Chelsea were held to a goalless draw by Manchester United at Stamford Bridge as the Red Devil’s kept their six point advantage on their hosts.
In an eagerly awaited contest, the game largely failed to live up to the hype. Although there was a fairly intense tactical battle between two dangerous sides, the lack of clear cut opportunities between the teams once again resulted in a 0-0 scoreline.
Manchester United will claim they should have had a first half penalty after the ball struck Callum Hudson-Odoi on the hand, but other than that, the away team struggled to force Edouard Mendy into many uncomfortable situations.
Both keepers only had one notable save each, Mendy denying the onrushing Scott McTominay and David De Gea’s outstretched arm thwarted Hakim Ziyech’s first time effort. Other than that, the game felt like cat and mouse. Despite the Blues possession and probing they were limited to half chances and Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s team weren’t clinical on the few counter attacks they could muster.
Chelsea 0-0 Manchester United: Like cutting steak with a butter knife
The talk before the game was that three points was much more important for Chelsea than the visitors. This was arguably shown during the game as Thomas Tuchel’s counter press forced a dominant second half from Chelsea. The toothless nature of the Chelsea attacks continues to be a cause for concern however.
Olivier Giroud failed to divert Hudson-Odoi’s first half cross, even with the Frenchman’s remarkable midweek winner he couldn’t be the difference maker again. In the second half Reece James, on for the injured Hudson-Odoi, also saw two superb crosses without recipients as Chelsea’s lack of cutting edge saw them miss out on moving to within three points of second place.
As for United, their low-block counter attacking style in the second half couldn’t force a winner, despite the claims from Solskjaer that his side were denied a penalty. Though, this felt much more like a distracted managerial cry to deflect attention from a lack-lustre team showing.
Chelsea miss clinical edge against Manchester United
In a week full of speculation regarding Tammy Abraham and Erling Haaland, Chelsea’s need for a world class striker was epitomised on the field. Although Giroud is so often brilliant at being a lone target man, his immobility made it hard for the Blues to progress their stern defence into meaningful attacks.
An example of Tuchel’s striker uncertainty was when Giroud was subbed off for Christian Pulisic midway through the second half. Chelsea once again had no focal point on the pitch. For all the possession and fluidity that their dynamic front three has (more in potential than anything right now), it isn’t scoring the goals to seal games.
Solid Chelsea shut out Manchester United
For all the frustration that Chelsea have only scored 10 goals in 10 games under Tuchel, the manager deserves credit for shoring up a leaky defence. It will be argued that the Blues could do with the extra attacking body to create more clear cut chances. But, Tuchel will be well aware that you can’t lose a game if you don’t concede, you can even if you score.
It is also more than worth mentioning the brilliance of Andreas Christensen and Antonio Rudiger as the pair once again answered any current critics with a commanding performance on and off the ball. Christensen completed an astonishing 100% pass accuracy as he often led the attacks, whilst Rudiger showed the same grit and determination against Manchester United as he did in Romania.
This will be seen as an opportunity lost rather than wasted for Chelsea. It keeps a great unbeaten record for Tuchel and hasn’t resulted in the loss of momentum. The lack of goalscoring is an issue, but not one that is impossible to fix. Chelsea are creating plenty and it feels like a matter of time before the floodgates open.
Until then, Chelsea must visit the home of the champions (for now) on Thursday, a game that now holds much more importance following this draw.
Written and edited by Tom Coley (@tomcoley49)
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