Man United 0-0 Chelsea: Hope for Van Gaal? Improved Red Devils held in entertaining stalemate

first_img Manchester United manager Louis van Gaal 1 Manchester United may have handed under-pressure manager Louis van Gaal a stay of execution as a much improved Red Devils side outplayed Chelsea, although they were unable to end their winless run in another frustrating goalless draw.Having suffered perhaps their lowest point in Van Gaal’s reign with a Boxing Day defeat to Stoke, reports leading into today’s Bank Holiday Monday clash suggested the Dutchman would be sacked if they lost against the below-par Blues at Old Trafford.But The Red Devils bounced back to put in one of their most spirited performances of the season which saw the hosts twice denied by the woodwork from Juan Mata and Anthony Martial, while both goalkeepers pulled off some fine saves in an entertaining encounter.The primary cause of fan unrest under Van Gaal’s regime has been the lack of attacking football, but they were not left wanting this time around in an electric opening period at the Theatre of Dreams.An invigorated United moved the ball well and enjoyed a lot of freedom down the flanks in the early stages which allowed Juan Mata the first sight of goal against his former club.Latching onto Wayne Rooney’s clever dink, the Spaniard’s arrowed effort beat the leaping Thibaut Courtois but thumped against the crossbar.Chelsea – who started without a regonsied striker – were disjointed in midfield but, powered by the likes of Eden Hazard, Willian and Pedro, proved a real threat on the break, and Ashley Young was in the right place to clear as Chelsea soon hit back on the counter, with David De Gea pulling off a brilliant one-handed save to deny John Terry’s header from the resulting corner.United, meanwhile, were more composed with the ball and a neat sequence of passing on the left saw Anthony Martial run into space and deftly cut in on his favoured right foot, only to see his fizzing low shot also clatter the woodwork. After a lively opening 20 minutes, the game soon transformed into a scrappy battle, with both sides suffering from a lack of creativity in the fina third as the majority of attacks broke down around the box before a chance could be conjured.The forward breaks which did result in a goal attempt either produced a fine save from in-form goalkeepers De Gea and Courtois or saw a good chance escape through wasteful finishing.Chelsea came quickly out of the blocks in the second-half and De Gea was soon forced into a fine double save, first denying Pedro from range with a stretched palm before blocking Cesar Azpilicueta’s quick follow-up.Courtois then did the seemingly impossible at the anther end to deny Ander Herrera what looked a certain goal; the Belgian scrambling back to block on the line as the Spaniard slid in to prod a teasing cross goalward.Chelsea midfielder Nemanja Matic was then guilty of a howler as he fired wildly over the bar under no pressure after bursting free from another swift Blues counter-attack.But it is captain Rooney who will be kicking himself the most as he missed a gilt-edged chance for the winner late on. The England striker was perfectly placed to nod in 18-year-old substitute Cameron Borthwick-Jackson’s whipped cross at the back post, but instead decided to go for the volley and fired inexplicably over from close-range.There was little doubt United’s performance deserved all three points against a poor Chelsea side, but despite their improvement there is an undeniable air that their efforts may just be delaying the inevitable for an out-of-luck Van Gaal.last_img read more