Ole Gunnar Solskjaer is not concerned by Bruno Fernandes' waning impact in Manchester United's attack, believing his team-mates can profit from the midfielder's mere presence.

Fernandes has not provided a goal or an assist in his past three appearances in all competitions, each of which have seen United held to goalless draws.

Prior to his mini barren run, the Portugal international had averaged 3.8 shots and 2.9 chances created per 90 minutes, enjoying 83.4 touches, including 3.6 in the opposition box.

Over the three games since scoring and assisting against Newcastle United, he has averaged two shots and 2.8 chances per 90, touching the ball in the area at the same rate but seeing his overall involvement drop to 72.4 touches.

It is only a slight drop-off from Fernandes' lofty standards, but combined with United's underwhelming run – they have not had a single 'big chance' since their two against Newcastle – it has prompted discussion.

Solskjaer is not worried, however, calling on his other United stars to step up, starting against rivals Manchester City on Sunday.

"We expect everyone to be a leader, everyone to take that responsibility," Solskjaer said.

"Of course it might be Bruno, but I know that teams are trying to man-mark him at times and that's not a dig at anyone.

"That's just that sometimes in football they try to stop your best player. And someone else will have to step forward.

"Bruno might find a position, make space for others, create. He has created chances for others even when he has not touched the ball. And you see others have created chances for Bruno when they've not touched the ball.

"It's about the movement and creating space for your team-mate and taking that responsibility.

"We have had big moments in big games recently. Chances that we would normally put away and then everyone is rosy, everyone says we are the best thing since sliced bread.

"The away game against Chelsea wasn't far away from being almost a perfect away game. We should have had a penalty, we should have got the last counter-attack, one last pass away from winning the game.

"It is about taking the big moments and having some luck in the big moments."

Since Fernandes made his United debut in February 2020, he has been involved in 54 goals in all competitions, ranking third across Europe's 'top five' leagues behind only Robert Lewandowski (74) and Lionel Messi (60).

Only that superstar duo and former United sensation Cristiano Ronaldo have attempted more shots than Fernandes' 202.

Meanwhile, he tops the charts for chances created (158) over that span, just ahead of City's Kevin De Bruyne (156).

Manchester City will be aiming to open up a surely unassailable 17-point gap over Manchester United with a win in Sunday's derby, yet former Red Devils winger Nani insists the Premier League leaders are not stronger than Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's side. 

United have received plenty of negative press lately for their poor recent record when facing other members of the so-called 'big six', with last weekend's 0-0 draw at Chelsea the sixth successive game against such calibre of opponent in which they have failed to score. 

Five of those six matches ended 0-0, while the last time United managed to get a goal against the league's biggest clubs was the 6-1 humiliation by Tottenham in early October. 

Such omens do not offer a particularly bright outlook ahead of their trip to the runaway leaders, with City heading into the weekend just one match away from setting a new club record, having now gone 28 games unbeaten across all competitions.

But ex-United star Nani, who lost four of his eight games against City for the club, insists sheer ability alone is not the reason for the gap in the table. 

Speaking to Stats Perform News, Nani said: "What I have seen of this team and what I saw from last season, United are building a strong team. They are building a young, strong team, so that's very good. 

"Man United have a great coach now and it's a matter of time [before they challenge for honours]. I think some of the players need to get more experience, learning fast how they win certain games in certain moments, because I see moments where there is no chance of losing any points and yet they lost. 

"That's why now, if you see the top of the table, it makes a little bit of difference because otherwise they would be sharing the position in the table with Man City. 

"I don't see Man City stronger than Man United, I see they look more experienced, and they are in a good form. I think the next game will be important for the end of the season if they beat Man City, we have all the chance and I think we're going to win it because that is a different game. But they have to go with everything." 

Despite his confidence in United, Nani appreciates the job Guardiola has done in 2020-21 – after all, City took just 12 points from their first eight matches amid a sluggish start to the season. 

