Manchester United and Chelsea have ended the calendar year with a goalless draw at Old Trafford, but today’s encounter offered plenty of entertainment in what has been an action-packed clash between two great rivals.
Goals were the only thing missing in tonight’s clash in Manchester.
Keen on ending their dreadful year on a high note, and eager to try and turn the fortunes around, both sides gave their best to record a much needed win and claim the maximum three points that would’ve been a major morale boost for the remainder of the season.
The share of spoils has seen Manchester United keep their 6th position in the standings, while Chelsea have move up one place and are now occupying the 14th place on the Premier League table with 20 points to the name.
Following a highly entertaining match at Old Trafford, here are the five things we learned today:
- World-class goalkeepers
David de Gea and Tibaut Courtois have been the most outstanding performers in tonight’s game.
The Spanish shot-stopper and his Belgian counterpart were busy for the 90 minutes at Old Trafford, but have in numerous occasions proven that they are in excellent form.
David De Gea produced a string of great saves, starting from clearing John Trerry’s header after only five minutes in the game. Additionally, his double save to deny Pedro with his long-range effort and the immediate bounce shot from Azpilicueta have perhaps been the key moments for United’s goalkeeper.
Tibaut Courtois has had somewhat uncanny help from the woodwork today.
The Belgian was helpless when Juan Mata fired the crossbar at the very opening of the game, while the post saved Chelsea in another occasion as well. Anthony Martial produced a wonderful dribble to ease past Branislav Ivanovic, but his shot met the post and deflected wide off.
Without any intention to disregard Courtois’ performance against Manchester United, the Belgium shot-stopper did produce a key save from point blank range when he did excellently to deny Ader Herrera’s golden opportunity.
- Rooney needs a break
Manchester United captain has had yet another disappointing display.
The 30-year-old forward was deployed as the sole striker against Chelsea, but he has once again failed to deliver. The England record-breaking player got into limited number of goal chances which should have been converted, but Wayne Rooney’s lack of composure and concentration in front of goal has become distressing.
Anthony Martial was once again the biggest striking threat for Louis van Gaal’s side. The young Frenchman has stolen the limelight with his agile and influential performance against Chelsea. Former Monaco star made life difficult for Chelsea defenders, running the Blues’ backline ragged throughout the proceedings.
Wayne Rooney has now completed 16 Premier League appearances this term. During that time, in 1.274 minutes he spent on the pitch, the England striker managed to score only 2 goals.
With Louis van Gaal selling Robin van Persie and Javier Hernandez in order to accommodate his captain’s wish to play upfront, it has now become quite apparent that the Dutch manager has made a serious mistake.
- Chelsea need to buy a striker
With Diego Costa out of contention, Loic Remy out of form and Radamel Falcao out of favour, one thing is certain – Chelsea need to bolster their attack in the January transfer window.
The 27-year-old Spanish striker, Chelsea first choice attacker this season served his yellow card suspension against Manchester United and his areal presence was sorely missed against the Red Devils. Diego Costa returned to form with his brace against Watford, but was forced to sit out the trip to Manchester which kept his tally to 5 goals in 15 games.
Former Atletico Madrid target man scored 24 goals in 26 appearances last season and this year has been fairly disappointing for the tempered striker.
Roman Abramovich will surely invest in new blood upfront as Radamel Falcao has already packed his bags and bought a return ticket to Monaco, while the faith of Loic Remy is yet to be determined.
- Transformed and improved Ashley Young
If there is one thing that Louis van Gaal has done right this season, than it definitely is the transformation of Ashley Young who is known as a man of divided opinions.
Often criticised for his on-pitch unsportsmanlike conduct, lack of effort and work-rate, the 30-year-old has been producing mature, all-round performances for Manchester United under Louis van Gaal.
Forced to deal with a number of injuries to his first-team regulars, the Dutch opted to use Young as a defender. Manchester United manager pulled Young back into the backline and the England winger has become a proper right-back.
His performance against Chelsea was nothing short of impressive.
Young covered the right side both defensively and in the attack, running relentlessly up and down the right touchline. The 30-year-old even produced a crucial well-timed interception at the edge of the box when he prevented Azpilicueta from getting in a goalscoring opportunity.
All in all, Ashley Young has impressed with his maturity, professionalism and determination.
- Mourinho is gone, but the problems remain
Perhaps it is still too early to pass judgements, but Jose Mourinho has not been the core of problems at Chelsea.
Chelsea were outplayed and outwitted in the centre of the pitch, with Manchester United midfield making a huge difference in tonight’s game. Guus Hiddink used the unchanged tactical approach with two holding midfielders Matic and Mikel, who were undone by their counterparts Schneiderlin and Schweinsteiger.
Chelsea’s midfield duo lacked support from their attack-oriented teamplayers, with the exception of Willian, who was for the most part of his time on the pitch involved in defensive duties.
Hiddink induced little change to the struggling Chelsea, but it has become evident that the London-based club will have to do a makeover in January, starting with their deteriorating backline.
Ivanovic and Terry were no match for Anthony Martial, Juan Mata and Ashley Young whose quick pace created a lot of problems for Chelsea defenders.
Abramovich has changed the manager, but the changes will have to continue during the transfer window.
MANCHESTER UNITED: De Gea 7.5 – Young 7.5, Smalling 6.5, Blind 6.5 (Jones 6), Darmian 6.5 (Borthwick-Jackson 6) – Schneiderlin 7, Schweinsteiger 7 – Mata 7 (Depay), Herrera 6.5, Martial 7 – Rooney 6.
Unused subs: Carrick, Fellaini, Pereira, Romero.
CHELSEA: Courtois 7.5 – Ivanovic 6.5, Zouma 6.5, Terry 6.5, Azpilicueta 7 – Mikel 6.5, Matic 7 – Willian 6.5 (Ramires 6), Oscar 6.5 (Loftus-Cheek 6), Pedro 7 – Hazard 6.5.
Unused subs: Baba, Begovic, Kenedy, Traore.
Referee: Martin Atkinson
Other results this evening:
Crystal Palace 0-0 Swansea
Everton 3-4 Stoke City
Norwich 2-0 Aston Villa
Watford 1-2 Tottenham
West Brom 1-0 Newcastle United
Arsenal 2-0 Bournemouth
West Ham 2-1 Southampton