Manchester United and Arsenal played out a grim stalemate at Old Trafford that provided compelling evidence to illustrate just how far away from a Premier League challenge both clubs are.
In a disappointing encounter that was a pale shadow of their mighty clashes of years gone by, Scott McTominay gave Manchester United the lead at the end of an attritional first-half with a rising drive from the edge of the area.
Arsenal equalised just before the hour courtesy of Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang’s cool finish. It was originally ruled out for offside but the video assistant referee confirmed the striker had been played onside by Harry Maguire.
Goalkeeper Bernd Leno excelled for Arsenal with fine saves from Maguire and Marcus Rashford’s late free-kick, while Bukayo Saka’s goalbound shot crucially struck Victor Lindelof and flew over the top.
McTominay also headed a great chance well over from Ashley Young’s corner but neither side could force a winner.
The result takes Arsenal into the top four but Manchester United are now down in 10th after an outcome that means they have made their worst start after seven games in 30 years, failing to reach double figures for the first time since 1989-90, a season in which they finished 13th.
How times have changed
The current circumstances of both clubs was instantly demonstrated by the two captains who led out the sides.
Manchester United’s captain was 34-year-old Ashley Young, pressed into defensive service by Aaron Wan-Bissaka’s absence through injury, and Arsenal were led by Granit Xhaka, newly appointed and a divisive figure among supporters.
Young led from the front in a fashion by regularly contesting decisions, showing a remarkable knack of getting to referee Kevin Friend in an instant on numerous occasions.
Xhaka’s night will be best remembered for his contribution to United’s goal – getting away with a foul in the build-up before appearing to take evasive action as McTominay’s drive made its way into the top corner.
There was no shortage of effort but this was a scrappy mess of a game, lacking any cohesion or quality.
United will feel they had the edge on chances, although they were grateful to David de Gea for a fine double save from Saka and Matteo Guendouzi in the first half.
Arsenal boss Unai Emery will be more satisfied than counterpart Ole Gunnar Solskjaer with a point but this showed just how far away both are from leaders Liverpool and reigning champions Manchester City – and just how much work they have to do to catch up.
Tough night for Pepe
It was no surprise when Arsenal’s club record £72m signing Nicholas Pepe failed to last the course, being substituted for Reiss Nelson after 72 minutes.
The 24-year-old signing from Lille had struggled desperately throughout and looks worryingly short of confidence so soon after his introduction into the Premier League.
Pepe had one clear shooting opportunity in the first half but skied his effort hopelessly into the Stretford End. He was on the periphery of the action in a laboured performance also littered with poor decision-making.
It was left to the lethal Aubameyang to provide the finishing touch for Arsenal, correctly assisted by VAR after technology showed he was clearly onside.
Solksjaer appeared to think the linesman’s raised flag made his players stop but it was clearly the correct decision as Maguire loitered yards behind his defensive colleagues.
‘It is a steep learning curve’
Manchester United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer: “How many times have we have been 1-0 up and not got the second goal? This is a steep learning curve for us and we’ll keep working hard and, with more experience, we’ll make the right decisions.
“We didn’t get out of the blocks quick enough at the start of the second half. It felt like Arsenal were the more proactive until they scored their goal.
“I felt we could get a goal at the end and we sent men forward. I’ve been in that situation as a player when you come off and think you could’ve got more out of a game, but we’ll learn from this.”
Arsenal manager Unai Emery: “I want more – more in the result and in the performance but we are progressing. We were competitive but we can do better. We can control moments with the ball better and take more chances in the box.
“We have young players who can take confidence. Bukayo [Saka] is progressing well but we need other players too. This is not the best in terms of points but one point can be good if we win next Sunday against Bournemouth.”
Man of the match – Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang (Arsenal)
The best of the stats
- Manchester United’s haul of nine points after seven games is their worst tally at this stage of a top-flight season since 1989-90 (7 points).
- Arsenal are unbeaten in consecutive Premier League games at Old Trafford (D2) for the first time since January 2000.
- Arsenal (5) had more shots on target than Man Utd (4) in a Premier League game at Old Trafford for the first time since May 2009 (4-0).
- Manchester United have won 49 points from their 28 Premier League games under Ole Gunnar Solskjaer – two fewer than they won in their final 28 games under Jose Mourinho.
- McTominay’s goal was his first for Manchester United at Old Trafford, in his 25th home game for the club in all competitions.
- Since his Manchester United debut in February 2016, Rashford has been directly involved in 71 goals for the Red Devils in all competitions (48 goals, 23 assists), eight more than any other player.
- Saka has registered four goal involvements in just three starts for Arsenal in all competitions this season (1 goal, 3 assists).
Frank Lampard said managing Chelsea at Stamford Bridge for the first time was the “stuff of dreams”, despite Wilfred Ndidi’s second-half header earning Leicester City a deserved point.
Chelsea took the lead when 20-year-old midfielder Mason Mount scored a memorable first goal for the Blues after robbing Ndidi of possession just outside the Foxes penalty area before beating Kasper Schmeichel with a low drive.
Lampard’s side started with real intent, Spain forward Pedro volleying into the side-netting and France midfielder N’Golo Kante denied a goal against his former club by Christian Fuchs’ fine challenge either side of Mount’s goal.
