Manchester United played out yet another goalless draw against a Big 6 team, this time Thomas Tuchel’s Chelsea. They proved very lacking in concentration at times, despite looking the better team for most of the match. They will regret their missed opportunities, particularly late in the match, as the gap between them and Manchester City continues to grow.
Chelsea were on the front foot early, taking advantage of the space United offered from the high press and crossing it towards an in-form Olivier Giroud, dealt with by Shaw for a Corner. Chelsea’s lack of width looked potentially confusing for United’s defense, with their midfielders shifting across the formation in possession.
United were forced to absorb pressure early, but found a potential opportunity on the break in the 10th minute. Good awareness by Daniel James and Bruno Fernandes sent Rashford and Greenwood streaking up the pitch, but Rashford’s loft to try and find Greenwood was dealt with well by Chelsea’s recovering defenders.
A free kick opportunity gave Rashford a familiar view of Chelsea’s goal from an awkward distance, but Mendy was quick to the shot. It lacked both the power and dip that we saw from his spectacular strike last season.
There was a shout for penalty on the follow up as Hudson-Odoi appeared to touch the ball with his hand in the box, but Greenwood was guilty of the same accident and a drop ball was given instead to resume play.
Opportunities became hard to come by for both sides as the half went on, despite some sloppy giveaways at both ends. Olivier Giroud came close to converting a cross at around 35 minutes, but clattered into the post as a result. He was okay to carry on, but looked to be carrying some pain in his back from it.
The end to the half was a bit livelier than the preceding 30 or so minutes, and United had a couple decent looks. Edouard Mendy was never really challenged, but Chelsea built on their habit of giving the ball away in bad areas. If not for some deflections, miscues, and miscommunications United might have capitalized, but alas the half ended at 0-0.
Chelsea started the first half strong. Ziyech probably should have scored, but was denied from close range by a great save from De Gea. Reece James, who came on for Hudson-Odoi, was unable to get a follow up shot past Shaw, but Chelsea smelled blood. United broke the pressure momentarily with a counter attack, and Daniel James opted for a shot through the crowd with Greenwood drifting into space to his right. The deflection won a corner, but led to nothing.
United began to settle into the half around the hour Mark, and a couple chances by Greenwood and McTominay had us expecting the ball to get the back of the net. Greenwood’s flew just wide after some nice build up on the edge of the box, and McTominay’s shot back into a crowd was saved well by Mendy. Rashford added another effort a couple minutes later, but it was a far simpler save for Mendy.
The game looked more and more destined to finish 0-0 as it crept into the final minutes. United found their way forward, and did well to stop Chelsea from finding good looks, but they failed to create meaningful opportunities. Martial came on for the final ten minutes, replacing Mason Greenwood who looked lively in a big start up top. Greenwood had one of United’s better chances as well, possibly demanding more from Martial to deliver as a replacement.
United wasted a wonderful chance in the 90th minute. Fred sent McTominay down the right, who had Anthony Martial and Rashford free in the middle to aim at, and somehow played it behind both of them. Daniel James recovered to win the errant pass, but sent it out for a goal kick with a poor pass ahead of Shaw. Bruno Fernandes tried a late, desperate push, but his shot was parried away by Mendy. The match ended 0-0 yet again against a Big 6 team.