By Andrew Embling
- Rooney restored to starting line-up after dropping to the bench against Stoke
- Darmian, Schweinsteiger and Schneiderlin all returned after injury and suspension
- United were twice denied by the woodwork in the first-half
Manchester United brought a run of three straight defeats in the Premier League to an end with a 0-0 draw with Chelsea.
United were much improved, showing far more passion and intent from the start with only the woodwork denying them on two separate occasions.
Under fire manager Louis van Gaal restored captain Wayne Rooney to the starting line up after dropping him to the bench for the defeat at Stoke, whilst the Dutchman also welcomed back Matteo Darmian, Bastian Schweinsteiger and Morgan Schneiderlin from the start.
United nearly had a dream start as Rooney teed up former Chelsea man Juan Mata, who hit a rasping drive that had Courtois beaten but cannoned back off the crossbar.
Chelsea, with no recognised striker in their squad, were the next to threaten, but Terry’s header was acrobatically saved by David De Gea.
United were playing with far more pace and movement in the early stages than they have done in their poor recent run, Schneiderlin shooting off target as United once again showed willingness to get behind the Chelsea defence down the flanks.
Courtois’s goal was leading a charmed life as Martial cut inside and struck a shot, only to see the ball strike the post as United once again came within a whisker of the lead.
Martial was giving Ivanovic plenty of headaches, the Frenchman ghosting past his marker again only to go over in the area under challenge from Zouma, but referee Martin Atkinson waved the penalty appeals away.
The Chelsea goal was coming under plenty of pressure, Rooney stretching Courtois with a strike from outside the area which the Belgian was at full stretch to turn away.
Louis Van Gaal would have been happy with what he had seen during the first half, but despite dominating the game United still needed to make it count on the scoresheet.
But it was almost Chelsea who delivered early in the second half as Hazard found Pedro, only for de Gea to fling himself to his right to deny his fellow Spaniard with a fine stop and then make the follow up save from Azpillicueta.
The Londoners looked much more dangerous in the early stages of the second half, but United were only denied the lead thanks to a brilliant save at the other end by Courtois as he somehow smothered Herrera’s close range effort.
Willian was lucky not to concede a penalty as he appeared to deliberately handle in the area under no pressure and Chelsea should have made the most of it as the Blues broke at speed only to see Matic smash his shot high over the bar with just De Gea to beat.
Mata went down in the area, but Martin Atkinson once again waved play on but they almost got the goal their endeavour deserved as substitute Borthwick-Jackson fizzed a cross to the back post but Rooney couldn’t keep his effort down.
United will be left frustrated that they failed to score despite their domination and with the manager’s future still in serious doubt the wait for a win continues at least until their next game against Swansea.
Manchester United: De Gea, Young, Smalling, Blind (Jones 81), Darmian (Borthwick-Jackson 70), Schneiderlin, Schweinsteiger, Mata (Memphis 76), Herrera, Martial, Rooney Substitutes Not Used: Romero, Carrick, Fellaini, Pereira