Manchester United and Chelsea fought out a largely uneventful game and drew 0-0 in the Premier League.
Early chances were scrappy and easy for the goalkeepers for the most part, with Christian Pulisic and Bruno Fernandes shooting from long range – and the closest moment to a goal came when Edouard Mendy almost passed the ball into his own net when trying to play out to a defender.
Both teams had penalty appeals turned down and Marcus Rashford spurned a one-on-one, as extremely wet conditions perhaps played a part in a game lacking in quality.
Edinson Cavani sent a flicked effort wide moments after coming on for his debut and Thiago Silva blocked another effort from the Uruguayan late on as neither team found a way through.
Here are five things we learned from the match at Old Trafford on Saturday.
Pulisic the carrier
Not too many attacking players stood out in this 90 minutes, but Christian Pulisic sparked into life on a few notable occasions.
As Chelsea’s ball-carrier he’s the man who can break the lines, launch counter-attacks and drag the team upfield with pace, as he did to such explosive effect in the latter stages of last season.
Perhaps he’s not quite at full speed yet after injury, but the end product didn’t match the dribbling speed and execution: a wayward pass, a tame shot.
But Pulisic is the best individual for creative moments at present for Chelsea, with Hakim Ziyech still being integrated and Kai Havertz not at all showing his best form in the Premier League.
Manchester United might have picked up a good result in Europe in midweek, but their home form has been rather awful of late.
Their last home win in the league, in fact, came against a team who are no longer in the Premier League – Bournemouth last season.
In three fixtures on home soil this term it’s no wins, one point, nine conceded – with RB Leipzig and Arsenal the next pair of teams to pay a visit in the coming week or so.
United might prefer to play on the counter, but Ole Gunnar Solskjaer needs to find a way to break teams down and pick up points regularly at home, too.
With Kepa continually failing to take chances when they came his way in the Chelsea first team, Edouard Mendy has quickly become Frank Lampard’s No. 1.
Here he was far from overworked, but the majority of key moments in the game did seem to involve him.
The first wasn’t a positive, as he almost passed into his own net under no pressure, a strangely wayward pass out to the side of the penalty area which was comically misdirected out for a corner, rather than an own goal.
Thereafter it was all good though: a fine parried save out from a long-range strike and a save with his feet when Rashford was through. Best of all was his 90th-minute stop, diving away to the left to parry clear a curling Rashford effort which was goalbound.
A commanding overall display, albeit against a minimal threat – just how Lampard would want it, in fact.
Win matches or don’t lose them?
Both sides seemed very reluctant at times to commit numbers forward, to run in behind the defence or play fast counters.
Lots of build-up play was structured down the flanks, but then checked back inside or looked for an ambitious cross rather than truly working overloads and dangerous openings.
The subs were attack-minded by name, from both managers, but the approach didn’t really alter at all.
United pushed Bruno Fernandes wide when Paul Pogba came on, rendering him largely ineffective for the final half-hour, while Chelsea’s big-money German duo being replaced with 20 minutes to play signalled their lack of impact in the game overall.
The defensive work from both sides was better than it has been recently, but it’s wins which earns points and top-four spots – and neither side really went for it or deserved it.
Chelsea haven’t exactly been considered models of consistency at the back this term, so it’s right they should get some acclaim when the defensive side of their game is good.
With a back three in place, Thiago Silva was excellent with constant clearances and headers and much marshalling of Kurt Zouma to his left, who was also a solid performer.
For their part, the Lindelof-Maguire partnership has been maligned at times for United, but they were equally strong at the other end and repelled everything in the air between them.
Not a classic encounter, but one both sets of defenders will relish after recent high-scoring games.
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