Yet, Guardiola turned things around and City have not dropped a single point since being held to a 1-1 draw by West Brom on December 15, Nani singling out the manager's influence in restoring the confidence of certain key performers.

"I think Guardiola has been doing a great job this season, to get the team together," Nani added. "They seem a very confident team when they play.

"He brought back some players whose confidence was down, like Bernardo Silva. He put Joao Cancelo [in] - Cancelo is doing fantastic for the team, and all the players at the front, they are not scoring so many goals as before, but they have been important.

"There are players who last season did not appear so much, like [Ilkay] Gundogan, who this season has been amazing. He scored so many goals and is giving so many assists. So, it's important when you don't have important players available, like Kevin De Bruyne, you can bring another player who can appear and help the team."

While Nani alluded to Silva's increased importance, it's another Portugal international who is seen as arguably the catalyst to City's improvement this season: Ruben Dias.

The centre-back fits in perfectly with Guardiola's philosophy of building from the back and has formed an outstanding partnership with John Stones – when playing together they have won 13 of 14 Premier League matches this term, keeping 11 clean sheets, and Nani believes Dias has proven himself one of the best around.

"Yes, he's proved already that he's one of the best in the world," Nani continued. "I think if people don't think that, then very soon they will change their mind because the way he's been performing for the team, the way he has been helping in a defensive way, that is one of the reasons in the second half of the season City is performing and conceding less goals.

"It's also partly [down to] John Stones. I think it's important when the defence of the team is solid, it's much easier for the ones who play at the front to perform and to be more relaxed to create the chances to score."

Manchester United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer is yet to concede the Premier League title to runaway leaders and neighbours Manchester City, while he talked up the club's progress.

Stuttering United are second and 14 points adrift of neighbours City ahead of Sunday's Manchester derby at the Etihad Stadium.

United go into the fixture having won only two their previous eight Premier League matches, a run that has not only dashed their title hopes but left the Red Devils vulnerable in the top-four race.

Fifth-placed Everton are only five points adrift of United – who are through 27 games – with a match in hand.

Despite United's wobbling form and City's comprehensive advantage, Solskjaer has not given up hope on Premier League silverware.

"There are still 11 games to go in the Premier League," Solskjaer told reporters. "I have always said, let's get to at least March and April before we talk about a title race. You don't talk about title races after 18-19 games.

"We have given ourselves a very good chance of improving on last season by the position we're in. I'd rather be in the position we're in now, compared to the situation we were in last season. But of course, in the Premier League, there are lots of quality teams.

"What we can control is ourselves and if we do our jobs and get as many points as I think we can do, I'm sure we'll be up there."

United are unbeaten in 21 Premier League matches away from home (W13 D8). In top-flight history, only Arsenal have had a longer away undefeated streak, going 23 without defeat between August 2001 and September 2002 and 27 without defeat between April 2003 and September 2004.

Solskjaer's United are looking to win three consecutive away games in all competitions against City for the first time since a run of four between November 1993 and November 2000.

This week, United executive vice-chairman Ed Woodward said the club have made clear progress under Solskjaer in 2020-21, and the Norwegian responded on Friday.

Solskjaer – looking to become the first manager in United's history to win each of his first three away meetings with City in all competitions – added: "Of course, you want to win every game of football, you do. But if we compare to last season, we're quite a bit higher in the league compared to the same stage. We're still through in Europe and the FA Cup.

"It's probably the league that you think, 'yeah, that's where we've shown the progress'. Hopefully, we can prove in the Europa League and the FA Cup that we have taken another further step.

"This team, the ambitions are there, of course. We have more experience to be in this position, compared to last season. We're gelling more as a team, they're fitter but at the moment, we look short term and that's Sunday, to get back to creating chances, taking them and scoring goals again."

Dean Henderson will start for Manchester United in Sunday's derby with City after David de Gea returned to Spain to attend the birth of his first child.

De Gea missed Wednesday's 0-0 draw at Crystal Palace, with manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer describing the reasons for his absence as "personal".

