for the Reds is pad the lead for Man City atop the Premier League table.
The Sky Blues now lead the Reds by 14 points heading into the Manchester derby this weekend.
For Palace, another point should help them stay in the Premier League beyond this season.
It doesn’t help them much in the short term as they sit 13th, but it could prove vital down the road.
Five of the last six games for Hodgson’s side are against teams in the top half of the table.
Following the match, United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer said it was a disappointing game to watch.
“In the first half, we were too slow to start with. They had a bright start. We played well for a little spell but couldn’t score the goal. In the second half, we never got going. We made some changes, and we had one or two decent opportunities, but not enough, of course.”
United head back home destined for the Etihad for a critical matchup with Man City.
The kickoff for the Manchester derby on Sunday is at 4:30 pm. (JSL)