By Robert Morris
This afternoon’s kick-off against Sunderland at the Stadium of Light was delayed by 20 minutes as a burst pipe apparently flooded the visitors dressing. However, by the end of a drab 0-0 draw, that will be the last thing on Sir Alex Ferguson’s mind as his side dropped another two points in the title race.
Another away game, another lacklustre performance from the Red Devils. Manchester United were held 0-0 at Sunderland, although, in hindsight, they were lucky to escape with even a point. Chelsea, who play tomorrow against Arsenal in an epic derby clash, will be salivating at the prospect of going five points clear at the top of the table.
Sir Alex Ferguson bizarrely chose to put faith in Michael Owen and Federico Macheda, whilst in-form Dimitar Berbatov sat on the bench. Sunderland dominated the first half hour as Manchester United struggled to get into their stride. The Black Cats almost took the lead when Steed Malbranque reached Lee Cattermole’s incisive through ball but bottled his effort against the imposing Van der Sar in goal. Before long there was further trouble for United as Bolo Zenden struck the post from over 20 yards.
Unsurprisingly, an unimpressive Michael Owen was replaced at the break by Dimitar Berbatov and it appeared the Bulgarian had made an instant impact by putting the ball in the net in the 48th minute; but he was correctly flagged offside.
The Red Devils did at least make a notable improvement and as usual it was Nani who impressed the most. Before long Mancheda was replaced by Hernandez and the youngster Bebe was given his debut; however both struggled to find their feet in the game.
Despite United keeping a clean sheet with relative ease, fans will not be satisfied to witness another toothless display which desperately lacks that creative spark; often served up last season by a red hot Wayne Rooney.
Manchester United, who have failed to win away from home all season, will now have to hope Arsenal can do them a big favour tomorrow by beating champions Chelsea.