Football: Improved Manchester United draw with Chelsea, Arsenal go top

Wayne Rooney (left) and Branislav Ivanovic vie for the ball.
Wayne Rooney (left) and Branislav Ivanovic vie for the ball. PHOTO: REUTERS
Arsenal's Kieran Gibbs and Bournemouth's Simon Francis vie for the ball in Monday's match.
Arsenal's Kieran Gibbs and Bournemouth's Simon Francis vie for the ball in Monday's match.PHOTO: REUTERS

LONDON (REUTERS/AFP) - Manchester United's winless run continued but they gave under-fire coach Louis van Gaal crumbs of cheer with a committed display in an entertaining 0-0 draw with Chelsea while Arsenal went top of the table on Monday.

Arsenal beat Bournemouth 2-0 with goals from Gabriel and Mesut Ozil to move on to 39 points from 19 Premier League games, one ahead of Leicester City who are at home to Manchester City, in fourth, on Tuesday.

Dutchman Van Gaal, whose tenure in the Old Trafford hot seat is under intense scrutiny after a Champions League exit and three successive league defeats, was afforded a warm reception by fans who have been critical of his team's lack of flair.

 

United responded with attacking intent, striking the woodwork twice in the opening 16 minutes and both sides created good chances throughout.

Chelsea, playing their second game under interim manager Guus Hiddink after Jose Mourinho's sacking, wasted the game's best opportunity midway through the second half when Nemanja Matic raced clean through before blazing the ball wildly over.

United, now eight games without a win in all competitions, are sixth on 30 points while Chelsea are 14th on 20.

United had lost their last four previous games - their worst run within a single season since 1961 - and van Gaal hinted after Saturday's dismal 2-0 defeat at Stoke that he was thinking about quitting.

United's executive vice-chairman Ed Woodward had reportedly talked the Dutchman out of resigning earlier in the month as the team's struggles intensified and it had been suggested van Gaal would either walk out or be sacked if there was no improvement against Chelsea.

Van Gaal's players, many of whom are said to be unhappy with his tactics, gave a solid enough display.

But sixth placed United, without a win in eight games in all competitions, still failed to score at home for sixth time this season - leaving them five points off the top four and their manager still on borrowed time.

Juan Mata and Anthony Martial both hit the woodwork for United in the first half, while Wayne Rooney was denied by a fine stop from Chelsea goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois.

Chelsea captain John Terry had a goalbound header superbly saved by David de Gea, who also kept out a fierce Pedro Rodriguez strike early in the second half.

At the Emirates Stadium, Arsenal rebounded from their 4-0 hammering at Southampton on Saturday with a convincing display that reaffirmed their title credentials and secured a fourth win in their last five league games.

The Gunners are one point clear of second placed Leicester, who can regain pole position if Claudio Ranieri's surprise title contenders defeat fourth placed Manchester City on Tuesday.

Arsene Wenger's men were in front when Mesut Ozil's cross was guided high into the corner of the net by Brazilian defender Gabriel in the 27th minute for his first goal for Arsenal.

It was Ozil's league leading 16th assist of the season and the German midfielder almost had another before the interval when Gabriel struck a post from his set-piece.

Ozil took matters into his own hands again in the 63rd minute as the former Real Madrid star side-footed home from Olivier Giroud's pass.

There was also a significant milestone for Arsenal goalkeeper Petr Cech, who set a new Premier League record of 170 clean sheets, with 162 of those coming in his time at Chelsea.

West Ham are up to seventh after battling back to defeat Southampton 2-1 at Upton Park.

Ronald Koeman's side went ahead when Dusan Tadic pressured Hammers defender Carl Jenkinson into a 13th minute goal.

But West Ham winger Michail Antonio equalised in bizarre circumstances in the 69th minute when an attempted Southampton clearance hit him on the head and looped over Saints goalkeeper Maarten Stekelenburg.

Andy Carroll won it in the 79th minute when he drove in the rebound after an Antonio header hit the bar.

Son Heung-Min's 89th-minute strike sent Tottenham third as the South Korea forward sealed a 2-1 win at 10-man Watford.

Tottenham took a 17th-minute lead when Erik Lamela stabbed home following a defensive mix-up, before Odion Ighalo stabbed home his 14th goal of the season to equalise for Watford four minutes before half-time.

But Watford lost Nathan Ake to a red card for a waist-high foul on Lamela in the 63rd minute and Son struck at the death, gathering Kieran Trippier's half-volleyed pass and beating Heurelho Gomes.

Crystal Palace remain in fifth place, four points below the Champions League berths, following a goalless home draw with Swansea City.

Meanwhile, in-form Austrian forward Marko Arnautovic scored a stoppage-time winner from the penalty spot as Stoke City edged Everton 4-3 in a thrilling game at Goodison Park.

Stoke twice went ahead through Xherdan Shaqiri, only for Romelu Lukaku to equalise twice.

Gerard Deulofeu put Everton ahead from Ross Barkley's pass in the 71st minute, but Joselu drew Stoke level 10 minutes from time before Arnautovic settled the game from the spot after he had been fouled by John Stones.

Goals in each half from Jonny Howson and Dieumerci Mbokani gave Norwich City a 2-0 win over Aston Villa that left the Midlands club 11 points adrift of safety at the foot of the table.

Newcastle United also remain in the bottom three after falling to a 78th-minute Darren Fletcher header in a 1-0 defeat at West Bromwich Albion.