By Rob Kelly
We had to settle for a point in a game of few clear-cut chances against Manchester United on Saturday evening.
Both sides had their moments - and we came closest when Alex Lacazette hit the bar with a superb free kick – but neither were able to strike a decisive blow.
The big news prior to kick off was the absence of Bukayo Saka, Kieran Tierney and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang from our teamsheet, but we soon settled into the game.
In truth, neither side imposed themselves to any great degree for much of first half, although Alex Lacazette tested David De Gea from outside the area, while Bernd Leno had to be alert to palm away a shot from Fred.
But as we neared the break, Thomas Partey fired wide after a powerful surge forward, before Nicolas Pepe curled one just wide after a pacey counter-attack started by Emile Smith Rowe.
The visitors had their best spell of the opening period just before the interval, with Aaron Wan-Bissaka heading wide, before Bruno Fernandes broke into the box and curled a shot inches beyond the far post.
Leno was then really quickly off his line to deny Marcus Rashford, and the second half started with a big chance for us as the ball broke to Willian – on for Gabriel Martinelli – but he scuffed his shot.
Seconds later the Brazilian teed up Pepe in the area, but Harry Maguire blocked the Ivorian’s goalbound effort as we dominated the early exchanges.
At the other end, Edinson Cavani missed a golden chance for the visitors from close range but we continued to push and probe as we sought the breakthrough.
Lacazette hit the bar with a free kick from the edge of the box as he turned up the heat, and seconds later Emile Smith Rowe stung the hands of De Gea.
Rashford hit the side netting for United as the game entered the final 10 minutes, while Pepe soon curled a shot beyond the far post after being played in by Hector Bellerin.
Martin Odegaard came on towards the end for his debut, but the biggest chance remaining in the game came for the visitors a minute from the end when Cavani put it wide from close range.
That proved to be the last opportunity of note as the final whistle blew on a bitterly-cold evening in north London.
HOW IT HAPPENED
WHAT IT MEANS
We’re back in Premier League action on Tuesday night as we travel to Molineux to face Wolves, before heading to Aston Villa next Saturday.
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