Manchester United to Finish Second After Draw at West Ham

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United finish second
LONDON, ENGLAND - MAY 10: Mark Noble of West Ham United puts his hands around the throat of Paul Pogba of Manchester United during the Premier League match between West Ham United and Manchester United at London Stadium on May 10, 2018 in London, England. (Photo by Steve Bardens/Getty Images)
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The match between West Ham and Manchester United finished in a goalless draw, which saw the Reds reach 78 points. With Tottenham four points behind them with one match to play, the results means United finish second.

Manchester United Finish Second Following Goalless Draw

Two Physical Teams

Going into the match, both sides knew a draw would see United finish second. In truth, the two teams delivered a largely scrappy affair at the London Stadium, but there were still exciting moments from two physically powerful sides. For example, with seven minutes on the clock, Marko Arnautović powered through the heart of the Manchester United defence to fire a shot at David De Gea. Arnautović continued to force Chris Smalling in particular into a number of uncomfortable situations in the first half.

United found some real momentum at the 20-minute mark. That was when Scott McTominay unleashed a ferocious strike from outside the box just past Adrián’s right post. Seconds later, Jessie Lingard took a swipe of his own from distance, which forced the West Ham keeper to palm the ball behind for a corner. The barrage continued when Antonio Valencia squared a ball for Alexis Sánchez at the top of the West Ham box. The former Arsenal man smashed his effort on target, but Adrián stood up to the effort well. The ball then fell to Luke Shaw, who hammered his own shot on target. The West Ham goalkeeper was there again to make a wonderful save with his right leg. This was comfortably the best passage of play of the match for United.

Sparring

In the second half, West Ham’s Marko Arnautović, João Mário and Manuel Lanzini made driving runs into opposition territory on the hour mark. Victor Lindelöf, in particular, showed great maturity while diffusing Arnautović’s clever movements and physical threats.

Soon after, United conjured their best moment of the second half with Paul Pogba curling an effort past Adrián’s left post. Pogba often cruised by West Ham players, using his strength effectively. Still, United fans know that Pogba can produce more creativity than he did at the London Stadium. In the reverse fixture at Old Trafford, for example, Pogba kept United ticking for a 4-0 thrashing of West Ham.

Just short of 90 minutes, the Frenchman brought down Mark Noble from behind. Noble sprung back up and slammed his chest into Pogba’s before grabbing his face and twisting his neck. Pogba refused to be drawn into a brawl and laughed off the aggressive Noble. On another day, the West Ham talisman would have received a red card, but instead both players received yellow cards.

Oddly, Pogba and Noble shared a warm embrace at the final whistle. Even the managers refused to fuel any drama, with José Mourinho in particular cracking jokes about the confrontation. Naturally, a debate will arise as to whether or not Mark Noble should receive a retrospective match ban. On the one hand, both players demonstrated that the incident was already forgotten. From another perspective, football players act as role models in society, which make genuine physical confrontations unacceptable.

Personal and Collective Milestones

With this result, David De Gea reached 18 clean sheets for the season. That is, no other goalkeeper in the Premier League can match this tally, and he will take home the Golden Glove award. United fans will almost unanimously agree that this man deserves the prestige. The Spanish keeper makes world-class saves almost every week. Indeed, fans often equate him to a brick wall while discussing his performances. Every time a transfer window passes, the United faithful breath a sigh of relief that they still have a superhero between the sticks.

On a more collective note, José Mourinho had set the target of his side finishing in second place ever since Manchester City opened up a sizable gap at the top of the Premier League. Make no mistake, the Special One will take little pride in his team finishing second. However, in the grand scheme of his reign as the Manchester United boss, this season will be acceptable, especially with an FA Cup final still to come. United will also finish the season with more points and goals than last season. Those who have followed football over the last two decades will know not to count José Mourinho out next season after Manchester United finish second.

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