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exclusive Manchester United are not good enough to win the title, they'll come up short, well short

Red Devils once again fail to have a real go when it matters and this is going to prove costly

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Manchester United’s Paul Pogba (centre) and Arsenal’s Nicolas Pepe battle for the ball at the Emirates Stadium

Manchester United’s Paul Pogba (centre) and Arsenal’s Nicolas Pepe battle for the ball at the Emirates Stadium

Manchester United’s Paul Pogba (centre) and Arsenal’s Nicolas Pepe battle for the ball at the Emirates Stadium

What a dreadful game we suffered through at the Emirates Stadium last Saturday night.

Yes, there were a few goal chances, particularly in the second half.

But Manchester United didn't come at the match in the style or manner of potential champions.

For me, they are not going to be those champions.

They will be in the mix at the end of it all, but will come up short, well short because they cannot seem to beat the teams around them in the table when the chips are down.

United were top of the table a week ago and since then they have taken just one point out of a possible six.

When you get on top in any League, you drive on and make sure you stay there - that has been missing from Manchester United's make-up this season.

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Arsenal boss Mikel Arteta gives instructions.

Arsenal boss Mikel Arteta gives instructions.

Arsenal boss Mikel Arteta gives instructions.

It's why they won't be receiving the big silver trophy come May.

'I told you so' are not four of the nicest words in the English language.

But if Manchester United lose the Premier League title by two points come May, how they will rue that sub-par performance against bottom of the table Sheffield United last week.

After two good results and performances against Liverpool, United were lethargic and lacking purpose against the worst team in the Premier League.

They should have come out firing for that game - as the Premier League leaders.

Yes, United can still win the 2021 FA Cup because of the victory over Liverpool.

But for me, I'd have had my top men fit and firing for that League match - not playing on the fumes of beating Liverpool.

You expect to drop points here and there against the top teams, but that was a poor display by United when the stakes were really high against a team that cannot buy a result this season.

And it demonstrated for Bruno Fernandes and Edinson Cavani and anyone else who needs to learn it, one thing I have always banged on about when it comes to the Premier League.

It is a badge of honour that a team struggling against relegation will give their all against a top team.

It is just in the make-up of British and Irish professionals, who are on the playing staff at these clubs.

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Manager of Manchester United Ole Gunnar Solskjaer reacts during the match.

Manager of Manchester United Ole Gunnar Solskjaer reacts during the match.

Manager of Manchester United Ole Gunnar Solskjaer reacts during the match.

In La Liga, Serie A or the Bundesliga, the bottom teams try for 20 minutes against your Barcelonas and AC Milans.

Their conspiracy theories will always lead such a poor team to think 'the ref will give them a peno anyway'.

None of that applies in our football and United paid a high price for their lack of drive and determination against Sheffield United.

So the Red Devils went to North London on Saturday with a lot to play for and a lot to prove.

And they certainly didn't do anything in the first half to suggest they had the bit between their teeth in this one either.

I love watching football, I'll always find something interesting in a match to spark me off, to keep me entertained.

But this is the third time in two months that I've sat down to watch a Manchester United game, against a top team, and thought, after 20 minutes, "have I nothing else to be doing?"

And in the middle of a pandemic, I haven't.

But watching United play City in December and then play Liverpool in the Premier League a couple of weeks ago has been like watching paint dry.

There are two common themes.

In each of the three matches, United were playing a serious contender for the League title and in each of the games they went in with Fred and Scott McTominay as midfield 'sitters' in front of the back four.

It's as if Ole Gunnar Solskjaer does not trust his team to go out with an attacking intent, or to put all of the class acts up front he has at the club on the pitch at the same time.

McTominay had to come off just before half-time and that allowed Ole to get Anthony Martial onto the pitch and also to bring Paul Pogba into a central role in the contest.

Yes, if it was a boxing match,

United would have shaded the first half of points.

But in football that doesn't count for anything.

You need the big punch of a goal and, aside from one deflected United free-kick that whizzed over the Arsenal crossbar, there was no sign of it.

Even though the Gunners were on the back foot for a lot of the opening 45 minutes, I was seriously impressed by the contributions of Arsenal's Emile Smith-Rowe who has come on a ton in the last few weeks.

He looks like he will be a big player in Arsenal's future - he's got that bit of a creative spark that Manchester United - Bruno Fernandes apart - are lacking right now.

Arsenal did come out for the second half with a bit more purpose.

Perhaps they said to themselves "these guys are not committing to it - we can take them."

Alexander Lacazette hit the crossbar and then Smith-Rowe showed that class I wrote about with a strike that needed a good save from David de Gea.

But there was too much of a chess match aspect to this particular game.

And the nearer we got to the finish, the more the thought of one mistake offering up an opening for a goal to the opposition, caused the teams to rein in any ambition.

United weren't good enough on Saturday night and they won't be good enough at the end of it all either.

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