Manchester United missed the opportunity to close the gap on Manchester City in the Premier League title race when they drew with Arsenal yesterday.
The Gunners came close when Alexandre Lacazette struck the crossbar with a powerful free-kick in the second half, but neither side pushed for a winner.
Both teams managed three shots on target and both left with a point which felt a better one for Mikel Arteta than it did for Ole Gunnar Solskjaer .
With City winning 1-0 against Sheffield United, the result leaves Solskjaer’s side three points behind their rivals, who also have a game in hand.
Here’s how the national media reacted to Saturday’s evening’s result.
‘One that got away’ – The Guardian
It was far removed from the stereotypical stalemate and, at the end of it all, Manchester United had a new club record for away league games without defeat but not the victory they wanted to stay within touching distance of the leaders, Manchester City.
The sequence now stands at 18 matches, one better than the treble-winning class of 1999, and 14 of them have been wins. This felt like the one that got away.
Ole Gunnar Solskjær had wanted a reaction to Wednesday’s shambolic home loss against Sheffield United and he got it in the shape of a much improved performance. But United could not locate the cutting edge.
The frustrating thing for United is that in six league matches this season against the so-called “big six”, they now have four 0-0 draws to go with two defeats, one of which was the 0-1 against Arsenal at Old Trafford on 1 November. They have only scored one goal in the process, which was a Bruno Fernandes penalty in the 6-1 home loss to Tottenham.
‘Air of frustration’ – BBC Sport
Manchester United established a club record at the Emirates by making it 18 Premier League games away from home without defeat – but there was still an air of frustration in manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s body language towards the final whistle.
He will have had his sights on taking three points in order to bounce back from that shock midweek loss at home to bottom club Sheffield United and showed his positive intent by sending on striker Anthony Martial when midfielder Scott McTominay had to go off in the first half.
In the end, however, Solskjaer’s side ended up as one half of the first goalless draw between these two sides in the Premier League since February 2014 – which means Arsenal are now unbeaten in their last six league games against United.
United had plenty of possession but not the final flourish, with Portugal playmaker Bruno Fernandes having one of his quieter games and Cavani’s radar wayward.
Solskjaer did not look unduly unhappy as he conducted his post-match interviews but they have lost ground on Manchester City and may feel this was one that got away.
‘Still in development phase’ – The Mirror
There has been a sense of people waiting for United to fall away in this title race. For so long they’ve defied slow starts and poor first-halfs to come back and win games.
But the Carabao Cup loss to Manchester City, failure to win at Anfield and of course the reverse against Sheffield United have only fuelled the idea that United are still very much in their development phase.
They had a chance to bounce back following their midweek loss to the Blades but failed to take it.
No matter Arsenal’s recent form, this was a game that a title hopeful would be expected to win.
Seeing their neighbours win earlier in the day laid down the marker and demanded a Red Devils response.
As was the case in midweek though, they could not match the three points registered by their rivals.
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Manchester United lost 2-1 to Sheffield United as they passed up an opportunity to return to the top of the Premier League table.
There’s no time for Ole Gunnar Solskjaer and his players to feel sorry for themselves, though, with a game against Arsenal at the Emirates to come on Saturday.
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‘An anaemic match’ – The Daily Mail
Once, earlier this season, they wandered the no-man’s land of the Premier League’s squeezed middle like a pair of condemned men. Even though reprieves have been granted to Ole Gunnar Solskjaer and Mikel Arteta and they have embraced new ambitions, their teams played out this goalless draw as if neither could quite bear to plunge the other back into despair.
And so Solskjaer’s Manchester United wasted the chance to keep the pressure on Manchester City at the top of the table and fell further behind their rampaging neighbours so that there is now a three-point gap between them.
And Arsenal saw their opportunity to draw level with Spurs and advance on the Champions League places fall away. It was an anaemic match and so in some ways, for both sides, it must have felt like old times.