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Var penalty decision takes centre stage in Chelsea vs Manchester United draw

Var penalty decision takes centre stage in Chelsea vs Manchester United draw

One month after arriving in England and declaring he would build a Chelsea team that nobody wants to play against, Thomas Tuchel is sticking to his word.

It has not been particularly pretty, and this goalless draw with Manchester United certainly was not, but Tuchel remains unbeaten as Chelsea head coach and his safety-first approach may yet be enough to secure a top-four spot.

After switching to a back three, Chelsea have conceded just two goals in nine games under Tuchel and nine goals scored during that period have been enough to claim six victories in all competitions.

But this will go down as a missed chance to really push themselves back into the top-four picture in the Premier League, with United missing Paul Pogba and Bruno Fernandes some way from his best.

The visitors argued, perhaps correctly, that they should have been awarded a first-half penalty against Callum Hudson-Odoi, but, like the hosts, they lacked invention and quality when it really mattered.

Such is Manchester City’s dominance at the top of the table that second-placed United will be far more wary of being caught by the teams behind them than seriously thinking about closing the gap on the leaders who are disappearing into the distance.

Chelsea could have put real pressure on United with a victory, but they are still seeking a statement success in the League following the impressive Champions League win against Atletico Madrid.

For all the good work Tuchel has done, it should be noted that this draw meant that six of the Premier League results under the German have now mirrored the opposite fixtures for which Frank Lampard was in charge.

It remains a concern that Chelsea are not yet beating the teams they want to challenge, with games against Liverpool and Everton to come and Tuchel’s frustration with his attacking players has been evident.

Against Southampton, it was Hudson-Odoi and Tammy Abraham who were in Tuchel’s firing line, as they were substituted, and this week it was Hakim Ziyech and substitute Timo Werner.

Hudson-Odoi was once again substituted, at half-time, but this time it was in part because of an injury and Ziyech was fortunate to last 78 minutes, following a woeful first-half performance in which Tuchel screamed his frustration.

Ziyech improved slightly after the break, but he was eventually replaced by Werner, who quickly annoyed Tuchel by failing to use his right foot when sending a tame left-footed effort straight at David de Gea.

Tuchel was also angered by some of the officiating, none more so before and after the free-kick that resulted in the one moment of real controversy in the 15th minute.

One might have expected Tuchel to be a relieved man that a check from the video assistant referee on Hudson-Odoi did not result in a penalty, but the 47-year-old instead shouted at United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer that it had been Mason Greenwood who, in his opinion, had in fact handled the ball first.

Tuchel was also furious of the initial award of the free-kick against Mason Mount, who he insisted had not touched Scott McTominay. Edouard Mendy punched Marcus Rashford’s set-piece before Hudson-Odoi cleared the ball away from Greenwood in his own penalty area.

But after Ziyech had then seen a tame shot easily saved by De Gea, play was stopped after Var had recommended that Attwell should consult the monitor to review whether or not Hudson-Odoi had handled the ball.

Replays appeared to show that the bounce did in fact bounce off Hudson-Odoi’s hand, but, with Chelsea duo Cesar Azpilicueta and Mateo Kovacic in close attendance giving their opinions, Attwell decided against awarding a spot-kick.

Tuchel had first been upset that Olivier Giroud had been penalised early on after making minimal contact with Harry Maguire. It was the Frenchman who went closest for Chelsea before the break, just failing to connect with a Hudson-Odoi cross after the wing-back had been brilliantly picked out by Antonio Rudiger. 

Two players brought back into the starting line-up by Tuchel, Ben Chilwell and N’Golo Kante, made vital interventions when United threatened. Chilwell got his head to a Rashford high pass intended for Mason Greenwood, while Kante just got his foot to the ball first when Rashford lined up a shot shortly before the interval.

Kante was excellent on his return, particularly in the first half, while Luke Shaw was United’s best player and the left-back prevented Chelsea taking the lead four minutes after the restart.

Ziyech should have scored from Mount’s pass, but Shaw reacted first to De Gea’s save to stop the Morocco international getting another chance and he then dived in front of James to block the substitute’s shot.

Shaw later turned creator, as he flashed a dangerous low cross across the front of goal. The ball ran all the way through to Aaron Wan-Bissaka at the back post and he found McTominay, who forced a smart save from Mendy.

Mendy was relieved to see a curling shot from Fred whistle just wide of his left-hand post and then gathered at the second attempt after spilling a Dan James cross.

