Chelsea manager Frank Lampard was adamant his team should have been awarded a penalty for a first-half foul on Cesar Azpilicueta in Saturday’s goalless draw at Manchester United. Blues captain Azpilicueta was hauled to the ground by United skipper Harry Maguire, whose left arm was wrapped tightly around the Spaniard’s neck. The incident was reviewed by VAR, but Maguire and United escaped punishment.
“I thought it was a clear penalty,” Lampard said. “Holding is allowed, but headlocks aren’t.
“Obviously I didn’t see it at the time from where I’m standing. They are hard calls for referees on the pitch, but the VAR was very quick to dismiss it in my opinion.
“I think they should have taken time and advised the referee to watch the monitor. If the referee goes to the monitor, he gives a penalty.”
United, who remain stuck in the bottom half of the table, were at least able to avoid losing a third straight home league game at the start of the season for the first time since 1930.
In addition, they can also point to three good saves from Edouard Mendy, two to deny Marcus Rashford, including one in the final minute, and one where Bruno Fernandes was thwarted.
Chelsea’s biggest scare was Mendy passing the ball across his goal and out for a corner in the first half when trying to pass to Thiago Silva.
Neither Edinson Cavani, on his debut, nor Paul Pogba could change things in the home side’s favour after they were introduced as substitutes. Mason Greenwood was given the final eight minutes to make an impression – but did not.
After conceding three times in two of their previous three league games, Saturday’s clean sheet, after denying Sevilla in similar fashion on Wednesday, does provide Chelsea with the kind of platform they have been lacking so far this season.
The return of Thiago Silva to anchor a three-man defence provided solidity. Yet it also seemed to cost Chelsea their edge in attack.
Too often Timo Werner and Christian Pulisic were left trying to take United’s defence on alone and rarely did the visitors mount concerted pressure around the United box, even though they dominated possession for long periods.
England defender Reece James looked their most inventive attacking threat with his forceful bursts down the right flank. However, his final ball was poor and United keeper David de Gea did not have to make a meaningful save.
Sixth place may look presentable for Lampard’s men at the moment but they could slide down the league over the weekend and evidently, a large summer outlay is yet to pay dividends.