Manchester United remain second in the Premier League thanks to an uninspiring away draw to Chelsea at Stamford Bridge. Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side are a point clear of third-placed Leicester City now.

A game of pressing, not passing

Quality on the ball was lacking from both teams. Passes went astray and touches were heavy. Both sides pressed high. United did well, led by the energetic Greenwood and James. It was a shame when the Reds won the ball they couldn’t do much with it. The final ball was off, especially from Fernandes.

Failure against the ‘big six’

United slipped up in games against Sheffield United and Everton. That meant they had to make up for it in games against the big six after a first half of the season in which it was misery in that regard. They didn’t do at the Bridge. In truth, a draw leaves United in a decent position. Solskjaer’s side are six points ahead of Chelsea, five ahead of West Ham and one ahead of Leicester. They have to assert themselves in that second position but that will be difficult with a game against City coming up.

 

Struggles to create

Chelsea's German defender Antonio Rudiger (C) vies with Manchester United's Portuguese midfielder Bruno Fernandes (R) during the English Premier League football match between Chelsea and Manchester United at Stamford Bridge in London on February 28, 2021. (Photo by Ian KINGTON / IKIMAGES / AFP)
(Photo by IAN KINGTON/IKIMAGES/AFP via Getty Images)

Bruno Fernandes was off form and United struggled. Greenwood fashioned himself a chance with a good piece of footwork, Rashford couldn’t do the same when the ball fell to him on the left side of the box, McTominay had a shot saved. There were chances there, although the same was true for Chelsea with a missed header for Olivier Giroud and a late chance for Christian Pulisic. United have played seven games against the top six and scored only one goal: a penalty, in a 6-1 defeat. There’s some serious work to be done in that regard.

Chelsea’s cynical counter stopper

Stuart Attwell was generous to both teams as they denied each other on the counter attack, although Chelsea were guiltier than United on that front. James was cynically brought down time after time and the referee played good advantages. The problem was the speed with which the officials forgot about the previous infringements. Bruno Fernandes was keen to point it out but it never changed. Clear bookings were ignored.

Chelsea v Manchester United - Premier League
(Photo by Ian Walton – Pool/Getty Images)

VAR frustrations

There was, of course, more frustration elsewhere. Callum Hudson-Odoi’s handball felt as if it shouldn’t have been a penalty but in line with the rules, it should have been. His hand touched the ball. The action was moving away from the goal and Greenwood’s arm was near the ball as well, but that is irrelevant. United were hard done by an on-pitch referee who ignored the advice from the VAR.

For the first half of the season, United were great beneficiaries from VAR, with only a couple of exceptions. Since the turn of the year, that has no longer been the case. This is another in a developing list of incidents which include a wrongly-allowed and wrongly-disallowed goal in defeat to Sheffield United and plenty more.

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