Jury still out on David Moyes at Manchester United

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MANCHESTER — David Moyes didn’t get off to a winning start in his first game in charge of Manchester United at Old Trafford.

And quite frankly, his team never really looked like getting it done.

Moyes has a lot of work to do to replace Sir Alex Ferguson at Old Trafford, he probably knew that already. But although he got a good reception from United’s fans when he strolled onto the pitch before the game, the 50-year-old Scotsman waved off the warm applause he received.

“I want to earn the reception I got in the future,” Moyes said. “I want the claps to be because I’ve won things and I’ve got a good team here. I want to be getting the plaudits because of what I’ve done in the future.”

(MORE: Manchester United 0-0 Chelsea; Stalemate at Old Trafford)

But throughout the game, there were no real chants of adulation towards the stoic Scot from the famous Stretford End behind the goal. True, United’s fans didn’t have much to sing about. But when they did open up their lungs to sing loud and proud into the warm late-August air, they chanted about Wayne Rooney, Cristiano Ronaldo and their beloved United.

There was no mention of Moyes.

Of course, all that will come with time but first impressions count for a lot in the soccer community. Moyes’ first audition in front of the Old Trafford crowd wasn’t a resounding success but it wasn’t a disaster. The noise from the terraces, or lack there of it, showed concerns from United’s fans that their side won’t be playing the swashbuckling soccer they’ve come to expect from 28 years of Sir Alex Ferguson at the helm.

(MORE: David Moyes tight-lipped on Gareth Bale link to Manchester United)

Moyes is his own man and his own manager, Ferguson’s shadow will hang over him until he brings repeated success. A first major trophy should get the fans on his side, but playing attractive soccer may do it faster. At Everton his sides weren’t known for being too adventurous in attack but on Monday night Moyes’ team certainly were the more offensive side, as Chelsea lined up without a recognized striker and settled for a point. Yet United never got in behind Chelsea’s defense and never really forced the issue.

United’s new manager praised his sides application and felt on another day, his team would have taken all three points.

“I think we we were going for it from the opening period. We tried to win the game,” Moyes said. “I said from the start, we just maybe lacked a real good pass through or a top cross that might have made the difference tonight. It may have been an individual moment of brilliance that win games like that, which we’ve seen in the past. We just couldn’t quite get there.”

But as silence reigned down on Old Trafford during a dour second half and chants of “Rooney, Rooney” filled the air… no chants for Moyes emanated from the 75,000 plus Mancunians packed in the stands soaring to the skies.

(MORE: Wayne Rooney dazzles for Manchester United, is this the end of the saga?)

Quietly watching over Moyes from the grand structure that has risen from the illustrious past and success of Moyes’ predecessor Ferguson, United’s fans remained silent.

Judgement hasn’t yet been passed in the Premier League’s supreme court (Old Trafford). However fans of Manchester United warmly welcomed Moyes into the family in his opening home game.

Now it’s time for him to make them scream and shout his name in adulation. Moyes knows only too well, that’s the hard bit.

Three things we learned: Chelsea v. Southampton

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LONDON — Chelsea’s beat Southampton 2-0 in the FA Cup semifinal at Wembley on Sunday, with the Blues setting up an FA Cup final clash with Manchester United on May 19.

Antonio Conte‘s side scored twice in the second half with Olivier Giroud and Alvaro Morata on the scoresheet against a sorry Saints outfit.

Here’s what we learned as Chelsea will set up a clash with Jose Mourinho.


GIROUD AN ELEGANT ASSASSIN

Olivier Giroud is quickly becoming a cult hero at Chelsea. The Frenchman dribbled delicately around three Southampton defenders and goalkeeper Alex McCarthy before prodding home to put his side ahead.

It was a elegant, yet clumsy, goal and summed up Giroud’s penchant for delivering goals of the highest difficulty.

Giroud has now been involved in 22 goals in 26 FA Cup appearances (15 goals, 7 assists) and the Frenchman is proving to be Chelsea’s first-choice central striker ahead of Alvaro Morata, although the Spaniard did grab a goal late on to wrap up the win.

Giroud has scored four goals in 13 appearances in all competitions since arriving from Arsenal in January but the way he holds the ball up and links with Eden Hazard is a huge plus for Conte. Giroud could also start up top with Morata if Chelsea tweak their system and at the age of 31 there is still plenty of life left in him and not just as a late sub.


COULD CONTE STAY…

Antonio Conte will likely still leave Chelsea at the end of the season but the Italian coach seems to badly want his time at Chelsea to end with a trophy.

But here’s a thought: if Chelsea beat Man United and somehow make it into the top four at Tottenham’s expense, will he remain in charge for the final year of his three-year contract?

The Blues cruised into the FA Cup final and looked fired up from the start as Eden Hazard pulled the strings and Giroud made a nuisance of himself.

