West Ham produced another credible away performance by holding Manchester United to a 0-0 draw at Old Trafford.
With Mauro Zarate and Winston Reid both hitting the post and good chances spurned by Victor Moses and Zarate, the result could have resulted in a famous win to go with those already gained this season at Arsenal, Manchester City and Liverpool. In reply, Manchester United had one shot on target out of 21 that went wide, and Adrian was equal to Marouane Fellaini's solitary effort.
For all their flair going forward, West Ham have looked brittle in defence all season, but this display brought back memories of the type of mean-spirited, obdurate, rear-guard action commonly seen under Sam Allardyce.
The most encouraging aspect of the Hammers' performance was the defensive partnership of Reid and newly restored Angelo Ogbonna. Reid was absolutely immense at the centre of the Hammers back four, and with James Tomkins replacing Carl Jenkinson at right-back, Slaven Bilic was able to oversee a promising change in defence. This was West Ham's first clean sheet in nine games.
Although Bilic was keen to renew Jenkinson's loan deal from Arsenal following his successful campaign with the club last season, it is obvious that at some stage, the Hammers will need to address the situation on the right side of the defence. Tomkins, though generally regarded as a centre-back, has done enough on the right flank to suggest the club might have a ready-made answer to the dilemma that will be posed at the end of Jenkinson's extensive loan.
That might prove fortuitous for the popular 26-year-old Tomkins, as Reid looks far more comfortable alongside Italian international Ogbonna. Reid's towering performance was never more apparent than when he threw his whole body in front of an Anthony Martial point-blank shot. It was the type of do-or-die action loved by coaching staff and fans alike.
Post-match, however, all the New Zealander wanted to talk about was the elbow thrown by Bastian Schweinsteiger that should have seen the German sent off. Mark Clattenburg missed the incident and later failed to see a nasty stamp by Fellaini that could also have led to a red for the Belgian.
Inevitably, any consideration of the match will have to mention Manchester United's 21 shots, and there will certainly have been times in recent memory when the Hammers might have come away from the game with nothing. Bilic's men might have reason to thank the fact that Louis Van Gaal's shot-shy team were without Wayne Rooney, but the Hammers had Manuel Lanzini to add to the injury list containing Dimitri Payet and Diafra Sakho, and their creative edge was blunted without them.
Alex Song returned to good effect, though, and his tackles were crucial in keeping the game tight. With Michail Antonio replacing Moses when the Chelsea loanee suffered a knock and Pedro Obiang replacing the tiring Song late on, at least all the squad are involved, and nobody is feeling frustrated on the bench.
Five games without a win create a slight worry for Bilic as he attempts to keep the rest of his staff injury-free for the upcoming Christmas period, but this defensive display will encourage the manager. If the team can keep picking up points in the manner they did at Old Trafford, fans won't mind either.