United, Chelsea draw 0-0 in Premier League
Wayne Rooney’s headline-grabbing presence couldn’t inspire
Manchester United to victory over Chelsea on Monday as the title
rivals played out a dull 0-0 draw in the Premier League’s first
blockbuster match of the season.
David Moyes marked his first home game in charge of United with
the bold selection of Rooney against a club that has twice lodged
unsuccessful offers to sign the England striker this summer.
That selection added extra spice to a game that is always
eagerly anticipated but, despite a standout performance from Rooney
in his first start of the season, neither team created a clear-cut
chance in a disappointing stalemate at Old Trafford.
Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho opted surprisingly to start with
no recognized striker, only bringing on Fernando Torres after the
60 minutes, and was happy to leave with a point that keeps his team
unbeaten after three matches in his second spell in charge. Chelsea
is top of the early standings on seven points.
”I think for us, after two home victories, to come to the
champions in their first match at home and get a point, I think
it’s fine, it’s positive,” Mourinho said.
Continuing the traditions of his predecessor Alex Ferguson,
Moyes fielded an attacking lineup that contained three strikers –
including Rooney – but his team lacked the attacking spark that
lifted it to a season-opening 4-1 win at Swansea last weekend.
Danny Welbeck wasted the home side’s best chance, scooping over
from 10 yards out in the second half, but United found Chelsea
center backs John Terry and Gary Cahill an impenetrable barrier. It
was United’s first 0-0 league draw at Old Trafford since 2009.
”I thought if anyone created the chances, it was us,” Moyes
said. ”It was a tight game and we just didn’t have the final cross
or the final pass tonight. But I thought we played very well.”
Standing shoulder-to-shoulder with Mourinho in the technical
area and opposite an overbearing stand bearing Ferguson’s name,
Moyes was given yet more indications of the size of his daunting
task at United.
His decision to start with Rooney, however, showed he will be
his own man at United and he was treated to an impressive display
from a striker who was serenaded with chants from both sets of
While United supporters belted out ”Rooney, Rooney”
throughout, Chelsea’s traveling contingent replied with: ”We’ll
see you next week” and ”Sign him up.”
It must have been a strange evening for Rooney, who indicated to
United toward the end of last season that he wanted to leave and
has been relentlessly – and openly – pursued by Mourinho. He coped
Neat and tidy throughout in his role behind Robin van Persie, he
linked up play well, tracked back, showed a good range of passing
and had two shots saved by Chelsea goalkeeper Petr Cech. In the
final moments, Rooney attempted a bicycle kick from eight yards out
but he failed to connect.
”He’s been great in training and anybody who was watching might
have seen a slightly leaner-looking Wayne,” Moyes said. ”I
thought he worked back, he tackled, he chased … I think Wayne has
a positive mind at the moment.
”I think his performance tonight said enough.”
Robin van Persie has replaced Rooney as the leading striker at
United but he had a quiet night up against Terry and Cahill, with a
23rd-minute shot into the side-netting the Dutchman’s only real
At the other end, Oscar had two low efforts easily saved by
United goalkeeper David de Gea in the first half but Chelsea’s
counter-attacks were sporadic and ineffective.
Despite fielding a plethora of playmakers and attacking
midfielders, Mourinho – strongly linked with the United job before
Moyes replaced Alex Ferguson – tellingly chose not to start Juan
Mata, who has been linked with a move away from Stamford
The Spain international – one of the league’s top performers
last season – was on the bench with compatriot Torres, who was
introduced on the hour to finally give Chelsea an attacking outlet.
But it was United looking slightly more dangerous, Welbeck scooping
over the bar when well-placed after receiving Rooney’s disguised
Errors remained frequent, though. One five-second passage of
play summed the game up, when Torres passed straight to Patrice
Evra, who then slid the ball out of play trying to find Van
In one of the many subplots surrounding the game, John Terry and
Rio Ferdinand played against each other for the first time since
Terry allegedly racially abused Ferdinand’s brother, Anton, in a
league match in October 2011. The pair shook hands before