Manchester United 0 – 0 Chelsea, 28th December 2015
Another dull stalemate between two footballing giants, sprinkled with moments of excitement and world class goalkeeping.
This was arguably the first time this season that Chelsea would go into a match without being the ones under huge pressure. The Red Devils started this campaign brightly and were top of the league (for a day) as things looked bright.
A run of five games without a win has ensured United are outside the champions league zone on the table.
But Chelsea too needed a win so the world was gearing up for a thrilling encounter. Or so we thought.
United Quickest Out Of The Blocks
It was almost the perfect start for Man United as Mata, who was deployed on the right side of midfield, unleashed a venomous volley which cracked the crossbar. Two minutes later (at the other end), De Gea pulled off a world-class save to deny Terry’s header from a corner. Cracking stop!
United looked like a team with a point to prove and dominated the play early-on and in the 16th minute the crossbar came to Chelsea’s rescue again. Anthony Martial beat off Ivanovic’s challenge (which he seemed to do a million times during the match) before rifling straight at goal, with Courtois well beaten, it hit the woodwork and out for Chelsea to clear.
The Red Devils kept the pressure up and Rooney (who looked sharp the whole game) came close to scoring with a fine strike on the 29 minutes. The build up slowed down and both teams took up pedestrian roles before the whistle for the interval.
De Gea Too Good
Chelsea started the second half with two instant chances to savour and two De Gea saves to lament.
Pedro with his trademark run into the box, did well to adjust his body before unleashing a fierce shot only for the Spanish goalkeeper to deny him. His compatriot, Cesar Azpilicueta, was on hand for the rebound but De Gea showed fantastic recovery to save again.
Moments like the Man United No 1 showcased just makes you appreciate the beauty of the Premier League.
If you thought the De Gea save against Pedro was world class, wait till you see what our very own Thibaut Courtois had in store for us.
Martial produced wonderful footwork to beat Ivanovic (No. 994 ,567) and send a cross in for Ander Herrera. It should have been an easy tap-in for the Spaniard but Courtois was on hand to pull off a magnificent stop. Unbelievable stuff from the Belgian. Simply unbelievable.
In the 64th minute, Matic missed what was well and truly the best chance of the season.
For all United’s dominance, Chelsea hit the hosts on the counter; Pedro sending an inch perfect pass to the path of the Serb, and with only the keeper to beat, he fired agonisingly wide.
I really hope Hiddink finally sees its enough with Matic and give Loftus-Cheek some game time.
Chelsea averaged a low 33% possession during the match compared to United’s 67%, had 8 shots and won 62% of their aerial duals, as compared to United’s 12 and 38% respectively.
The Final Moments
The game was clearly going for the dead now and some of the old Trafford faithfuls winced in agony at the prospect of another game without a win. Rooney missed the final clear chance of the game when he fired wide from close range. 0-0.
So another draw. Another two points dropped. Its very clear to see that the Premier League spotlight is away from us for the time being. The Hiddink move may have not had the desired effect we wanted but there have been signs. So let’s wait. And hope.