Manchester United-Chelsea Live: Clash of Premier League Title Favorite Ends in Scoreless Draw

Branislav Ivanovic, Cesar Azpilicueta and Patrice Evra copyFinal, 0-0: And that’s, well, it from Old Trafford.

United and Chelsea play to a scoreless draw in a game whose build-up was more thrilling than the 90 minutes on the field.

Chelsea will be pleased to take a draw from this game and complete a week that saw it take seven out of a possible nine points. Fans would have liked to see a better performance from the Blues, but the on-field product will improve over the course of the season. In the meantime, Chelsea must earn results, and it did that in this game.

United will be disappointed — not so much by the outcome, but by the fact that it only troubled Cech or Chelsea on a few occasions. Rooney had a positive effect, but the United and England star was no difference maker against his prospective future employers.

Plaudits go to de Gea, Cech, Terry, Cole and Vidic, who were nothing short of defensive titans throughout the game.

That’s all for now and thanks for joining us. Let’s discuss this one on Twitter @NESNsoccer and Facebook. Be sure to keep an eye out for some news, fan reactions, analysis and opinion that is on the way on NESN.com.

94th minute, 0-0: Rooney drives United forward in a last-ditch effort to score a winner, but he can’t find enough space to shoot. His lay-off helped create a corner kick which could be the final action of the game.

87th minute, 0-0: Schurrle departs, giving way to Obi Mikel.

Chelsa midfielder Obi Mikel will join Lampard and Ramires to help patrol the center for Chelsea.

Obi Mikel’s first action sees him heroically block van Persie’s volley, which probably would have found the back of the net had the Nigerian not intervened.

83rd minute, 0-0: Evra is down after Vidic elbows him in the neck. The United fullback jumped for a header (as Vidic and Torres did the same) and got the worst of the collision.

78th minute, 0-0: Rooney’s shot from around 30 yards out draws a diving save from Cech. It was United’s best chance of the game.

Giggs has now come onto the field, taking Welbeck’s place.

72nd minute, 0-0: Cole dribbled past Jones and drew some contact as he broke into the United area, but he fell down and lost control of the ball.

Chelsea partisans wanted a penalty kick, but the referee declined their requests, possibly because he was stunned to see the Chelsea fullback in that position in the first place.

66th minute, 0-0: Young is coming on for Valencia in a like-for-like substitution.

62nd minute, 0-0: Cleverly’s shot hit Lampard’s arm in the Chelsea penalty area, but the referee says “no penalty.”

Tom Cleverly and Frank Lampard

60th minute, 0-0: Chelsea takes off de Bruyne, replacing him with Torres. 

The Spanish striker could make his team more dangerous on the counter-attack with his speed, finishing ability and ironic good fortune.

He must perform well in order to displace Cahill, whose long-range shot drew a diving save from by de Gea.

58th minute, 0-0: Meanwhile, United fans continue to back Rooney.

Manchester United fans support Rooney

56th minute, 0-0: Welbeck has had two opportunities to test Cech, but both shots — the first a curling effort and the other a chip — miss the target by some distance.

48th minute , 0-0: Which manager must change this game, morally speaking? Is it Moyes or Mourinho?

Both want to win the game, but it could be that neither thinks he can afford to lose to a rival at this early stage in their tenures.

Halftime, 0-0: Other outlets will use words like “tactical” and “cagey” to describe the first half. Those words are too flattering to United and Chelsea, based on their performance during the first 45 minutes.

Neither team took many risks, so neither team has much to show (or build on). Chelsea’s approach and United’s lack of sharpness has contributed to a dull opening segment.

United too often tried to attack through the middle, only to find Terry, Cahill and company up to the task of turning attacks away. The home team must use its width in the second half to open space in the Chelsea third of the field. It may have to sacrifice Rooney in order to do that.

Chelsea’s first-half efforts on goal came from Oscar, who tried a couple of opportunistic shots from distance. There’s little else to say about the Blues’ first half.

The game will speed up and open up in the second half. It has to.

44th minute, 0-0: Chelsea finds its first breakthrough — courtesy of a counter-attack. Oscar takes a quick shot from outside the area that de Gea handles with ease. It was Chelsea’s second dangerous moment of the first half.

38th minute, 0-0: Jones lands awkwardly aafter falling over cole while contesting an aerial ball. He was down for a few moments, but got back to his feet. It looks like he’ll continue.

32nd minute, 0-0: The first yellow card of the game goes to … de Bruyne? He was a little late in tackling van Persie near the sideline, and the United star elbowed him in the mouth (causing a bloody lip).

Yet it was de Bruyne who was strangely cautioned by the referee.

30th minute, 0-0: Valencia cuts down Oscar with a sliding ankle that catches the Brazilian’s ankle. The referee opts not to book the United winger. No one would have faulted him for showing Valencia a yellow card.

25th minute, 0-0: As Rooney heads over to take his first corner kick, he is greeted by more warm applause from the United fans in the area.

They were less than kind to Rooney’s suitor-in-chief, Mourinho. He was the subject of a chant whose lyrics we cannot share.

