LONDON (AP) — Manchester United was repeatedly thwarted by Tottenham goalkeeper Hugo Lloris in a scrappy 0-0 draw on Sunday but will go into the second half of the Premier League season re-established as a top-four team.
On the slide a year ago in sixth at the midway point, United is now third after extending its unbeaten run to nine matches and primed to return to the Champions League under Louis van Gaal.
Had it not been for Lloris, United might have closed in further on Chelsea and Manchester City at the summit.
But Radamel Falcao, Robin van Persie and Ashley Young were all denied by the France goalkeeper's saves. Although Phil Jones headed the ball into the net in the first half, the United defender was adjudged to be offside.
"It was the best performance of Manchester United this season in the first half," Van Gaal said. "We could have scored four or five goals."
Both teams faded in the second half as they played less than 43 hours after finishing their games on Friday in this packed post-Christmas fixture program.
"Your body cannot recover in 48 hours," Van Gaal said. "You have seen in the second half it was a struggle."
Tottenham provisionally moved above Arsenal into sixth, just a point from fourth-place Southampton after going a fifth game unbeaten under Mauricio Pochettino.
"Our mentality is stronger now," Pochettino said. "We are solid."