The Sunday late afternoon clash at Stamford Bridge was a game that had a lot at stake. And if fans had placed their money on one of them to win, then they would be cursing their stars by now as the clash ended in a hopeless goalless stalemate.
Prior to their clash today, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer side had beaten Tuchel’s PSG side in the champions league in March 2019 to overturn a 2 goal home defeat inflicted by PSG earlier at Old Trafford. That defeat Tuchel admitted in his pre-match conference was his worst defeat.
“I can be very honest after that match I was two days in a very dark place and I can tell you I was not able to speak to anybody and to think about anything else [other] than this defeat,” he admitted to reporters
“That was maybe the worst defeat that I experienced because it came from nowhere. In the circumstances that it arrived, I was for two days in a dark place for a coach to be at.”
Taking their recent form into consideration and Tuchel’s performance thus far in the league, one would have expected not much but maybe a single goal difference by either side after 90 minutes. Chelsea came into the game fresh from a 1 goal victory over La Liga leaders Atletico Madrid in the champions league and a 1-1 draw against Southampton in their last league outing away at St. Mary’s as well as six wins and two draws in Tuchel’s eight games as manager since Frank Lampard’s sacking in January. They let in only two goals in that time period.
United on the other hand came fresh from a goalless draw against Real Sociedad in the Europa league and their last league outing was a 3-1 win against Newcastle United at Old Trafford while drawing four of their last eight matches and four wins including the 9-0 demolition of Southampton in early February.
Chelsea possession based play which forces opponents to defend deep and rely on counter attacks has been something they have used to their advantage since Tuchel’s takeover and that was not absent against United today as Chelsea ended the match with 57% of possession.
As in the reverse fixture in October, this was not without VAR taking centre stage as Manchester United had a penalty review against them in the first half after Callum Hodson-Odoi was deemed to have handled the ball in the 25th minute before Mendy saved a Marcus Rashford free kick after a clash between McTominay and Mount outside the box handed United the free kick from a promising position.
Chances came few and by and none was able to break the other despite Chelsea bossing possession throughout the game. Chelsea’s best chances came to Olivier Giroud who snatched at a shot straight into the arms of de Gea instead of punishing him for passing from the back straight to him. Hakim Ziyech also had decent chance to score only to be denied by de Gea who was alert to make a clean save. United however had their best chance when Fred’s 67th minute drive went inches off the top corner of post.
The visitors threatened late in stoppage time but it could not result in the winner they shared the points in equaling a long held unwanted record where the teams drew consecutive league matches in a single season without a goal for the first time since the 1921-1922 season. United remain second on the table 12 points of leaders Manchester City and Chelsea also failed to push above West Ham United to place fourth as they remain one point shy of the Hammers thus staying put in fifth.
Up next, United play guest to Crystal Palace at Selhurts Park on Wednesday, 3rd March and Chelsea travel to face reigning champions Liverpool at Anfield.