It became readily apparent just why De Gea had skipped the trip to Selhurst Park when, on Friday, he posted an image on social media to mark the birth of baby Yanay.

Solskjaer is confident Henderson is ready for the challenge that awaits him at the Etihad Stadium this weekend, with City unbeaten in 28 matches, having won 21 in a row.

"I will give David the time he needs before he comes back," said Solskjaer, whose side have a win percentage of 69 without De Gea from 13 games, compared to 52 from 29 with him in goal. 

"He wanted to go and be there, so there was not even a decision to make. Dean is ready, so we can give him the time he needs.

"As soon as David travels back we have to follow the rules, so I expect him to be ready very soon.

"We allowed him to go back and we want him back as soon as possible – but he is a human being. I don't know when he is back, but it won't be long."

United go into the fixture 14 points behind their rivals, having won only two of their previous eight Premier League matches.

It is a run that has left them vulnerable to slipping out of the top four, with fifth-placed Everton five points behind but boasting a game in hand.

However, Solskjaer is refusing to look beyond this weekend's match, as United seek to win a third consecutive game at City for the first time since 2000.

"Our focus is on this game, not where we are going to end up," said the Norwegian, who expects Paul Pogba to miss out but is more hopeful over Victor Lindelof and Anthony Martial.

"We want to be the best possible Man United and try to improve on last season, get to a final and win a trophy. They are ahead of us by a fair distance.

"I can only control what is happening at Man United, there are so many differences between the clubs.

"They are the only team ahead of us at the moment. It's a fantastic spell, with great form and 21 wins."

Despite United's recent wobble, with their previous three games have ended goalless, Solskjaer is not worried about a general loss of form.

"We have had a week without scoring a goal, not six weeks of bad form," he said, with United never having drawn 0-0 four times in a row.

"We beat Real Sociedad 4-0 and Southampton 9-0. The amount of games can have an effect.

"I am not buying into the narrative that we have had such a dip in form. We have defended well but we have lacked a little spark to score a goal."

The visitors have an outstanding away record to protect, having avoided defeat in their previous 21 trips on the road.

In top-flight history, only Arsenal have enjoyed a longer unbeaten run away from home (twice: 23 and 27).

Manchester United executive vice-chairman Ed Woodward lauded the "progress" made by the side under manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer this season.

Speaking as the club's latest quarterly financial results were announced, Woodward said United have made progress, both on-field and commercially over the past 12 months amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Woodward highlighted the work of Solskjaer, whose side are second in the Premier League, 14 points adrift of runaway leaders and neighbours Manchester United.

United registered their sixth goalless Premier League draw of the season – the club's joint-most ever in a campaign, along with 2004-05 and 2016-17 - following Wednesday's disappointing 0-0 stalemate at Crystal Palace.

The Premier League giants have also drawn three consecutive matches 0-0 in all competitions for the first time since October 2015 under Louis van Gaal.

"The progress made by Ole and the players this season is clear and our thriving Academy and Women's team are also adding to the optimism we feel about the future on and off the pitch," Woodward said.

United – without a Premier League title since 2012-13 – are also into the FA Cup quarter-finals and the Europa League last 16 this season, while they reached the EFL Cup semi-finals.

The Red Devils exited the Champions League in the group stage after a bright start in a tough group including last season's runners-up Paris Saint-Germain and 2019-20 semi-finalists RB Leipzig, but eased past Real Sociedad last week in the Europa League last 32.

Domestically, United are the fifth top-flight team to remain unbeaten in their first 14 away top-flight matches in a season (W8 D6), after Leeds United in 1973-74, Liverpool in 1987-88 and Arsenal in both 2001-02 and 2003-04.

United's unbeaten away run in the league extends back 21 matches until the 2-0 loss to eventual champions Liverpool in January 2020.

Solskjaer took over as United manager on a caretaker basis in December 2018 following Jose Mourinho's dismissal, winning the job permanently in March 2019 on a three-year deal.

