Manchester United vs Chelsea, at the start, had a boring 0-0 written all over it, with one team struggling for consistency and the other petrified of losing another match. This English Premier League game at Old Trafford did end 0-0, but it was far from the boring 0-0 that was predicted, with both teams producing some sparkling attacking football.
The only thing that was missing in the end was the goals, and the scoresheet would have been troubled had it not been for a bunch of world-class saves – and they were world-class, the kind Manuel Neuer seems to make every so often – from David De Gea and Thibaut Courtois.
De Gea kept Louis Van Gaal's hopes of keeping his job as Manchester United manager alive with three saves that will be there and thereabouts in those saves of the season packages. The first came within the first five minutes of the match, when John Terry headed in a corner, thinking he had scored, only for De Gea, moving the other way, to stick a right arm out and flick the ball over the crossbar.
The other one was a double save, first to deny Pedro with a diving right hand and the second by getting up and making himself big, before palming the ball away with his left.
Courtois' save was just as good, with Ander Herrera looking destined to score the opener for Manchester United, after some brilliant work and a perfect left-wing cross from Anthony Martial, but the Chelsea goalkeeper somehow made himself big enough to deny the Spaniard from point-blank range.
Manchester United were quite unlucky not to score any goals in this match, with Juan Mata and Martial both striking the woodwork in the first half. Mata's shot from the edge of the box, off a pass from the reinstated Wayne Rooney, cannoned off the crossbar, while Martial's Thierry Henry-like run and not-as-much -Henry-like near-post shot hit the post, with Courtois seemingly beaten at the near post.
Chelsea were second best in terms of possession and chances for the most part of this game – they could have conceded two penalties as well -- even if they did look dangerous on the counter on a few occasions – the best of those coming when Nemanja Matic skied one in a one-on-one situation -- with Eden Hazard looking bright in spurts in that false 9 role.
If this result will be good enough to keep Van Gaal in the job, only time will tell, but it was certainly a performance worthy of encouragement and you just wonder why Manchester United cannot and have not played with such gay abandon more often; because if they did, Van Gaal will surely not find himself in the position he is in at the moment.
For Chelsea it is another solidifying stone laid into their shaky foundation, but they will need to start picking up wins soon.