Chelsea missed the chance to climb back into the Premier League’s top four after grinding out a goalless draw with Manchester United at Stamford Bridge.
The Blues threw in all their attacking personnel and every novel idea from new boss Thomas Tuchel but could not force a breakthrough against Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s resolute Red Devils.
Chelsea extended their unbeaten run under new manager Tuchel to nine matches, while United stretched their record-breaking stint without a Premier League loss on the road to 20 games. Striker Tammy Abraham missed out entirely with an ankle concern, and the Blues also lost Callum Hudson-Odoi at half-time to a potential thigh injury.
In-form striker Olivier Giroud was unable to make the most of two promising first-half openings, while Hakim Ziyech, Christian Pulisic and Timo Werner all tried and failed to find the back of the net. The draw proved by far the better result for United, who were able to hold onto second spot in the league table.
Fifth-placed Chelsea were left to rue another match under Tuchel boasting dominance in both possession and territory – but one severely lacking in cutting edge.
Top four race as it stands
Liverpool won 2-0 at Sheffield United this evening to make the top four race even tighter. Here is how things currently stands in the top half of the table…
Watch Shaw’s reaction
Here is the United left-back on the penalty incident…
More from Solskjaer
Confirming he was referring to former Chelsea boss Frank Lampard in terms of historic attempts from other managers to influence referees, Solskjaer continued: “That’s just the nature of us as managers isn’t it?
“If anything goes against you, you probably want to highlight it. I trust the referees not to be influenced by it.
“But I was very surprised by this decision. Live, I didn’t think it was a penalty, so I understand why he didn’t give it straight away.
“But looking back, it’s not a very natural position to have your hand in.”
Solskjaer slams ‘cheeky’ Chelsea and referee
Pushed further on Shaw’s post-match claim on Attwell, Solskjaer added: “Exactly. I didn’t say it, I don’t want to cause controversy but it’s not right.
“It’s all these outside influences, even the VAR talk before the game on Harry. It’s cheeky when they put that on the website. That’s influencing referees.
“You can go back and look at the website. What they are saying about Harry Maguire puts pressure on the referees to give penalties against us.
“There’s loads of talk about us getting penalties when there is no doubt whatsoever, and today we should have had a penalty. That’s as clear as it is.”
A ‘pre-match briefing’ on Chelsea’s website read: “In recent Chelsea meetings the Red Devils’ centre-back has survived VAR reviews of a potential penalty foul on Cesar Azpilicueta and violent challenge on Michy Batshuayi that may well have affected the outcome.”
The article also referenced a “penalty area tangle” between Maguire and Newcastle’s Jamaal Lascelles last week.
Solskjaer furious with VAR decision
Solskjaer was in no doubt his side should have been awarded a penalty when Hudson-Odoi handled, and claimed Attwell’s alleged comment to Maguire after the incident would not show the referee in a good light.
“Yes, 100 per cent,” Solskjaer told Sky Sports when asked if United should have had a spot-kick. “I don’t understand (why it was not given), not at all, especially when he stops it and he walks across and can watch it. You can see it’s a handball but you think it’s our player that does it.
“But when you look at it on the video it’s taken two points away from us.”
Asked what Attwell had said to Maguire, Solskjaer replied: “I can’t say because it’s not going to be good for him.”
Tuchel convinced of no penalty
Of the penalty decision, Tuchel told Sky Sports: “How can this be an intervention? The player in red plays the ball with the hand and then we are checking for what, a penalty?
“Why does the referee have to see this? You see this one second on the iPad and I see it on the field live. I don’t understand why he needs to check it, but I’m glad it’s not a penalty because it would have been even worse.
“It was a high quality game between two very strong teams. We suffered in some minutes in the first half, but overall it was a very even game and I thought we were closer to win it. Performance-wise I am very satisfied.”
Shaw makes VAR penalty claim
Addressing Callum Hudson-Odoi’s potential handball, United full-back Shaw made a surpsiring claim that the referee, Stuart Attwell, told Harry Maguire that awarding a penalty was “going to cause a lot of talk after”.
Shaw told Sky Sports: “At the time I saw a handball and didn’t know if it was Mason (Greenwood) or Callum.
“I didn’t know it was a potential check and that they needed to stop it (the game) if it wasn’t going to be a pen.
“But I heard the ref say to H (Maguire) ‘if I give a pen it’s going to cause a lot of talk after’. H was told it was a pen by VAR, but I’m not going to moan.”
James Robson at Stamford Bridge
Tuchel keeps his unbeaten record, but he’s missed the chance to break into the top four and close the gap on United. It’s also another game that highlights Chelsea’s problems in attack. They really do struggle to create chances.
Full-time | Chelsea 0-0 Man Utd
The ball falls to Maguire 30 yards out and he… slams the ball well wide as the final whistle goes. That tells you all you really need to know about this game.
Fred fires in from range down the throat of Mendy – he makes an unconvincing punch, but there’s nobody on hand to tap home the rebound.