1 Jan 2015

Chelsea and Man United drop points

12:58 pm on 1 January 2015

Leaders Chelsea and in-form Manchester United suffered post-Christmas blues in English football's Premier League, dropping points to teams chasing a place in the top four.

Eden Hazard of Chelsea tangles with Martin Demichelis.

Eden Hazard of Chelsea tangles with Martin Demichelis. Photo: PHOTOSPORT

Chelsea were held to a 1-1 draw by Southampton, while United drew 0-0 at Tottenham Hotspur.

Manchester City squandered the opportunity to close the gap on Chelsea when they let slip a two-goal lead to draw 2-2 at home to bottom placed Burnley.

Chelsea were bidding to open up a provisional three-point lead, but fell behind in the 17th minute at St Mary's when Dusan Tadic freed Sadio Mane, who coolly headed the ball forwards before lobbing Thibaut Courtois.

Eden Hazard equalised in first-half injury time, scampering onto Cesc Fabregas's pass down the left wing and cutting inside two defenders before firing home with his right foot.

But despite sending on Willian, Didier Drogba and Loic Remy in the second half, Jose Mourinho's side were unable to find a winner, two days on from their classy 2-0 win over West Ham United.

The closest they came was a shot from Hazard that flashed wide, while Fabregas was contentiously booked for diving when he went down in the Southampton box after apparently being caught by 19-year-old Matthew Targett.

Southampton had to play the closing stages with 10 men after midfielder Morgan Schneiderlin was sent off for two bookable offences, but they held on for a draw that left them three points below third-place United.

United had earlier squandered an opportunity to put pressure on the top two after being held to a frustrating 0-0 draw at Tottenham.

Louis van Gaal's side created a string of chances, with Juan Mata hitting the woodwork and Spurs goalkeeper Hugo Lloris producing a number of excellent saves, but had to settle for a point.

The draw extended United's unbeaten run to nine games, but left them 10 points below Chelsea and six behind City.

Tottenham are five points further back in sixth place.

"We lost two points I think," United manager Van Gaal says. "We had the best performance of Manchester United this season in the first half. We could have scored four or five goals and we didn't reward ourselves."

Van Gaal kept faith with the team that had beaten Newcastle United 3-1 on Boxing Day and he saw his side completely dominate the first half at a sunny but chilly White Hart Lane.

Lloris saved from Radamel Falcao, twice, Robin van Persie, Wayne Rooney and Ashley Young, while Mata hit the post with a deflected free-kick and Phil Jones was denied by an offside flag after squeezing a header over the line.

United lost Antonio Valencia to injury at half-time, with Rafael da Silva coming on, but continued to make chances. Mata crossed for Van Persie to volley over and later spooned a cut-back from Rafael into the stands.

But Spurs took control as the game wore on, with United goalkeeper David de Gea saving from Andros Townsend, Federico Fazio and Christian Eriksen, while Harry Kane cleverly teed up Ryan Mason to fire over.

Third-bottom Crystal Palace began life without sacked manager Neil Warnock with a goalless draw with Queens Park Rangers, where caretaker coach Keith Millen was in charge of the visiting side.

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