But neither team particularly deserved a winner and a limp, rather than a sprint, towards the finishing line and potentially achieving their goals, currently looks more likely for both.



Now kicking off about something on the Chelsea website? I have no idea what he’s on about! Something about Harry Maguire and “it being cheeky”. Geoff Shreeves says “sorry Ole I don’t know what you are on about”.


Solskjaer interview

“Yes 100% we should have had a penalty.

No, I have no clue why it was not given. When they stop it, he can walk across and watch it?! You look on the video and that’s two points taken away from us.”

(Q What did the ref say to your players?)

“I cannot say, because that is not going to be good for him.  I don’t want to cause controversy.”


Some VAR controv to keep us going


Loving that Thomas Tuchel

has just called Harry Maguire “MacGyver”. He’s now my favourite Premier League manager.


Full time: Chelsea 0 Man United 0

Well, that was Chelsea 0 Man United 0. Shall we get to a match report? 

I’ll add the manager quotes in here if something exciting is said.

Fernandes, who was below his normal levels, trudges off looking like an England batsman. Some other United players are talking to the ref, I would imagine asking about the first half pen.


88 mins: Chelsea 0 Man United 0                                      

Reece James delivers a handy ball in from a freekick but sadly no teammate is really attacking that.

United break in numbers and at high speed. Sadly, McTominay cannot pick out the right ball.


87 mins: Chelsea 0 Man United 0                                     

Noticed Tuchel twice YELLING at his strikers – he was screaming at Werner to throw himself at the ball just now, on 82 mins there..


86 mins: Chelsea 0 Man United 0                                    

Werner and Pulisic both have efforts. Chelsea the side asking the questions, pressing harder for the win.


82 mins: Chelsea 0 Man United 0                                   

Chelsea’s James with an excellent, dangerous cross that Werner is all set to turn it… but brilliant from Lindeloff to clear that. Ref, erroneously, gives a goal kick.


78 mins: Chelsea 0 Man United 0                                  

Maguire clatters Pulisic. Marital on for Greenwood. Everyone is trying hard and playing well enough but this game feels strangely flat, bloodless. Not even been boring as such just somehow… anaemic. Maybe it is just me.


76 mins: Chelsea 0 Man United 0                                 

Werner coming on in favour of Ziyech.


75 mins: Chelsea 0 Man United 0                                

Mainly Chelsea right now. Kovacic and Azpi both have low threat long range efforts.


70 mins: Chelsea 0 Man United 0                               

Looks like Martial is coming on. This second half has been better than the first, which is faint praise but still.


67 mins: Chelsea 0 Man United 0                              

Christian Pulisic is in in favour of Olivier Giroud.

Fred runs at the goal and curls one not far wide. A better effort than it looked like it would be, if you see what I mean. He curled it back a long way.


65 mins: Chelsea 0 Man United 0                             

McTominay is in the game. He blocks a shot from Mount, and then up at the other end he does some sterling defensive work to block Mount’s shot.

And the McTominay show continues as he tries his luck from range and Rudiger gets in the way.


62 mins: Chelsea 0 Man United 0                            

Greenwood, lively in the last few mins, clipped by Chilwell. He’s booked.


60 mins: Chelsea 0 Man United 0                           

Luke Shaw crosses, half cleared and McTominay cracks one! Good save Mendy. 


58 mins: Chelsea 0 Man United 0                          

Rudiger with a crossfield ball, James with the cross. Fred blocks.


55 mins: Chelsea 0 Man United 0                         

Chelsea have had 80% of the ball in the first ten mins of the second half.


52 mins: Chelsea 0 Man United 0                        

Grenwood takes a defender away with a good dummy run and Dan James finds it all opening up. He hits a shot, it is deflected behind for a corner.  Comes to little.

Ziyech breaks from it and shoots. Fred with the block.


50 mins: Chelsea 0 Man United 0                       

Fred has clattered Mount from behind and is rightly yellow carded.


48 mins: Chelsea 0 Man United 0                      

Ooh, should be one-nil.  Chilwell charges down the left, crosses and Ziyech hits it crisply. De Gea with a great stop! Rebounds to Reece James and Luke Shaw hurls himself in the way.


46 mins: Chelsea 0 Man United 0                     

Half time sub: Hudson-Odoi is being taken off. Reece James is coming on. United were having quite a bit of joy down that flank.

Some sad breaking news: Glenn Roeder has died.


