MANCHESTER, England – Managers Ole Gunnar Solskjaer and Frank Lampard were keen to get the positive results after Manchester United and Chelsea drew 0-0, but anyone who wants to see if either club can make the most of it – Open Premier League title race for years, in the pouring rain at Old Trafford there were few answers.
This could have been a day for United or Chelsea – third and fourth last season – to leave indifferent starts and stand out as real rivals while other big clubs stumble as well, but in the end this encounter only had as such served further evidence that they are still in the works.
United had better chances and Chelsea should probably have had a penalty but there was very little to see to scare the rest of the top division.
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After an unpredictable start to the campaign, in which champions Liverpool already conceded seven goals and Man City conceded five goals, while Everton, Aston Villa, Leeds and Crystal Palace race to the top of the table, Solskjaer and Lampard should have title ambitions.
That both of them downplay their chances says it all about where their teams are in terms of development. Ask them now if they would get in the top four in May and they would probably be happy to accept it.
"I think there are obviously two good teams and some good defenders," said Solskjaer. "All in all it was an even game, but I felt if there was a winner, it would be us."
Solskjaer also spoke for United all week, with wins at Newcastle and Paris Saint-Germain in the past seven days. It is important to continue after great results.
"The last time after we beat PSG (2019) we had big problems. We lost to Arsenal, played 12 games without a win and probably won none. We have a point on the board against a good team." ""
Steve Nicol says Edinson Cavani's experience for Manchester United will be a boost off the bench.
Lampard was similarly philosophical.
"It will clearly take time, don't worry, it didn't happen to us today," said the Chelsea boss. "We arrived in beautiful areas, but we didn't have the usual little spark. I'll take the positive. Sometimes we had control but no penetration."
It would have been embarrassing for United Vice Chairman Ed Woodward if one of Lampard's signings had made the difference at the end of a week of wiping Chelsea's summer transfer deal as an "outlier".
Luckily for Woodward, it was goalkeeper Edouard Mendy – a £ 21m contract from Rennes – who was in the spotlight after making two good saves from Marcus Rashford, one in added time and one from Juan Mata. Nevertheless, the difference in the composition of the two Start-XIs was striking.
While Lampard showed off Chelsea's £ 222million investment in the summer with five new recruits on his team and one more on the bench, Solskjaer selected a team made up entirely of players who were with United last season , including Edinson Cavani and Donny van de Beek as Paul Pogba – among the substitutes.
It's a mystery why Van de Beek can't get on the team and didn't come off the bench here, but Cavani played the last 32 minutes and would have made a dream debut if Bruno Fernandes had made a clever movie with his first touch & # 39; low cross had not flashed the wrong side of the post.
"Cavani has clever moves, he's an experienced center forward and the more we get the ball in and around the box the better," said Solskjaer. "He's been out a bit, but he's going to give us a lot. He came in, has already had a big impact on the training ground, but we know he needs playing time to achieve his edge."
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At the other end, Chelsea only managed one shot on goal and David de Gea didn't have to save meaningfully. Solskjaer was particularly fond of the goal when his side conceded six goals against Tottenham the last time they played at home. United also managed not to lose their first three home games for the first time since 1930.
At the other end, however, the home team could not score against a team that had conceded more league goals than any other team since the beginning of last season and for which this was only a second zero in 22 league games at Stamford Bridge.
"We didn't create too many chances," said Solskjaer, who urged his players to be more consistent with the game. You weren't beaten but the thing is still you don't know what you're going to get every time United competes.
The best chance for Chelsea should have been the first-half penalty, but VAR Stuart Attwell ruled Harry Maguire's wrestling maneuver against Cesar Azpilicueta was fine.
"I thought it was a straight punishment," said Lampard. "It's a tough call for the referee on the field. VAR turned it down very quickly. He should have asked the referee to look at the monitor and he would have seen the headlock."
The fact that the final whistle made both managers talk about half chances and penalties said everything about how the game had gone. In fact, it was just as damned that no one was asked about the title race, as frank as it is.