The Norwegian has less than 18 months remaining on that contract but revealed last month has not yet opened discussions with the club about an extension.

Meanwhile on United's commercial progress, Woodward added: "While the disruption to our operations remains significant, we are pleased by the tremendous resilience the club has demonstrated through the pandemic, underpinned by the dedication of our people and the strength of our commercial business.

"We have been reminded of the importance of football as a source of community, entertainment and pride to fans around the world, even as we have sorely missed them at Old Trafford."

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer is weighing up whether to block Manchester United star Bruno Fernandes from travelling with Portugal during the international break due to COVID-19 quarantine.

Portugal are scheduled to play three World Cup qualifiers this month – at home to Azerbaijan (March 24), away to Serbia (March 27) and on the road against Luxembourg (March 30).

Linking up with Portugal would mean Fernandes would be subject to a 10-day quarantine in a government-approved hotel upon his return to the United Kingdom amid the coronavirus pandemic.

It would also leave Solskjaer without the services of Fernandes against Brighton and Hove Albion (April 3) and Tottenham (April 10).

Asked about the situation following Wednesday's goalless draw away to Crystal Palace, United manager Solskjaer told reporters: "We have not sat down and made a proper call on that one but it doesn't make sense if you lose your player for 10 days' isolation.

"We are the ones paying the players, from what I understand, that [being allowed to ban players travelling] is the rule. 

"FIFA have given the rule that they don't have to be released, so it is going to be a hard call to make to let them play in red-list countries.

"I want Bruno ready for Brighton and hopefully we will be through in Europe and against Tottenham after that break, of course I do."

United were held to their third successive scoreless draw across all competitions after firing another blank against Palace midweek.

Solskjaer's faltering United produced another toothless display at Selhurst Park, where the Red Devils slipped 14 points adrift of runaway leaders Manchester City ahead of Sunday's derby.

United registered their sixth goalless Premier League draw of the season – the club's joint-most ever in a campaign, along with 2004-05 and 2016-17.

The Premier League giants have also drawn three consecutive matches 0-0 in all competitions for the first time since October 2015 under Louis van Gaal.

"Of course we're not happy when you don't create chances enough to win a game," Solskjaer said. "Of course, it's been a week with no goals, and sometimes three games sounds a lot without scoring.

"It was not considered either but a week in a season like this sometimes is... yeah, you just don't hit the form that you normally had, that you have had for many, many months, so it's a bit of a worry. Of course it is.

"But, I know that the boys are given everything. And that's the thing with we play every three days, and I know they given everything they've got so attitude and approach I'm very happy with the quality. We need to get back to what we know we can do."

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer admitted he is worried by Manchester United's goal drought following their 0-0 Premier League draw away to Crystal Palace.

United were held to their third successive scoreless draw across all competitions after firing another blank against Palace on Wednesday.

Solskjaer's faltering United produced another toothless display at Selhurst Park, where the Red Devils slipped 14 points adrift of runaway leaders Manchester City ahead of Sunday's derby.

United registered their sixth goalless Premier League draw of the season – the club's joint-most ever in a campaign, along with 2004-05 and 2016-17.

The Premier League giants have also drawn three consecutive matches 0-0 in all competitions for the first time since October 2015 under Louis van Gaal.

United manager Solskjaer conceded he is concerned post-match, with his team only a point clear of third-placed Leicester City through 27 matches.

"Of course it's a concern," Solskjaer told Match of the Day. "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, the quality again and try and win the games."

He added: "It's not good as you know if you want to move up the table, you need to win. You have to earn the right, you have to win tackles, you have to fight, you have to play passes better. We kept giving the ball away.

"The tempo was missing, once in a while it happens. It wasn't one of our best nights that's for sure.

"[Palace manager] Roy Hodgson always sets his teams up to be really hard to play against and it just showed again tonight.

"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."

United goalkeeper Dean Henderson started in the absence of star David de Gea, who was sidelined due to personal reasons.

Henderson impressed midweek, the England international staking his claim for a regular starting berth with a superb save to deny Patrick van Aanholt late in the second half.

