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Thursday, 16 September 2021

Man United lose ground in title race after Arsenal draw

AP , Saturday 30 Jan 2021
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Manchester United lost vital ground in the title race after drawing 0-0 against Arsenal in the Premier League on Saturday.

United had a string of clear chances throughout the match, but the visitors couldn't convert and grab the three points. Instead, the Red Devils dropped two and remained in second place with 41 points, three behind rival Manchester City at the top.

And to make matters worse, City on Saturday was able to do what United couldn't on Wednesday _ beat bottom side Sheffield United.

Arsenal extended its unbeaten run to seven matches and moved up to eighth with 31 points.

``Both teams were trying to win. Both sides had opportunities,'' Arsenal defender David Luiz said. ``It was a great match. But frustrating, frustrating (not to win).''

United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer made five changes after the Sheffield United defeat and his team had the bulk of chances in the first half, with Fred's shot from the edge of the area drawing a fingertip save from Arsenal goalkeeper Bernd Leno in the 20th.

``I feel we had the bigger chances to win the match,'' Solskjaer said. ``I feel we had a good performance.''

When central midfielder Scott McTominay came off injured in the first half, the United manager made a positive substitution, bringing on forward Anthony Martial to try to bring the game to Arsenal.

``I felt we had the upper hand,'' Solskjaer said. ``And we wanted to get on the ball more.''

Midfielder Bruno Fernandes came close a few times, including a free kick just outside the area before halftime. The ball looked like it would just clear the wall and was headed toward goal, but Luiz headed the ball backward and over the crossbar.

The visitors had other chances, but poor finishing and good defending by Arsenal stymied United, including a vital clearance by Gabriel Martinelli in the 29th to head the ball out before it reached Marcus Rashford in the area.

Arsenal also had chances, with Alexandre Lacazette unleashing a 25-yard swerving shot in the 17th, but it was right at goalkeeper David de Gea in the end.

Willian came on for Martinelli at the start of the second half, and had a clear chance to score in the 49th when a cross from Hector Bellerin found him at the far post. But he hesitated before shooting and Aaron Wan-Bissaka was able to block his shot. Moments later, Willian cut the ball back for Nicolas Pepe, who looked certain to score. But Wan-Bissaka again made a crucial block.

Edinson Cavani had chances to produce a winner and nearly scored in the 59th, but Arsenal left back Cedric Soares did enough to divert the ball away for a corner.

Lacazette hit the crossbar in the 65th from a free kick after the forward was brought down just outside the area by United captain Harry Maguire. A minute later, Emile Smith Rowe forced a low save from de Gea at the near post with a powerful shot.

Arsenal was missing three key players, including captain Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, who is dealing with personal family issues, winger Bukayo Saka (sore hip) and left back Kieran Tierney (right calf).

(For more sports news and updates, follow Ahram Online Sports on Twitter at @AO_Sports and on Facebook at AhramOnlineSports.)

 
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