Manchester United and Manchester City missed the chance to demonstrate their title credentials with a cagey stalemate in their derby at Old Trafford on Saturday.
United had beaten their neighbours home and away in the league last season and thought they had won a penalty at the start of the second half when Kyle Walker clipped Marcus Rashford, but VAR rightly stepped in to correct a missed offside.
City were unusually lacklustre but did force under pressure David de Gea to deny Riyad Mahrez in a one-on-one and United captain Harry Maguire came up with key blocks from Gabriel Jesus and Kevin De Bruyne shots.
In total, there were just four shots on target in the match, and on an evening when caution appeared to be the focus for both sides, neither deserved the win. Instead, the draw leaves United and City four and five points, respectively, off leading sides Tottenham and Liverpool ahead of their games on Sunday.
Man Utd: De Gea (7), Wan-Bissaka (5), Lindelof (8), Maguire (7), Shaw (6), Fred (7), McTominay (8), Pogba (7), Fernandes (6), Greenwood (5), Rashford (5).
Subs: Martial (6)
Man City: Ederson (6), Walker (6), Dias (6), Stones (8), Cancelo (7), Rodri (6), Fernandinho (6), Mahrez (6), De Bruyne (7), Sterling (6), Jesus (5).
Subs: Torres (6)
Man of the match: John Stones (Man City)
How rivals cancelled each other out
The pre-match focus had centred on Paul Pogba and his starting role, following comments made by his agent earlier in the week that he "had to change teams" in the upcoming transfer window, but few expected the Frenchman to play wide left, with Mason Greenwood on the right of a midfield four and Bruno Fernandes playing off Rashford.
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer - who had won three of his last four meetings against Pep Guardiola's side - found a formation to frustrate the visitors, though, and City, despite dominating the early possession, were sluggish and conservative.
Meanwhile United went close when Scott McTominay almost turned in Luke Shaw's flicked-on corner and Bruno Fernandes failed to connect cleanly with a volley from Victor Lindelof's fine past forwards.
City sparked into life on 21 minutes when Raheem Sterling combined with De Bruyne before seeing his shot from 10 yards blocked by Harry Maguire and moments later the previously uninvolved Mahrez clipped an excellent pass through but Gabriel Jesus' half-volley flew over.
- Paul Pogba started for Man Utd, with David de Gea retaining his place in goal but Edinson Cavani missed out with injury.
- Sergio Aguero was not fit enough to make the Man City squad but John Stones was picked ahead of Aymeric Laporte to partner Ruben Dias in defence, while Kyle Walker and Fernandinho came into the side.
They were only flashes from an uncharacteristically static City but the visitors were at their electric best on 35 minutes when De Bruyne shuttled on Jesus' pass and found Mahrez in acres at the back post. Under pressure De Gea was out well to block, though, and De Bruyne fired over the rebound.
Lindelof joined his centre-back partner Maguire in heading over a first-half corner just before the break but will have been satisfied to limit City to just four shots of their own in the opening period, the lowest Pep Guardiola's side have fired off in the first 45 minutes of a Premier League match since their last trip to Old Trafford in March.
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Mason Greenwood and Rashford failed to have a touch in the Man City box in the first half but the latter was in the City area just four minutes into the second period and looked to have won a penalty when Kyle Walker caught his boot - but a VAR check rightly spotted an offside infringement from the striker in the build-up.
Greenwood ended his wait for a touch in the box five minutes later, coming inside before sliding his shot beyond the far post and Rashford crashed beyond the same post with a left-foot blast from just inside the area soon after.
At the other end, City remained disjointed, with Fernandinho shooting wide from range and De Bruyne overhitting a free-kick, but the Belgian did force Maguire into another important block on 69 minutes after Jesus' lay-off.
Fernandes tried his luck with a couple of off-target efforts from distance as the game wore down, but there was no moment of magic in this game with just four shots on target in the whole match.
What the managers said...
Man Utd boss Ole Gunnar Solskjaer: "It was a tight game, two good teams. I know we beat them a few times last season, but they were different games, we counter attacked them. Today was the most we've been in the game possession-wise, control, we kept them away from our box more, but they had a few moments. Tactically we knew they were going to give us some problems, and I thought defensively we were excellent.
"I'm delighted with the defensive shape, then again with the ball we didn't' create as much as we wanted to. Overall with a draw, everyone should be happy with that. [The glass is] always half full with me. That's just the way you have to look at it. In my time against City that's the best performance we've had. Not the best result, but the best performance."
Man City boss Pep Guardiola: "We didn't lose, last season we lost. We created enough chances, and considering the opponent, it's a good point. The important thing is we didn't concede, we were so solid. The last five minutes, I think everyone was thinking: OK, we don't want to lose.
"We didn't concede counter attacks, that's important. If we struggle to score goals, we have to be solid in the defensive department. We have to be a little bit sharper up front, but we will improve next time."
- Manchester United are unbeaten against Manchester City in three games in all competitions (W2 D1), their best run without defeat against the Citizens since March 2016 (another run of 3).
- Manchester City have failed to score in two consecutive away league games for the first time since January 2017 (2 games).
- Manchester United have kept three consecutive clean sheets against Manchester City in all competitions for the first time since a run of four in October 1995.
- Manchester City have kept a clean sheet in each of their last six games in all competitions, their longest run of shut-outs since another run of six ending in January 2019.
- This was just the fifth goalless draw between these two sides in 47 Premier League meetings, with three of them coming in the last 11 clashes.
- Manchester have failed to find the back of the net in three home league games this season, one more than in the whole of last season.
- Three of the last four instances of Manchester City mustering fewer than 10 shots in a single Premier League away game have come at Old Trafford, with the Citizens managing nine in this game.
- Raheem Sterling extended his run of never scoring against Manchester United to 17 Premier League games, over 10 more games than he's faced any other side in the competition without a goal.
Manchester United are away to Sheffield United on Thursday at 8pm, while Manchester City host West Brom at 8pm on Tuesday. Follow both games on skysports.com and through the Sky Sports app.