"That's a Man Utd goalkeeper, sometimes you have to keep concentrating," Solskjaer told Sky Sports. "He's growing in that position. I thank him for one point and not zero."

Asked when De Gea will return, Solskjaer replied: "That's a private matter. It'll take the time it takes."

Manchester United have concerns over David de Gea and Anthony Martial ahead of Sunday's derby with Premier League leaders Manchester City.

Neither De Gea nor Martial travelled to London for Wednesday's game with Crystal Palace at Selhurst Park.

Dean Henderson was named as starting goalkeeper, with Lee Grant among the substitutes, with De Gea absent due to personal reasons.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer selected an attack of Marcus Rashford, Mason Greenwood and Edinson Cavani, with Martial having sustained a knock during training.

It is unclear whether either player will be available to face City at the Etihad Stadium.

"David, that's personal reasons," United manager Solskjaer told MUTV about the absences.

"Anthony got a knock in training on Monday, on his knee, so [he is] not ready for this. Hopefully, [he will be] ready for the weekend but we're not sure yet."

Henderson has only started twice in the league this season and there are reports he could ask to leave Old Trafford if he is not assured of more playing time next season, the former Sheffield United loanee having mostly been limited to European and domestic cup appearances.

"Let's hope he performs as well as he has done all season," said Solskjaer. "He's got his chance now. He's been waiting patiently, he's been working really hard and of course he's ready to grab his opportunity."

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has warned Manchester United fans they might have to do without blockbuster signings as the club counts the cost of the coronavirus pandemic.

United were heavily linked with Borussia Dortmund winger Jadon Sancho before the start of the season and are now one of a host of reported admirers for his team-mate Erling Haaland.

Both players would likely fetch transfer fees in excess of £100million, but United boss Solskjaer is unsure whether clubs will be so keen to engage in bidding wars as they adapt to a new financial climate.

"We have to be realistic, we have to be responsible in the way we do our business both on and off the pitch," he told reporters.

"There's improvements on the training ground, the stadium. We just have to look at the whole picture.

"Where can we spend the money? And how much is there? It's just the real world now. It has changed.

"Of course, all clubs in the world are going through the same situation so it's no different for other clubs than for us.

"I think there's just going to be less and less transfers happening in the world of football until this changes."

United brought in experienced striker Edinson Cavani on a free transfer this season.

The 34-year-old has six goals in 17 Premier League appearances this season, only eight of which have been starts.

Cavani is pushing to return from a muscular injury in time to face Crystal Palace on Wednesday, and Solskjaer has not ruled out bolstering his forward line, even if it means looking at more creative signings along the lines of the Uruguay international as opposed to chasing the likes of Haaland.

"I always say that Mason [Greenwood], Anthony [Martial], Edinson... when we can really get them really firing that means we're a very good team," he added,

"But we're always looking at better players, of course we are."

United travel to Palace looking to cut a 15-point gap to Manchester City before facing the Premier League leaders in Sunday's derby at the Etihad Stadium.

Manchester United are hopeful Edinson Cavani can return against Crystal Palace as they look to kickstart their season.

Cavani has missed United's past four games with a muscular problem.

United were held scoreless in two of the matches he missed, drawing 0-0 with both Real Sociedad and Chelsea last week.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's men still sit second in the Premier League ahead of their trip to face Palace on Wednesday, though rivals Manchester City are now 12 points clear.

"We have had a training session this morning," Solskjaer, whose side are on a 20-match unbeaten away run in the top flight, told reporters on Tuesday. 

"Edinson trained, he's joined in, that's good, let's hope there's no reaction after the session and hopefully he will travel with the squad.

"Of course, it was a light session and we are looking okay. 

"There are a couple of doubts from the Chelsea game plus the wear and tear of the season. So we have to give them as much time as possible."

He added to MUTV: "It looks good. Edi has got the desire and hunger and, of course, he wants to join in, even if it's from the bench. 

