The judgement so far on that boy Moyes IS POSITIVE. He sends a out a tactically aware team who are well organised. The worry was would United be able to marshal and nullify the likes of Oscar, Hazard and De Bruyne between the lines of midfield and defence.
The answer was a resounding ‘yes’. When not in possession the United midfield and back four squeezed up together to deny the Chelsea trio the space to ply their trade.
Both teams played the 4-2-3-1 formation. Chelsea set up like Barcelona with a ‘false 9’ in Schurrle. While not dominating proceedings, United had the lion’s share of the possession (56% - 44%) and conducted most of their play in the attacking third. Despite this they were restricted in penetrating to the Chelsea goal. Rooney was immense and should have been the Man of the Match. His desire, commitment, passing and awareness was exemplary for a man who has played so little in pre-season.
Van Persie was effective when in possession, but was superbly marshalled by John Terry, who got the man of the match award for his efforts, including 11 clearances in that.
At the other end, Rio was cool in his dealings with the four Chelsea number “10’s” and his positioning to deny them space and runs behind United’s back four was flawless. Vidic though was an absolute Tower of Strength and assurance and never put a foot wrong all game, making a monster 13 clearances, two more than the Man of the Match John Terry.
Antonio Valencia - Warrior Monster.
A special mention goes out to Antonio Valencia, who to my mind was the Man of the Match in the first half. To Cole and Hazard on Chelsea’s left side, he must have seemed like a battering ram. Always strong and convincing in the tackle, making important interceptions and making some excellent counter breaks past Cole. This though, was where he began to disappoint in the second half. While playing immensely and dominating Cole both in the tackle and on the break with his strength and speed, his final pass and distribution in the last third was not befitting of the work that went in beforehand. Moyes obviously thought the same and brought on Ashley Young looking for that little bit of extra quality in delivering the final ball or cross.
Welbeck got the two best goal scoring opportunities and he fluffed them. I had harboured such high hopes for his finishing after his clinical start to the season against Swansea. Which, in one game he had eclipsed his goal haul of last season with two real poacher goals. Last night he looked less self assured and he suffered when in possession in front of goal.
United’s passages of play were generally more impressive than Chelsea’s, and they looked sharp and tight with quick and intelligent one-touch and movement, with Rooney generally being at the heart of all that was good about United.
David Moyes & Gareth Bale.
Moyes said afterwards that United shaded the chance and maybe looked a little short for the final decisive, defence splitting ball that Rooney only alluded to at times.
Moyes insinuated that United were lacking creatively, and that might give some indication as to where their interest in the transfer market will point this week. He was also conspicuosly coy on being quizzed about who the mystery bidders for Gareth Bale were. He avoided a yes or no answer, and instead went with a non-committal version leaving us asking “Did they? Didn’t they?”
"I said at the start that Manchester United will always be interested in the best players and we'll always be looking to try and improve the team.
"The owners have given me every opportunity to get who I want so we'll continue to look for those players. It's been tough in this window but we're always looking at the best players."
In spite of the lack of an elusive goal at Old Trafford, Moyes, to my mind gave an accurate reflection on the game "I thought we played well and I'm disappointed we didn't get a goal," he said. "Maybe we lacked a bit of cutting edge with our final pass and final cross.
"I thought Chelsea defended well when they had to. If anybody shaded the best chances, it was certainly us. We went with three centre forwards on the pitch and we wanted to try and win the game.
"We did everything we could and just lacked a ball to get Robin van Persie or Wayne Rooney the chance to score. You can play football in many ways. There's nobody who says it has to be done one way. We went out there and tried to win but just couldn't find that final pass”.