Arsenal go atop; United, Blues draw

Manchester, December 29

Embattled Manchester United manager Louis van Gaal remains on the brink after his struggling side were held to a 0-0 draw by Chelsea, while Arsenal surged to the top of the Premier League with a 2-0 victory over Bournemouth on Monday.

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.

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.

“Will I resign? On the contrary,” van Gaal told BT Sport when quizzed on his future in a post-match interview. “When the players can give such a performance with a lot of pressure, there is not any reason to resign for me. Maybe the media wants me to but I shall not resign.”

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 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. 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 following a goalless home draw with Swansea City. Meanwhile, in-form 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.

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.