London – Manchester United fell 14 points behind Premier League leader Manchester City on Wednesday after being held to yet another scoreless draw by Crystal Palace on Wednesday.
The stalemate at a foggy Selhurst Park was United’s third straight goalless draw in all competitions ahead of Sunday’s Manchester derby against City, which is on a record-breaking 21-game winning streak.
Elsewhere, third-place Leicester had captain Kasper Schmeichel to thank for a point in a 1-1 draw at Burnley.
Aston Villa missed the chance to move to within two points of the top four after being upset 1-0 by last-place Sheffield United, which held on with 10 men over the final 30 minutes.
The point Man United came away with in south London left the club just one point ahead of Leicester, as the focus shifts to protecting a top-four spot and berth in the Champions League next season.
“We have to do much better, we have to risk more in attack to create more chances,” United midfielder Nemanja Matic, who almost broke the deadlock with a deflected shot, told Sky Sports.
“We are Manchester United, we have to win this kind of game. On Sunday we have a big game against Manchester City. We have to refocus for that.”
Keeping a third straight clean sheet did not impress United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, who stressed his side lacked the bite up front to turn draws into wins.
“Of course, it’s a concern,” he said. “When you have three clean sheets in a row, that will help you win games but we haven’t produced the quality. We just have to find a spark again and try to win games.
“A couple of times when we had the tempo in the right positions, we created decent opportunities but I don’t think we deserved anything more than one point.”
Leicester’s quest to get back to the Champions League next season has been hit by injuries to key players, with Chelsea, Liverpool and Everton all in position to close in on the Foxes.
Leicester fell behind early on Wednesday as Matej Vydra smashed home his first league goal in nearly 12 months to give Burnley the lead after just four minutes.
Kelechi Iheanacho, however, used a splendid volley to even the match in the 34th minute.
Schmeichel then produced two fine saves to deny Chris Wood early in the second half, parrying the New Zealander’s powerful header before getting down low to his right to turn a shot wide.
Ashley Westwood rattled the post for Burnley, but Leicester was the stronger side down the stretch.
“He’s been brilliant for me in my time here, there’s moments where it looks like it’s going to be a goal and he pulls off a save,” Leicester manager Brendan Rodgers said about Schmeichel afterward.
Sheffield United secured just its fourth league win of the season as David McGoldrick scored the only goal against a Villa side that was without injured captain Jack Grealish.
Although the Blades had Phil Jagielka sent off for denying a clear goalscoring opportunity when hacking down Anwar El Ghazi, ninth-placed Villa failed to take advantage.
The Blades are still 12 points from safety despite the win.
“Any result in this division is a huge result for Sheffield United,” manager Chris Wilder said.
“Obviously it was made a little more difficult going down to 10 men, but we showed good character — as I’ve spoken about all season regarding my team.”
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