"Hopefully he will say [on Wednesday] that there has been no reaction."

Paul Pogba has been out for a month but there is no immediate prospect of his return, even though the midfielder is making progress.

Solskjaer also hopes Phil Jones will be able to play at some point this season as he battles a knee injury.

The United boss added: "Paul is still not ready for us.

"He is feeling better but he's not been training with the team yet, so he's definitely not travelling down to London.

"With Phil, obviously we hope [he will play again this season]. 

"He's working really hard, he's had a couple of setbacks and it's just that kind of injury you have to be patient with and give him time. I know all about these [knee] injuries.

"I'm not sure [when Jones will be back], how long is a piece of rope? That's how I felt as well, when I came back. We'll give him absolutely every chance this season, if not the start of next."

Palace have won two of their past three league meetings with United, as many as they had in their previous 27. 

United, though, have curiously fared much better in away games with Palace. They have never lost in 11 Premier League away games (eight wins) against the side from London.

That is the most one team has played at another without ever losing in the Premier League.

All of Solskjaer's focus has been on the upcoming clash, rather than the penalty United were denied for a handball claim against Callum Hudson-Odoi at Chelsea.

"That is water under the bridge," he added.

"You move onto the next one. We all know it’s a high-pressure situation and you have to accept the situations.

"We move on. All my focus after the game has been on Palace.

"I think the refs have a difficult enough job without extra pressure, so we should leave them to make as many good decisions as they can."

Luke Shaw and Ole Gunnar Solskjaer will not face action from the Football Assocation for their comments about referee Stuart Attwell after Manchester United's 0-0 draw at Chelsea on Sunday. 

United felt hard done by in the first half at Stamford Bridge when the video assistant referee (VAR) brought to Attwell's attention a possible handball by Callum Hudson-Odoi in his own penalty area. 

The incident occurred just before a tussle with Mason Greenwood, who subsequently also appeared to touch the ball with his arm. 

Attwell was advised to review Hudson-Odoi's action on the pitchside monitor, yet no penalty was given despite replays appearing to show the Chelsea wing-back's hand in an unnatural position when coming into contact with the ball.

Shaw claimed in a post-match interview with Sky Sports that Attwell had told United captain Harry Maguire giving them a penalty would "cause a lot of talk after". 

United later clarified that Shaw misheard Maguire's conversation with the official. 

While Solskjaer refused to explicitly repeat Shaw's accusations, he was aware of what was said and made no attempt to shut them down, before also insisting it was "100 per cent" a penalty. 

He then went on to accuse Chelsea of influencing referees via content published to their website ahead of the match, with Maguire's recent VAR brushes the focus of the article in question. 

Yet despite the comments made by Shaw and Solskjaer, neither is set to face any disciplinary action, with the FA not considering them to be in breach of the rules and regulations. 

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer could not hide his frustration at Manchester United's forwards after Sunday's 0-0 draw at Chelsea saw the club's disappointing run against the Premier League's other so-called "big six" sides continued.

The match was overshadowed by the controversial decision of referee Stuart Attwell not to award United a first-half penalty when Callum Hudson-Odoi handled in the area – the official sticking to his decision despite looking at the incident on the pitchside monitor.

While Solskjaer and Luke Shaw vented their anger at the situation in post-match interviews, the manager's news conference eventually turned to the other major talking point; United's inability to score against the league's better teams.

"We're not scoring enough goals, that's for sure," Solskjaer told reporters.

He is not wrong – the draw at Stamford Bridge was the fourth successive 0-0 draw United have played out against other "big six" opposition, while they have not scored in any of their past six meetings with teams of this calibre.

"We've come away with another good clean sheet, but as I said before this game, the next step for this team is to win these games, get the goal we need to get three points," he added.

"Of course, we should have got a penalty and I'd back Bruno [Fernandes] any day of the week, but we didn't have the right quality at the end in the four or five good breakaways in the second half."