Roy Keane on why the pen wasn’t given

“The Chelsea players are all around the referee, which is probably not helpful.”



Half time:  Chelsea 0 Man United 0

Well, it’s been a football match, you cannot say otherwise.


45 mins: Chelsea 0 Man United 0                    

McTominay and Rudiger doing a brilliant little cuddle mixed with sneaky shoving thing. Like a family feud at a wedding. Anyway,  the half ends with United making most of the running but few chances to speak of.


43 mins: Chelsea 0 Man United 0                   

United paying well here,  dangerous moment with Rash about to pull the trigger. N’Golo K is, as ever, right on the spot and he clears for a corner. That’s dealt with.


39 mins: Chelsea 0 Man United 0                  

Marcus Rashford tries to get to an overhit ball, and trips over a microphone, and then barrels over the advertising hoardings. Spectacular stuff! He’s okay.


37 mins: Chelsea 0 Man United 0                 

Hudson-Odoi gets a chance to measure out a cross from the right. Lindeloff has lost his bearings! He’s lost Giroud. Giroud gets in between the centre halves and launches himself at the ball. Cannot do the business. He slides into the post and hurts himself, a bit.


35 mins: Chelsea 0 Man United 0                

United are on the front foot. Shaw corner. Poor corner. Kante clears.


34 mins: Chelsea 0 Man United 0               

Good insight from Gurreh Neville who says that MUFC are playing as high up the pitch as he has seen them this season (I think he must mean away from home but I didn’t catch all of it). He says that this is because they know Giroud does not have the pace to get in behind so they can push up.


32 mins: Chelsea 0 Man United 0              

De Gea with a poor, lazy clearance and it’s straight to Giroud! Oh no, he’s spanked that a mile wide. Tuchel yells at OG from the bench, telling him to think/take his time etc.


31 mins: Chelsea 0 Man United 0             

Shaw gets down the left flank, and here’s dear old Spamhead arriving like a souped-up ice cream truck. The move regrettably flounders.


30 mins: Chelsea 0 Man United 0            

Nothing wrong with the quality or commitment, both sides pressing high and eagerly. But this is low on excitement and incident.


27 mins: Chelsea 0 Man United 0           

James pins his ears back and has a good old gallop down the right.


24 mins: Chelsea 0 Man United 0          

Fred, Rashford and Fernandes with a cute triangle, and Marcus drives into the box. Ball just a bit overhit.

Not been much to tell you bar the Callum Hudson-Odoi handball/no penalty.


21 mins: Chelsea 0 Man United 0         

Ball is slipped inside to Hudson-O, who takes a touch and cracks it across the goal. Always going wide but not a bad snap effort.


18 mins: Chelsea 0 Man United 0        

Not a lot going on football-wise. That’s the function of VAR, isn’t it? Giving people another entertainment source beyond the actual ball game.


This debate

will keep us going for a bit.


14 mins: Chelsea 0 Man United 0       

United have a long range freekick. It hits the target, and Mendy punches it away. As it rebounds out, Hudson-Odoi and Greenwood race to get there. The Chelsea man looks to have handled it. 

VAR is checking this – albeit that the live action football continues for a couple of minutes. Referee Atwell is told to go over and have a look at the monitor, but he elects not to give a penalty.

Gary Neville: “There is no doubt that two or three months ago, that is a penalty. And handball laws are being changed in front of our eyes mid season. I think that is a penalty, given the unusual position of his hand. We have seen some stupid ones this season where the ball is smashed at someone from close range. But this, Hudson-Odoi sees it from a long way away and his arm is up.”


12 mins: Chelsea 0 Man United 0      

Rashford is onto a long ball and tries to flip it over Chilwell, which would have given MU a brilliant opportunity on the break but Chilwell just gets his head on it.


10 mins: Chelsea 0 Man United 0     

Giroud with a typical run near post as the cross comes in, Maguire is foxed by it and the ball pings off a United defender for a corner. That comes to nothing.


9 mins: Chelsea 0 Man United 0    

Nice bit of football down the left from Chelsea, Mount and Ziyech and Chilwell combining neatly. Mount drives into the area but MUFC have plenty back and he runs out of road.

Chelsea: Mendy, Azpilicueta, Christensen, Rudiger, Hudson-Odoi, Kante, Kovacic, Chilwell, Ziyech, Mount, Giroud. Subs: Arrizabalaga, Alonso, Jorginho, Pulisic, Werner, Zouma, James, Havertz, Emerson Palmieri.

