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

fans.

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

well, though.

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

chance.

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

Bridge.

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

pass.

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

Persie.

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

kickoff.