It was a frustrating 0-0 draw for Manchester United against Chelsea. The chance was there to get a first home win of the season and Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side wasted it. What lessons can be learned from Saturday evening’s match at Old Trafford?

Solskjaer must be braver – like in Paris

Solskjaer took the initiative in Paris. He played a five-at-the-back which allowed Alex Telles to threaten on the left. He gave Rashford the opportunity up front and he thrived.

He played McTominay and Fred in midfield ahead of Pogba to give more mobility. And when the substitutions were needed, he made them at the right time and they had great impact.

Against Chelsea, he was too timid. United looked petrified at the fact they might lose another game at Old Trafford. They’ve now not won any of their first three league games at home this season.

It was a team that seemed to lack ambition. They finally clicked into gear when Cavani and Pogba came on, but a whole first half had been wasted.

United have some big games coming up against tough opposition. They can’t be this timid against them all.

Manchester United v Chelsea - Premier League
(Photo by Matthew Peters/Manchester United via Getty Images)

These games would not happen with fans

Had Old Trafford been full with 75,000 fans, that first half would not have happened. United fans, nor those of Chelsea, would not have accepted such a dull affair.

It’s worth remembering the impact of the current circumstances and how it affects the football we watch. It’s not an excuse, but definitely a factor.

 

David De Gea: “Why is our home form so different to our away form? I don’t know. Maybe it’s the fans, we miss them a lot.”

Via Twitter

James can’t start for United ahead of Greenwood

The stats are unimportant. They could be used to show Dan James’ poor performance but it’s not necessary. Everyone watching United can see that the quality isn’t there at the moment.

Manchester United's Welsh midfielder Daniel James (R) takes on Chelsea's English defender Reece James (L) during the English Premier League football match between Manchester United and Chelsea at Old Trafford in Manchester, north west England, on October 24, 2020. Lessons learned from a tough draw. (Photo by PHIL NOBLE / POOL / AFP)
(Photo by PHIL NOBLE/POOL/AFP via Getty Images)

It’s a shame because there’s a lot of goodwill towards James from United’s matchgoing support. Once again, were fans still in grounds, James’ confidence might be higher. But for now with Mason Greenwood returning, Edinson Cavani ready to play and Anthony Martial back from suspension soon, James cannot start for United.

Rashford comes close to another match-winning goal and Cavani impresses

He’s a hero off the pitch and he was the hero on it against PSG. Were it not for a great save from Mendy in the closing stages, Rashford may well have capped off an incredible week – on and off the pitch – with another match-winning goal.

Manchester United's English striker Marcus Rashford controls the ball during the English Premier League football match between Manchester United and Chelsea at Old Trafford in Manchester, north west England, on October 24, 2020. (Photo by Oli SCARFF / POOL / AFP)
(Photo by OLI SCARFF/POOL/AFP via Getty Images)

Rashford has led the line well on three occasions in the absence of Martial. His long-term position in the side remains on the left. But Rashford has done well and this was another good performance. Those match-winning moments are what you want and need from your best players and United’s 22-year-old is providing them – or coming close to providing them – every week.

Edinson Cavani, meanwhile, made an impressive debut. His first touch came close to squeezing past Mendy and his movement was good throughout. He’ll be a good addition.

United must improve home form – are the answers on the bench?

United have won 10 consecutive away games, beating the record set by Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s team at the start of his reign. At home, things are not so good. It has to improve.

The question is; how? Edinson Cavani is now available, so too are Mason Greenwood and Anthony Martial. That will help. Axel Tuanzebe is slowly being embedded in the team too.

But Donny van de Beek could be important as well. He’s yet to start a league game but the Chelsea game seemed perfect for him at times. United needed someone who could both facilitate counter-attacks and offer an option of the edge of the penalty area. From his early performances, van de Beek seems to have that ability.

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