Chelsea missed a chance to regain their place in the Premier League’s top four as they largely dominated second-placed Manchester United but had to be content with a drab 0-0 draw at Stamford Bridge on Sunday.
The home side carved out the best chances but United, who had a decent first-half penalty appeal turned down, defended solidly throughout to earn a point.
Chelsea boss Thomas Tuchel remains unbeaten in nine games since taking over from sacked Frank Lampard but a second successive Premier League draw left him frustrated.
His side remain in fifth spot with 44 points from 26 games, one point behind West Ham United, while Manchester United are second with 50 points from 26 games, 12 points behind runaway leaders Manchester City.
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The main talking point revolved around a first-half VAR decision in which Chelsea’s Callum Hudson-Odoi was adjudged not to have handled the ball in his own penalty area.
After a shot was saved by Edouard Mendy the ball bounced out and Hudson-Odoi and Mason Greenwood both challenged for it with the ball taking the slightest touches off both their arms.
Referee Stuart Attwell, who did not give a penalty initially, was instructed to consult a pitchside monitor by the VAR official, but having watched it, surrounded by rival players, he upheld his decision.
Not surprisingly the rival managers had contrasting views on the decision.
“Yeah, 100% (we should have had a penalty),” United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer said. “I have no clue whatsoever why it wasn’t given, especially when they stop it and he walks across to watch it. It’s taken two points away from us.”
Tuchel begged to differ, saying that the incident should not have required a VAR monitor.
“How can this be a VAR intervention? The player in red plays the ball with the hand and then we are checking for a penalty?
“I’ve seen it on the iPad, I don’t understand why the referee has to check it but I’m glad it was no penalty. That would make it even worse.”
Chelsea began the much sharper side and Olivier Giroud was inches away from connecting with a diving header.
But clear chances were few and far between with United’s chief creator Bruno Fernandes unable to affect the action.
Hakim Ziyech forced a superb save from United keeper David De Gea while Mason Mount also threatened for the hosts while Timo Werner looked favourite to convert a Reece James ball across the area but United defender Victor Lindelof produced a last-ditch interception to deny the German.
Mendy made a meal of a few saves at the other end while Fred was closest to scoring for the visitors when he curled just wide with around 20 minutes remaining.
It was hard to make a case for either side deserving the three points, however, in a game that never came to the boil.
“The first half was scrappy. Poor game really. But then we played some good stuff at times. When we settled we created a few chances but we didn’t have enough,” Solskjaer said.