Leicester were much better after half-time and secured the point their second-half dominance warranted when Ndidi got between Spain right-back Cesar Azpilicueta and France defender Kurt Zouma to head in from a corner.
Both teams remain without a win, with Leicester on two points from two games, one more than Chelsea.
“It felt great, it is a special moment for me to come back to the club and manage them at Stamford Bridge,” said Lampard, who was appointed Blues boss in the summer.
“For me it is a huge thing, but my focus today was on the match and trying to win.
“Thanks very much to the fans, I appreciate that, but I am here to do a job and here to try and win for the club and we can do better than we did today.”
Blues fade again on Lampard’s homecoming
Despite opening the season with their biggest Old Trafford defeat against Manchester United since 1965, there was a carnival atmosphere inside Stamford Bridge to welcome a Chelsea icon returning to manage the club he spent 13 years playing for.
Lampard’s image adorned the front cover of the programme, while the 41-year-old was greeted by the sight of a huge blue-and-white ‘Welcome Home Super Frank’ banner when he emerged from the tunnel before kick-off.
Flames from black boxes leapt into the sky as Stamford Bridge reverberated to the sound of Chelsea fans singing ‘Super Frank Lampard’.
There were placards and scarves too and it was not long before the veteran of 648 Chelsea appearances was punching the air in celebration after Mount punished Ndidi’s hesitancy after the Nigeria midfielder received the ball from Jonny Evans.
Despite the heavy 4-0 defeat, Chelsea had started the game well at Old Trafford last week, hitting the woodwork twice before falling away badly.
Chelsea faded in this game too, especially in comparison to the aggressive start they made in the upbeat atmosphere created by Lampard’s return – although their midweek Super Cup exertions in Turkey may have been a factor.
While Leicester failed to muster a shot on target in the first-half, Chelsea managed three in the opening seven minutes including Mount’s goal, a superb low finish that left Schmeichel flat-footed.
Fuchs’ challenge to deny his former team-mate Kante was pivotal, while Mount headed another opportunity at Schmeichel before Leicester responded strongly to take the shine off Lampard’s return.
Maddison inspires Leicester
Leicester are without a Premier League win in four games in a run that stretches back to last season, but their impressive second-half showing will leave Brendan Rodgers with optimism for the season ahead.
As poor as the Foxes were in the first half, they dominated after the interval and there will be a touch of disappointment they did not go on to seal victory.
Having managed just one shot in the opening 45 minutes, Leicester had 11 attempts in the second half of the match.
There are now few survivors from their legendary 2015-16 title-winning side, but in James Maddison, Rodgers has a player around whom he can build another impressive Foxes team.
The 22-year-old was the stand-out player in the game, not just content to distribute the ball intelligently but also threaten in the Chelsea box himself.
Maddison, who was called into the England squad last season, rounded Chelsea keeper Kepa Arrizabalaga but from the byline could not pick out a team-mate to apply the finish.
However he then delivered the corner that Ndidi headed home for the equaliser as Chelsea were caught cold.
The former Norwich player blazed a late chance to win the game over the bar but, while the game seemed to pass title-winning hero Jamie Vardy by, Maddison’s energy and creativity bodes well for Leicester’s future.
Man of the match – James Maddison (Leicester)
‘We need to be more clinical’ – what they said
Chelsea manager Frank Lampard, speaking to BBC Sport: “It’s very early for us. We have to be patient as we are working towards something.
“Two or three nil would have taken the game away from them but we didn’t take those chances. That’s the story of our season so far. We need to be more clinical, for sure. It is defining.”
On the reception he received from Chelsea’s fans: “This is home for me and I really appreciated the support. It’s my club, I played here so long and I’m slightly disappointed we didn’t get the win but I’m thankful to the fans.”
Leicester City boss Brendan Rodgers, speaking to BBC Sport: “It is my fault, the mistake [that led to Chelsea’s goal], because I ask my players to build in the game. But it was a brilliant response.
“We were outstanding in the second-half but didn’t win the game. We came out with a positive mindset and had chances to put it to bed. The most important thing is getting the players into those positions.”
Mount makes Chelsea history – the stats
- Mason Mount became the first English player to score on his first home appearance for Chelsea in the Premier League since Paul Hughes did so against Derby County in January 1997.
- Mount became the first English player to score for Chelsea under an English manager since Dennis Wise against Blackburn Rovers in May 1996 (Glenn Hoddle as manager).
- Frank Lampard is the first Chelsea boss to fail to win any of his first three games in charge of the club since Rafael Benitez in the 2012-13 campaign.
- Leicester manager Brendan Rodgers has faced Chelsea on 13 occasions as a manager but is yet to register a victory against the Blues.
- Leicester midfielder Wilfred Ndidi’s goal was just his fifth in 90 Premier League appearances, and his first away from home.
- After winning their first Premier League home game in 12 consecutive seasons between 2003-04 and 2014-15, Chelsea have failed to win three of their last five opening home games in the competition.
Both teams are in action against newly promoted teams next, with Chelsea at Norwich on Saturday (12:30 BST) and Leicester at Sheffield United (15:00) on the same day.