If the first week of the season didn’t remind Premier League fans what they’d missed with José Mourinho, Monday’s first 45 at Old Trafford is their cold shower. Chelsea has sat back, ceded control (Manchester United’s possession: 57 percent), and shunned pressure for organization. The result was a half defined by United close calls trying to craft a final ball, the sides returning to their dressing rooms at 0-0.
Chelsea put two shots on goal — hits from Oscar that went straight to David de Gea — but for the most part the half was dictated by Michael Carrick and Tom Cleverley. For the viewers, that wasn’t necessarily a good thing, as United’s two midfielders spent most of the half playing the ball wide, hoping their teammates would break through and find Robin van Persie and Wayne Rooney closer to goal. When United’s forwards were getting the ball directly, Gary Cahill and John Terry were unrelenting, giving the Red Devils no room to bother Petr Cech (United’s only shot on goal was a weak Rooney dribbler from the edge of the box).
United manager David Moyes could see his team as one sequence away from taking the lead, while Mourinho probably imagined a game like this when he picked his team. Unfortunately, we may be in for more of this in the second half.