Manchester United’s stat line from the past month will make for grim reading. They have failed to get a win in eight league and cup matches. They are out of the Champions League and the League Cup; sit out of the European places in 6th; and are a full nine points off the lead. Yes, this was a better 0-0 draw ... but it was still another 0-0 draw for van Gaal’s men – the fifth in eight matches.
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Scoring is United's Achilles' heel
Wayne Rooney’s catastrophic drop in form is only part of the tale at Old Trafford: the truth is the team has no credible, reliable replacement. Marouane Fellaini is not a scorer; Anthony Martial is far too young to have such expecations; and why van Gaal ditched Chicharito is a major mystery. Today both teams looked poor in the final third, but for United the margins were finer. They hit the woodwork twice and were denied by some fine goalkeeping. But it is telling that Rooney’s game will be better remembered for an awful tackle on Oscar than for his attempts on goal.
Getty ImagesClive Mason
The pressure on van Gaal is becoming a major distraction
Van Gaal looks deeply troubled by United’s lack of form, and reportedly has offered his resignation to United’s board. (It will not have helped that venders were hawking Jose Mourinho scarves outside.) While United looked better today, the fact is they were up against a dreadful Chelsea side playing without a true striker. The team is saying all the right things, but how long can van Gaal, a deeply proud man, hold out against such intense criticism?
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Chelsea have their own issues as well – but are improving
The Blues badly missed the (stupidly) suspended Diego Costa, and had it not been for David de Gea still might have scored twice Monday. (Nemanja Matic’s airball was a howler.) Yet note that the Blues have now have gone unbeaten for three straight games for the first time this year. They deserve to be where they are in the table, right enough, but the signs of a mild turnaround are there.
Getty ImagesClive Mason
Both goalkeepers shone
Credit where credit is due: both Thibaut Courtois and David de Gea were the stars of the show today. De Gea made several key stops, including a fabulous block on an early John Terry header. Courtois made a brilliant point-blank save on Herrera to rob United on the hour. Both men were man of the match.