An under pressure Louis Van Gaal saw his Manchester United side draw 0-0 with Chelsea at Old Trafford, although with a more positive performance than there has been in recent games. United started positively and in the fourth minute, a left-footed effort from outside the penalty area by Juan Mata thundered against the crossbar. Chelsea soon had a chance of their own as John Terry was unmarked at a corner, but his header was well saved by David De Gea, who pushed the ball over the crossbar. This was Chelsea’s only real effort of the half, with United taking control and getting the ball wide. Anthony Martial had particular success against Branislav Ivanovic and within the opening quarter of an hour had hit the near post after cutting in.
The second half saw United continuing to control the game, but Chelsea probably had the better chances. Chelsea were denied through a fantastic double save from De Gea, keeping out efforts from Pedro and Cesar Azpilicueta. However, Chelsea’s best chance fell to Nemanja Matic on a counter attack; Matic was one-on-one with De Gea, but blazed the ball wildly over the crossbar from around 18 yards out. In contrast, Thibaut Courtois produced the save of the match to somehow deny Ander Herrera from 6 yards out, whilst Wayne Rooney put a volley at a difficult height over the crossbar.
There is lots of work for both teams to do. Chelsea looked well organised, but too often played a long ball out from the back, which was ineffective without a recognised striker on the pitch, especially one with the physical presence of Diego Costa. United were able to move the ball around well (Chelsea rarely put pressure on the ball except within 30 yards of their goal), but struggled to create few real chances despite the possession they had. An improved performance will have taken a small amount of pressure off Van Gaal, but another goalless draw will certainly not help. Guus Hiddink has to find a way of getting the Chelsea players to perform better and to their potential as they will require more than being well organised to seriously challenge for either the FA Cup or the Champions League, which is surely where the focus of their season will be once ensuring relegation will not happen.