Conte’s comments all season long suggest he will depart Chelsea this summer and seek a new project, but if he does so after winning the FA Cup to go along with the PL title he won last season and then finishing fifth, that’s not a bad two years in the PL and the Italian will depart with his pride and reputation intact.


SOUTHAMPTON’S STRUGGLES

Saints are in the Premier League’s relegation zone for a reason and their total lack of confidence was clear for all to see at Wembley.

Mark Hughes‘ men have five games left to save themselves but it almost seems as if Saints’ players have resigned themselves to relegation from the Premier League. One win in their last 21 PL games (that came against West Brom) tells the story of a side crumbling before our eyes.

After they shipped 12 goals in four Premier League, all of them defeats, Hughes has set Saints up in a 5-3-1-1 formation to try and make them tougher to break down.

It is working, at least defensively, with a 0-0 draw at Leicester on Thursday, but going forward they totally lack any cohesion and only created three real chances on Sunday as Shane Long made a hash of a great opportunity, Charlie Austin hit the post and Nathan Redmond tested Willy Caballero.

Saints are in a really bad place as they now have to find a way to stop themselves hurtling towards relegation. Their game at home against Bournemouth next weekend is a must win. Simple.

Chelsea joins Man Utd in FA Cup Final

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Chelsea will meet old pal Jose Mourinho in the FA Cup Final after beating Southampton 2-0 at Wembley Stadium on Sunday.

Olivier Giroud and Alvaro Morata scored the goals for Antonio Conte‘s men, whose date with Manchester United comes at the same venue on May 19.

Southampton will turn its attention back to the relegation battle, four points behind 17th place Swansea City.

[ MORE: Watch full PL match replays ]

Willian hit the cross bar with an early effort as Chelsea looked very much up for the semifinal.

Olivier Giroud had a 39th minute chance zip wide of the frame, as Chelsea posted nine of the first half’s 11 shot attempts while holding 60 percent possession.

Saints would have been happy to get to the locker room at nil-nil.

[ MORE: Latest Premier League standings ]

[ MORE: Full lineups, stats, box score ]

Twenty-eight seconds into the second half: That’s when Giroud scored, with Chelsea’s first long ball knocked down by Eden Hazard on the edge of the 18 and played to the Frenchman.

Giroud cut between two Saints defenders and goalkeeper Alex McCarthy to stab home with his right foot.

Hazard curled an effort of his own wide in the 48th minute.

Saints snapped to life, and Shane Long touched around Wily Caballero but too strong to equalize at Wembley.

Nathan Redmond forced a wild save out of Caballero in the 72nd minute, and nearly claimed the corner.

McCarthy tipped a Hazard shot over the bar minutes later.

Morata put it to bed on a cross from his in-tune assist man Cesar Azpilicueta.

The finish was thrilling nevertheless, with Charlie Austin hitting the far post and Saints getting a goal line clearance at the other end.

Wenger: Praise after exit announcement “more than I deserve”

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Arsene Wenger doesn’t seem like the type to go on a victory lap, but the Arsenal boss is handling his resignation and the accompanying praise with pure class.

[ RECAP: Arsenal 4-1 West Ham ]

Wenger announced the end of his long Arsenal tenure earlier this week, and has been met by heaps of praise from ex-players, fans, current Gunners, and even rivals.

The Frenchman addressed the plaudits following a 4-1 win over West Ham United at the Emirates Stadium on Sunday. From the BBC:

“I would like to thank everyone who has been very nice and kind and praised me more than I deserved it. I would like to say thank you everyone. It’s been a great period for me and I’m thankful for that.”

Arsenal punished West Ham after the Irons equalized through Marko Arnautovic, getting a lucky goal from Aaron Ramsey and two fine finishes from Alexandre Lacazette in the win.

“I was focused on winning the game. We just tried to be professional and do our job even when the circumstances are different. It was a good team spirit and good preparation for Thursday.

“I think we constructed patiently. We didn’t make big mistakes. First of all before winning a trophy, you need to get through the semi-finals. This is a good way to prepare – scoring goals against a strong West Ham team who have done well recently.”

Next up: A huge test in the UEFA Europa League semifinals, with Atletico Madrid visiting for Thursday’s first leg. Wenger rested several big names, and Atleti has just one win from its last four matches (including a Madrid Derby draw at the Bernabeu).

WATCH: Chelsea’s Giroud scores 27 seconds after halftime

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Southampton held firm against Chelsea’s challenge for 45 minutes of Sunday’s FA Cup semifinal at Wembley Stadium.

Well, 45 minutes and 27 seconds.

[ RECAP: Arsenal 4-1 West Ham ]

The first long ball of the second half saw Chelsea’s Eden Hazard leap to trap, and the Belgian played a quick ball forward to his striker.

That’s Olivier Giroud, who dribbled between two defenders and Saints goalkeeper Alex McCarthy to stab home with the outside of his right foot.