Manchester United rounded off 2017 with a tepid goalless draw against Southampton at Old Trafford that saw them slip to third in the Premier League table.
In a game of relatively few clear-cut chances, the closest United came to breaking the deadlock was in the last ten minutes, with an offside Paul Pogba diverting home Nemanja Matic’s scuffed effort. Replays then went on to show that the ball could have possibly trickled into the back of the net without the Frenchman’s intervention, which probably summed up the Reds’ night.
José Mourinho made three changes to the side that salvaged a draw against Burnley, with Victor Lindelöf, Jesse Lingard and Henrikh Mkhitaryan coming into the starting eleven and the Reds went close early, with Romelu Lukaku heading over after some wonderful build-up.
However, Lukaku was stretched off shortly afterwards following a clash of heads with Southampton defender Wesley Hoedt, denting United’s attacking threat. Despite the front quartet of Juan Mata, Lingard, Mkhitaryan and substitute Marcus Rashford combining well, the Reds didn’t really fashion anything dangerous throughout, with Lingard coming closest, flashing a header wide.
Southampton, meanwhile, came close on a couple of occasions, with David de Gea forced to make fine saves to deny James Ward-Prowse and Shane Long, but they too were blunt in front of goal and as a result, a relatively boring encounter was played out.
Here are the United player ratings from Old Trafford:
David de Gea - 7
Two good saves, first with an outstretched hand to deny Ward-Prowse, then an outstretched leg to deny Long in the second half.
Ashley Young - 6
Offered an attacking threat when going forward but never really found the mark with a threatening cross.
Victor Lindelof - 6
Unsettled on a couple of occasions by Shane Long’s direct running but kept his cool and held firm.
Phil Jones - 6
Defended solidly when called upon and has certainly sealed his place in this United eleven when fit.
Luke Shaw - 6
As with Young on the other flank, offered real threat when going forward on the overlap, but never managed to find the precise cross needed to create danger in the final third.
Nemanja Matic - 5
Another sluggish performance. Started well but faded in the second half and should have been taken off and afforded a rest.
Paul Pogba - 5
Couple of fantastic cross-field balls but had nowhere near the amount of influence you’d expect a player of quality to have on a game like this.
Juan Mata - 6
Kept possession well and put in a cross early on in the first half that Lukaku should have headed home.
Jesse Lingard - 6
Continues to sparkle. Should have earned United a penalty with a handball shout and extended his goalscoring run, but nodded his header wide.
Henrikh Mkhitaryan - 5
Got himself into some fantastic positions on the left wing but often overhit the final ball, squandering all the good work he had previously done.
Romelu Lukaku - 6
Missed an early chance which he should have put away, before being stretchered off with concussion worries in the 14th minute.
Marcus Rashford (6) – Offered good movement playing up top, but squandered a big chance by twisting and turning instead of hitting the shot straight away.
Anthony Martial (6) – Tried his best to run at the Southampton defence but didn’t really make much of an impact.