While United did have 11 shots on Sunday, their xG (expected goals) rating was a poor 0.4 – Chelsea's was 1.16. While this suggests Thomas Tuchel's men were more wasteful, it also highlights the visitors struggled to craft quality chances.

This is by no means a new phenomenon in games of such magnitude either – United's overall xG in the matches in question is just 4.9, by no means a huge figure, yet they're still underperforming significantly in this area given their actual record of none scored.

"We haven't had the quality, fine margins or luck," Solskjaer said when asked to explain United's issues in these games.

"Today, it was mostly about the lack of quality in the last third. We had some moments when we were close, had some great counter opportunities, [but the] last pass or cross wasn't good enough.

"[We had] some near moments of course, Fred and Mason [Greenwood] had a few decent attempts, but we didn't have enough. That's the next step for us, and we will improve.

"Last season we had some great results but in a different manner. At the moment we try to develop this style and develop ourselves to win these games. Everything was really good defensively."

And that is perhaps the salient point – United have improved defensively in these games, with the solitary goal conceded in this run being a penalty against Arsenal.

But there's a chance this altered approach is impacting United's effectiveness going forward, with Solskjaer's men potentially preferring to play out a draw instead of going for it and risking defeat.

After all, United's shot count of 66 in the past six clashes with "big six" opposition is less than the 74 they've faced. While they may not be constantly sitting back, they're also not as threatening as the opponents.

The key to understanding this shift may lie with the game directly before the aforementioned run – it was the remarkable 6-1 defeat to Tottenham.

Only Solskjaer knows if that battering – which was obviously not helped by a sending off – has been playing on the minds of himself and his players, but it's also a thought former United captain Roy Keane has had.

"Maybe they are scarred from the Spurs game. I don't know the scoop, we're just guessing," Keane said. "But maybe their mindset is [impacted] going into these games. We've seen poor games.

"Sometimes you have a 0-0 and it's a fantastic game, the keepers are fantastic, missed penalties or whatever. But some of these games we've watched and covered have been really boring, considering there's some really good attacking players in the team."

For better or worse, United don't have to wait long for another opportunity to put this run right – the Manchester derby is less than a week away.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer was left fuming at referee Stuart Attwell's failure to award Manchester United a penalty in Sunday's 0-0 draw with Chelsea at Stamford Bridge.

In a game that saw the two sides largely cancel each other out, United were controversially denied an early opportunity to take the lead.

A Marcus Rashford free-kick was parried back into the danger zone by Edouard Mendy, with Mason Greenwood and Callum Hudson-Odoi subsequently drawn towards it.

The Chelsea man's hand was raised and came into contact with the ball, with the VAR urging Attwell to review the incident on the pitchside monitor.

However, he stuck to his initial decision of not awarding a penalty and it left Solskjaer bemused.

When asked by Sky Sports if he felt United should have had a penalty, Solskjaer said: "Yep, 100 per cent."

Then asked if he could understand Attwell's decision, he added: "No, not at all, especially when they stop it [the game in order to review the incident] and he walks across to watch it.

"For me, you can see it's a handball but you think it's our player who does it and they [the Chelsea bench] are shouting it's handball for our player and then look at the video and it's taken two points away from us."

United left-back Luke Shaw claimed in another post-match interview with Sky Sports that Attwell had told captain Harry Maguire awarding the penalty "would cause a lot of talk about it after".​

Although clearly aware of the accusation, Solskjaer did not explicitly repeat it, saying: "I can't say, because that's not going to be good for him [Attwell]. Of course it is [concerning]."

Shaw's exact words were then put to Solskjaer and again he expressed dismay, then going on to vent his anger at pre-match comments published on Chelsea's website that highlighted Maguire's recent brushes with VAR, suggesting such content can influence referees.

He added: "Exactly. Well, I didn't say it [Shaw's comments], so I don't want to cause controversy, but it's not right, is it?

"It's all this outside influence, even the VAR talk before the game here, that's cheeky, when they put that on the website – that's influencing referees.