Man Utd: de Gea, Wan Bissaka, Lindelof, Maguire, Shaw, McTominay, Fred, Greenwood, Bruno Fernandes, James, Rashford. Subs: Bailly, Martial, Diallo, Henderson, Alex Telles, Matic, Williams, van de Beek, Tuanzebe.

Referee: Stuart Attwell (Warwickshire)


6 mins: Chelsea 0 Man United 0   

That corner came to not much and United clear. Chelsea again with the ball, dominating possession but half a mile away from goal.


4 mins: Chelsea 0 Man United 0  

Ball is aimed at Giroud, important defensive header from Shaw. Chelsea have a corner.


2 mins: Chelsea 0 Man United 0 

Giroud, with a high foot, catches Harry Maguire in his substantial face. He’s ok. The United fullbacks are well advanced.


1 mins: Chelsea 0 Man United 0

Chelsea have the ball, they are playing it around at the back, and here is C Hudson-Odoi down the right.


Marcus Rashford

Five years to the day since his debut, Martin Tyler says. Right then. Let;s get to it.


David De Gea 

jumping up and down on the spot in his all flourescent yellow strip.


Roy Keane

“I never liked Chelsea. Nothing about them I liked.” 

I expect he’s a lovely chap once you get to know him.


Good to see Giroud starting

Big fan of that guy. Here’s a nice appreciation of him from Matt Law.

Olivier Giroud was no bargain bin buy – he is like a fine wine and gets better with age


Tuchel interview

He’s got a grey hoodie and a blue puffa gilet. High cheekbones, intense eyes, very big enthusiasm. I would like to go to a rave in an aircraft hanger outside Stuttgart with him.

“Ziyech deserves his chance, he had a good impact against Atletico. I felt that Havertz was a little bit tired so he gets a rest.’

“Best way to deal with Bruno Fernandes? Well, leave him out! I wish they had left him out. He’s an absolute quality player but then we have a lot of quality ourselves.


Players are out on the pitch

there’s the great Bruno Fernandes on the ball warming up. And enjoying a good gob and hawk on the hallowed Stamford Bridge turf.



Chelsea: Mendy, Azpilicueta, Christensen, Rudiger, Hudson-Odoi, Kante, Kovacic, Chilwell, Ziyech, Mount, Giroud. Subs: Arrizabalaga, Alonso, Jorginho, Pulisic, Werner, Zouma, James, Havertz, Emerson Palmieri.

Man Utd: de Gea, Wan Bissaka, Lindelof, Maguire, Shaw, McTominay, Fred, Greenwood, Bruno Fernandes, James, Rashford. Subs: Bailly, Martial, Diallo, Henderson, Alex Telles, Matic, Williams, van de Beek, Tuanzebe.

Referee: Stuart Attwell (Warwickshire)


Good afternoon

Welcome back, my friends, to the show that never ends: it’s Premier League football, it’s happening in Stamford Bridge, and it’s the match between Chelsea and Manchester United. The home side, with their manager little Tommy Tuchel, are in with a shout for fourth spot. His first game in charge was a 0-0 vs Wolves and since then they have beaten Burnley, Spurs, Sheffield United and Newcastle United in the League, and drawn with Southampton. Going nicely in the cups as well, with that win at Atletico Madrid in the first leg of the Champions League last 16 obviously a really excellent result. He’s played eight won six drawn two and whatever else, the club will presumably feel that getting rid of Frank Lampard was the correct play.

In the opposing dugout of course sits Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, a player of roughly Frank’s vintage who has looked a sack race cert on more than one occasion but has proved deceptively resilient. His United side go into this fixture 13 points behind the leaders and will have played the same number of games (26) after this match. They finished last term on 66 points, a whopping 33 points adrift of Liverpool so I guess you could say they’re narrowing the gap to the top team/teams but clearly there is a way to go yet. On the other hand, with Liverpool so depleted this season, maybe 2020-2021 was their chance…

Talking of United, I regret to inform you that Roy Keane is at it again.

“Which of this Tottenham team would get in Chelsea’s team?” demands Roy Keane of Jamie Redknapp.

Who would you take, Chelsea fans? It’s certainly an interesting debate. Obviously Kane and Son, you’d think. Anyone else? 

One chap who would surely get in any team is Erling Haaland, with the two teams featured here today among his many suitors.

The race for Erling Haaland: Man Utd, Man City and Chelsea all in the hunt for superstar striker – but what are their chances?