West Ham United 0-0 Manchester United

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    Manchester United drew their first game of 2018 with Adrian in superb form for West Ham

    Manchester United sealed runners-up spot in the Premier League, despite being denied victory by the inspired form of West Ham goalkeeper Adrian.

    The result leaves Jose Mourinho’s side four points clear of third-placed Tottenham with one game left.

    United were wasteful at times, but Adrian did make three superb saves in the West Ham goal.

    David Moyes’ side remain 15th in the table after securing their survival against Leicester last week.

    Despite West Ham’s attempts to generate an atmosphere at the London Stadium for this fixture – by adding huge concourse motifs of their former captains and record-breakers – there were a large number of empty seats.

    And the game was reflective of an end-of-season affair, petering out in the later stages to a draw – United’s first in the league of 2018.

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    Audition for Wembley?

    While unwanted results in this fixture (a defeat and a draw) contributed to United missing out on top-flight titles in 1992 and 1995, there was no such importance placed upon this encounter.

    With Manchester City confirmed as champions on 15 April, United required a point to seal a second-place finish and manager Jose Mourinho instead appeared to use the fixture as an audition for a place in his FA Cup final line-up against Chelsea on 19 May.

    Deploying a three-man defence, the Portuguese boss made eight changes to his starting XI from the one that lost at Brighton, reintroducing the likes of Phil Jones, Alexis Sanchez and Luke Shaw.

    Captain Antonio Valencia created United’s best opportunity of the first period, which Hammers goalkeeper Adrian expertly parried from Alexis Sanchez before brilliantly deflecting Shaw’s blistering follow-up onto the post.

    England midfielder Jesse Lingard also restated his case for inclusion at Wembley with a lively performance that carried threat without goals – Adrian repelling three of his efforts.

    As the minutes ticked down, United appeared to settle for their point instead of chasing all three.

    Isolated Arnautovic

    After ensuring the club’s Premier League survival at Leicester, Moyes said he wanted West Ham “to look up the table” as he sought to end the season with a potential – but unlikely – top-10 finish.

    Victory would have drawn West Ham level with Newcastle in 10th place – albeit with a significantly worse goal difference – but the hosts struggled to match such ambition as they exhibited the symptoms of a team that has failed to win consecutive Premier League fixtures since January 2017.

    Despite the best efforts of Marko Arnautovic, who has delivered 10 goals since Moyes converted him to a central striker earlier in the campaign, the Hammers struggled to impose themselves.

    The Austrian international appeared to have the better of United defender Chris Smalling from the moment he turned past him in the seventh minute and fired straight at United goalkeeper David De Gea from 20 yards.

    And while that narrative continued, he too often cut an isolated figure as West Ham’s attacking threat amounted to just two shots on target and one corner in 90 minutes.

    More to follow.

    View the original article: http://www.bbc.co.uk/sport/football/43361365


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