"Go back and look at the website. You can read it, what they are saying about controversy and Harry Maguire – it's putting pressure on the referees for penalties against us."

Manchester United lost further ground at the top of the Premier League table as they drew 0-0 at Chelsea on Sunday, Thomas Tuchel's men benefiting from a contentious call relating to a potential penalty against them.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's side came into the weekend 10 points adrift of pacesetters Manchester City, but this draw coupled with the leaders' 2-1 win at West Ham on Saturday saw the gap increase to 12 as Pep Guardiola closes in on another Premier League title.

While a win for United at Stamford Bridge would not have changed a great deal, they will likely feel hard done by, as Callum Hudson-Odoi escaped unpunished when handling the ball in his own area during the first period.

Both sides had their chances after the interval but neither managed to apply the finishing touch, meaning for the first time in the five meetings between Tuchel and Solskjaer, the away manager could not leave with the spoils.

A fast and furious first half saw the two teams largely cancel each other out with their comparable high-pressing setups and solid defensive work, but United were controversially denied the chance to take an early lead.

Marcus Rashford's free-kick stung the hands of Edouard Mendy before dropping between Hudson-Odoi and Mason Greenwood, with the ball clearly hitting the hand of the Chelsea wing-back, yet referee Stuart Attwell refused to award a penalty even after going to the pitchside monitor.

Hudson-Odoi had a more positive impact just after the half-hour mark when Olivier Giroud nearly met his early cross, though chances at either end were a rarity otherwise.

Chelsea were straight on the front foot after the break, with David de Gea forced into a reflex save by Hakim Ziyech before Luke Shaw vitally blocked the rebound from Reece James – introduced at the interval for the injured Hudson-Odoi.

But United soon woke up again, with Greenwood shooting agonisingly wide of the top-left corner and Scott McTominay testing Mendy after a well-placed cut-back from Aaron Wan-Bissaka.

Timo Werner was denied a tap-in by Victor Lindelof and McTominay squandered a counter-attacking opportunity in the latter stages, with the game ultimately destined to end goalless.

Marcus Rashford was tasked with leading Manchester United's attack at Stamford Bridge, while Timo Werner dropped to the Chelsea bench.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer declared on Friday that he was unsure if Cavani, who has had a positive impact this season since arriving on a free transfer from Paris Saint-Germain, would overcome a knock which has kept him out since mid-February.

Paul Pogba was a confirmed absentee, however, and neither player featured as Solskjaer made five changes to his United team.

Rashford, who has been involved in seven goals in all competitions against Chelsea (five goals, two assists) – more than against any other side in his career – was instead given the central role that Anthony Martial had started in against Real Sociedad on Thursday.

That was one of five changes made by Solskjaer, who also brought back Luke Shaw, Harry Maguire, Scott McTominay and David de Gea.

United are unbeaten in 19 Premier League away games (W13 D6), a run that began with a 2-0 win at Chelsea in February 2020. 

This is the Red Devils' longest unbeaten away run in their top-flight history, though their previous longest of 17 between December 1998-September 1999 ended with a 5-0 defeat at Stamford Bridge, and Thomas Tuchel's Chelsea team have been in strong form.

After a frustrating draw with Southampton last week, Chelsea beat Atletico Madrid in the Champions League thanks to Olivier Giroud's stunning winner.

Giroud is rewarded with a start up top, with Tuchel making three alterations.

One of the players to drop out is Werner, who ended his long goalscoring drought in Chelsea's last home game – a 2-0 victory over Newcastle United.

Hakim Ziyech is in to partner Mason Mount – who has scored two goals in his last three Premier League games, as many as in his previous 21 in the competition – behind Giroud, with N'Golo Kante replacing Jorginho in midfield and Ben Chilwell coming in at left wing-back.

Opposite Chilwell, Callum Hudson-Odoi retains his place, despite the youngster being subbed on and subbed off in the draw with Southampton.

The away team has won all four of the previous managerial matches between Tuchel and Solskjaer, with all of those games taking place between United and PSG in the Champions League.

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