Jose Mourinho sent out an odd lineup for this one, although the back seven players were exactly the same as we've seen in each of the first two matches. The attacking four of Kevin De Bruyne, Oscar, Eden Hazard, and Andre Schurrle was a bold choice by the Portuguese manager, and not one that many saw coming.
That lineup didn't produce any noticeable quality in the first half of play, althought the reigning champions didn't do much to trouble the Chelsea net either. The best chance of the opening 45 minutes was probably a shot from Oscar following a dreadful attempt by Rio Ferdinand to clear the ball, but the shot was straight at David De Gea.
The opening minutes of the second half brought much the same as the first, and Jose Mourinho decided the solution was to bring on Fernando Torres. Kevin De Bruyne was the one to make way, probably a solid decision given the booking he received for blocking Van Persie's elbow with his face.
Chelsea immediately began to look better, although chances remained hard to come by for either club. John Obi Mikel came in late as Chelsea looked to hold on for the point, and played out the final few minutes in much the same fashion as the previous half hour. The game ended without a score, and Chelsea sit atop the Premier League with seven points on the season.
Here are a few thoughts in the immediate aftermath of this one:
- I didn't see this lineup coming at all. At some point I sort of expected a lineup with Andre Schurrle as the lone striker, but not against United away and not without Juan Mata.
- Martin Atkinson did a pretty terrible job tonight, it looked like he was willing to to do anything in his power to avoid pulling out cards. Ashley Cole was very lucky not to go into the book in the game's opening minutes, and Antonio Valencia should have been sent off at the half hour mark for a studs high tackle that could have seriously injured Oscar. All in all, it was an abysmal performance from the referee.
- 'The Chosen One' banner that United fans had hung definitely made me laugh. Supporting the new guy is a great idea, but that seemed a little over the top.
- This was the worst game I think I've seen Eden Hazard play in a Chelsea shirt. He was slow with the decision making, had a poor first touch, and just generally looked lost on the pitch. The last 20 minutes were much better though, so at least it was something he worked through.