Man United 0 Chelsea 0: Three lessons from an Old Trafford stalemate

Man United 0 Chelsea 0: What lessons did we learn as the Red Devils and the Blues shared the spoils in a disappointing clash?

Man United
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Chelsea
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Professional Rooney gets on with the job

Much of the pre-match debate had centred on whether David Moyes would opt to start Wayne Rooney against the club that have had two bids for the England international turned down in recent weeks. He did, and the 27-year-old did not disappoint as he put in a excellent shift on Monday night. There were inevitably question marks over how Rooney would be greeted by the Old Trafford faithful following the relentless waves of uncertainty about his future that have swept the headlines since United’s title triumph back in May. But the striker was given a warm reception – indeed, from both sets of fans – as he showed no signs of a disrupted pre-season campaign. “We’ll see you next week,” chanted the Chelsea fans when Rooney was on the ball. It remains to be seen whether the former Everton forward will belong to the Special One or the Chosen One come next Monday. But the forward, who is still not fully fit, demonstrated just why both clubs are desperate to have him. Given all that’s gone on over the last couple of months, he deserves credit for a hugely professional performance.

The best and worst of Valencia

That Antonio Valencia was one of United’s standout performers at Old Trafford in the first half was perhaps reflective of a hugely disappointing opening 45 minutes. The Ecuadorian’s energetic display was one of the few positives for the home side as both teams failed to really click into gear. The winger constantly harried Eden Hazard and company on the right wing, winning back the ball and allowing the Blues almost no time and space. However, his attacking game left a lot to be desired and it was no surprise to see him hauled off by Moyes after the hour-mark. A prime example of his uninspiring forward play came in the 60th minute, when he found himself out on the right at the edge of the area. But instead of choosing to take on Ashley Cole, he opted to turn towards his own goal and move play backwards, sparking a chorus of groans in the crowd. His replacement, Ashley Young, had barely been on the pitch for 10 minutes before producing two better crosses than Valencia had managed all night.

Cagey clash but a point suits the Blues

With all the pre-match hype heading into this game for various reasons, perhaps it was inevitable that it was set to fail to live up to its billing. Both teams were seemingly more eager to avoid defeat than chase a win, which is partly understandable at such an early stage of the season. But the disappointment for fans remains nonetheless. The first 20 minutes saw neither side hold on to possession for more than a few passes and it was a theme that continued well into the game. There was also a distinct early-season feel to proceedings, with stray passes aplenty in the opening exchanges. The match improved gradually as a spectacle as it unfolded but it certainly isn’t one that will live long in the memory. Chelsea will be the more happy of the two sides to leave with a point, having taken seven from a possible nine in their opening three games. Captain John Terry described it as a “great point” after the game as he collected the man-of-the-match award. The Blues now head to Prague to take on Bayern Munich in the Uefa Super Cup on Friday as Jose Mourinho and Pep Guardiola renew rivalries.

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