A lot of sides come to Old Trafford and park the bus, but not many do it successfully. So when Chelsea announced a starting XI without a recognsied striker and set up camp in their own half, it was obviously going to be a big ask to penetrate a defence full of international stars.
In Moyes’ first home game, the pressure was high. A combination of fans expectation mixed with the visit of a former title contender in Chelsea had this billed to be a magnificent occasion, rather than the forgettable, dire bore draw.
Opting for Valencia, Welbeck and Rooney behind Van Persie, it was clear Moyes’ initial intention was to go for the victory; why wouldn’t he? After all, Manchester United are the current champions and were at home. The initiative was there.
The best chance of the game fell to Danny Welbeck. Having scored twice on the opening day against Swansea, many would have hoped his form would have continued into this fixture, but it was not to be as he lofted his effort high and wide from twelve yards.
Away from the Welbeck shot, the only other opportunities were long range efforts with both De Gea and Cech rarely troubled. Perhaps United should have had a penalty when Lampard handled in the area, but rarely do those decisions go against Chelsea.
The usually deadly Van Persie was kept under wraps by an impressive Chelsea back four who had the protection of Lampard and Ramires operating no more than ten yards in front of them at all times.
On a whole, Chelsea showed little ambition in this game, which at times meant United had the lion share of the possession – however a break through never materialised.
Throwing caution to the wind was an option – and perhaps United sides of old may well have done so; but with both Carrick and Cleverley asked to play very disciplined role in keeping the ball and not offering any space to the creative players in the Chelsea midfield – it became more clear as the game went on that this fixture was a must not lose, rather than a must win – for both teams.
At the back, Ferdinand and Vidic did what they had to do without being stretched, and both Jones and Evra offered a different dimension going forward.
Despite all the media hype about Wayne Rooney, his performance was average at best. He gave the ball away, failed to find Van Persie on a number of occasions, and rarely threatened Petr Cech in the Chelsea goal.
Many shouts that ‘Rooney is back‘, and ‘his heart is in it‘, and he was’ man of the match‘ because he tracked back and made one good tackle are simply laughable.
Yes, what I look for in a creative forward is ‘tracking back‘…. Did I also tell you in a potential wife I look for a woman with a ‘strong opinion‘, and whilst shopping for a car I always look for the vehicle with the best ‘glove box‘.
For me, this dull affair failed to live up to the hype and expectation surrounding it – simply because Chelsea set out for the draw and a very cautious United were worried about any couter attack threat.
A positive I did take from the game was the full 90 minutes and a Man of the Match performance from Tom Cleverley.
A player many fans still have doubts about; Cleverley used the ball well and remained calm under a lot of pressure. With players such as Lampard, Ramires and Hazard on the opposition midfield – Cleverley could have easily been overrun, but he controlled the tempo of play and won his battles. He, alongside Carrick, kept the Cheslea threat at a minimum.
Perhaps his calling is in the holding role after all….
I assume all the Rooney fan-boys will want my head?
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