In what was a mellowed display of one of the fiercest rivalries of English football history, Premier League leaders Liverpool were held to a goalless draw against Manchester United at the Old Trafford Stadium in Manchester on Sunday.
Liverpool thus regained the standings top spot with 66 points, but its hopes of claiming the top English soccer league title could be dashed as it had just a one-point advantage over title-holder Manchester City, reports Efe news.
Manchester United, meanwhile, was fifth with 52 points and Arsenal held the fourth spot.
The first-half at Old Trafford on Sunday was marred by four forced substitutions, three for Manchester United over the injuries of Spaniards Ander Herrera and Juan Mata, and England’s Jesse Lingard, as well as Brazil’s Roberto Firmino of Liverpool.
Lingard became the first player to be substituted on and off the pitch during the first 45 minutes of a Premier League encounter since the 2014/2015 season.
On January 1, 2015, Burnley’s and Ireland’s defender Kevin Long took to the field as a replacement before he was substituted himself just 20 minutes later during the first-half of the EPL match against Newcastle United.
Manchester United’s head coach, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, relied on defensive play and quick counter-attacks, different from the offensive and entertaining performances shown in previous matches since he started his tenure with the Red Devils on December 19.
On the other side of the pitch, Liverpool was not able to penetrate United’s lines or get past its defence and goalie, David De Gea, especially in the first 45 minutes.
In the second half, Liverpool posed more threat to United’s net but still with no success, while United managed to find the visitors’ net in minute 75 only for the video assistant referee (VAR) to rule defender Chris Smalling as off-side.
In other Premier League action on Sunday, Arsenal defeated visiting Southampton 2-0 at Emirates Stadium to climb to the fourth spot in the standings with 53 points, while Southampton remains in the relegation zone on 24 points.
France forward Alexandre Lacazette secured Arsenal an early lead, opening the scoring just six minutes into play, with a close-range finish off an assist by Armenia playmaker Henrikh Mkhitaryan.
It was Mkhitaryan who doubled the scoring in minute 17 with a right footed-shot from the centre of the area, sending the ball into the bottom-right corner of the goal.