22nd minute, 0-0: The game has yet to meet the expectations set by the considerable build-up, but the two managers, Moyes and Mourinho, had a quick exchange before kickoff.

Jose Mourinho and David Moyes

18th minute, 0-0: It’s been a cagey opening to this one, which doesn’t come as much surprise.

Both teams have new managers, and the players — most of whom were at their clubs last season — are still adapting to the demands of their new managers. Flowing passing moves are a rarity, but both teams are displaying an impressive level of tactical intelligence, effectively cancelling each other out.

15th minute, 0-0: Cole takes van Persie down in the center circle with a sliding tackle from behind. The Chelsea fullback escaped a caution. Van Persie escaped injury. We’re wondering how both managed to escape their respective fates.

10th minute, 0-0: While United enjoys the majority of possession, its has failed to create any chances. Chelsea is doing a good job of staying compact and keeping players behind the ball.

We’re still waiting for this game to come to life.

Fifth minute, 0-0: There’s little action in the opening minutes, but Chelsea looks sloppy in possession and its passing lacks sharpness when it reaches United’s half.

Pregame: Rooney is back in United’s starting 11, and the Old Trafford crowd reportedly gave a loud cheer when his name was read over the loudspeaker. He replaces Giggs in the United lineup.

The Chelsea lineup is changed from the midweek win over Villa, as Mourinho has opted to rotate his attackers and face United without a recognized striker in his starting 11.

Schurrle (striker) and de Bruyne (winger) are surprise starters in this game, as there is no place for Chelsea’s two-time reigning player of the year, Juan Mata.

2:30 p.m: Here are the starting lineups:

Manchester United FC

David de Gea (1), goalkeeper
Phil Jones (4), right back
Nemanja Vidic (15), center back
Rio Ferdinand (5), center back
Patrice Evra (3), left back
Michael Carrick (16), midfielder
Tom Cleverly (23), midfielder
Antonio Valencia (25), midfielder
Danny Welbeck (19), forward
Wayne Rooney (10), forward
Robin van Persie (20), striker

Substitutes

Anders Lindegaard (13), goalkeeper
Alexander Buttner (28), defender
Chris Smalling (12), defender
Ryan Giggs (11), midfielder
Anderson (8), midfielder
Ashley Young (18), midfielder
Shinji Kagawa (26), forward

Chelsea FC

Petr Cech (1), goalkeeper
Branislav Ivanovic (2), right back
Gary Cahill (24), center back
John Terry (26), center back
Ashley Cole (3), left back
Ramires (7), midfielder
Frank Lampard (8), midfielder
Kevin de Bruyne (15), midfielder
Oscar (11), midfielder
Eden Hazard (17), midfielder
Andre Schurrle (14), forword

Substitutes

Mark Schwarzer (23), goalkeeper
Cesar Azpilicueta (28), defender
Michael Essien (5), midfielder
John Obi Mikel (12), midfielder
Juan Mata (10), forward
Romelu Lukaku (18), striker
Fernando Torres (9), striker

9 a.m. ET: David Moyes has done a lot since Sir Alex Ferguson passed him the torch in May.

Moyes installed a new coaching staff at Manchester United, took his team on a world tour, alienated and placated stars and fought for new signings. He also won his first trophy  — the FA Community Shield.

However, the new United manager has yet to lead his team at Old Trafford in competitive action. That changes on Monday.

Moyes’ United faces Chelsea (and its new manager Jose Mourinho) in a game which pits two Premier League title favorites against each other so early in the season. Both teams look to prevail and sending a loud and clear statement of intent to the rest of the league and beyond.

United hopes to build on last weekend’s encouraging performance at Swansea, which saw it storm to a 4-1 win. Moyes will have most of his preferred starters at his disposal, including the outstanding Robin van Persie. The first 11 may or may not include Wayne Rooney. The unsettled forward hopes to leave United before the close of the summer transfer window, and Chelsea is his preferred destination, according to various reports. Rooney has battled hamstring, shoulder and achilles injuries since preseason started, but those problems pale in comparisons to the ones he has with United’s towering figure of the last three decades: Ferguson. But it is Moyes who must decide how to use the England and United star in such an important game.

Meanwhile, Chelsea built on Mourinho’s picture-perfect return to Stamford Bridge with a midweek win over Aston Villa. The sharpness and energy levels of Chelsea’s players will be a key factor in both the Blues’ performance and the outcome of the game. Mourinho could rotate his lineup to some degree or stick with the group which captured six points in four days last week. It remains to be seen whether David Luiz will be fit to play, as a hamstring ailment has kept him out of action recently.

Like much of the free world, we’ll be watching intently when United and Chelsea meet. We’ll use this space to bring you all the action as it happens live. Join us right here at 2:30 p.m. for our United – Chelsea live blog.

Have a question for Marcus Kwesi O’Mard? Send it to him via Twitter at @NESNsoccer or @mkomard, his Facebook page or NESN Soccer’s Facebook page or send it here. He will pick a few questions to answer every week for his mailbag.

Photo via Facebook/Chelsea Football Club

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