Manchester United's 0-0 draw with Chelsea as bad as defeat
Manchester United failed to break down a resolute Chelsea side, despite a much improved performance from the Red Devils. The result is sure to mean Louis van Gaal will field further questions over his future at the club after his side failed to record a win for the eighth consecutive game, keeping them five points off the top four and with their title hopes almost certainly dead.
United, sixth in the Premier League, dominated proceedings from the off against the champions, with Juan Mata almost providing the perfect start for the beleaguered Van Gaal after only three minutes when the former Chelsea midfielder struck the crossbar with a fierce half volley, with Thibaut Courtois well beaten.
Anthony Martial also hit the woodwork for United in a high octane opening 45 minutes. Chelsea's best chance of the half fell to captain John Terry, who saw a header tipped over by David de Gea.
Chelsea, who started with Eden Hazard up front in the absence of the suspended Diego Costa, had the happier players at the final whistle, as interim manager Guus Hiddink remained unbeaten since taking over from Jose Mourinho in mid-December. The Blues rode their luck at times, with Courtois miraculously keeping out Ander Herrera at point-blank range and Wayne Rooney blazing over late on.
David de Gea kept out his compatriot Pedro in one of the few Chelsea attacks, with Cesar Azpilicueta failing to convert the rebound. Nemanja Matic could have secured an unlikely win for Chelsea just after the hour mark but blazed over after being put through on goal. The Blues move up to 14th in the league, with their recovery still a work in progress.
It was a much improved performance from Louis van Gaal's side despite this being their sixth goalless draw at Old Trafford in the Premier League this season. A smattering of boos rang out from the home support at the full time whistle, and the shadow of Jose Mourinho continues to stalk Van Gaal as his side slipped further off the pace at the top.
For United fans expecting an upswing in form, the draw was the worst possible result. A defeat would have hastened Van Gaal's exit and ushered in a new manager, and with it the hope of a change in results. A win would have been ideal, with December consigned to history as a forgettable blip.
The draw, however, merely serves to maintain the status quo, which is not going to help United on or off the pitch.