London – Manchester United’s faltering Premier League title challenge suffered another blow in a 1-1 draw at struggling West Brom, while Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang hit a hat-trick in Arsenal’s 4-2 win against Leeds yesterday.
United have dropped points in five of their last seven league games to allow Manchester City to pull seven points clear, with a game in hand.
A point was enough to nudge Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s men back above Leicester into second on goal difference.
But that was of little consolation to United against a West Brom side that had conceded 24 goals in taking just one point from their previous seven home games.
Indeed, it was Sam Allardyce’s men who had the better chances to win the game and give their dwindling hopes of beating the drop a boost.
United made the worst possible start when Conor Gallagher swung in a cross and Mbaye Diagne outmuscled Victor Lindelof to power home a header after just 80 seconds.
“We gave ourselves a tough start,” said Solskjaer, whose side have fallen behind in eight of their 12 away league games this season.
“You’ve got 90 odd minutes to make amends so there is no need to panic but I didn’t feel we built that momentum until too late in the first half.
“Second half there was only one-way traffic but still there were a couple of moments where we could have lost the game.”
United struggled to make the most of their territorial dominance until Bruno Fernandes produced a moment of magic with a dipping volley on his weaker left foot a minute before half-time.
Sam Johnstone denied Mason Greenwood and Scott McTominay had an effort cleared off the line as United pressed for a winner after the break.
But it was Diagne who twice should have won the game late on as he was denied when one-on-one with David de Gea before blazing an enticing low cross over the bar.
Johnstone was required once more deep into stoppage time when he tipped Harry Maguire’s header onto the post.
Aubameyang propels Arsenal
At the Emirates Stadium, Aubameyang scored his first ever Premier League hat-trick to get the Gunners back on track after two successive defeats and three games without a win.
Aubameyang has endured a difficult season marred by poor form and his mother’s illness, which prompted him to take a leave of absence recently.
The Arsenal captain struck in the 13th minute when he skipped away from Luke Ayling and fired low past Illan Meslier.
Aubameyang converted a 41st-minute penalty after Meslier lost possession and then fouled Bukayo Saka.
Hector Bellerin made it three on the stroke of half-time when his shot beat the hapless Meslier’s weak attempted save at his near post.
Aubameyang completed his hat-trick in the 47th minute with a diving header from Emile Smith Rowe’s cross for his 11th goal of the season.
Pascal Struijk’s 58th-minute header and Helder Costa’s strike in the 69th minute came too late for Marcelo Bielsa’s men as Arsenal climbed above Leeds into 10th place.
“The hat-trick means a lot. It’s been a tough time for me,” Aubameyang said.
“Everyone was giving a lot of love to me, my mum and my family. I have to say thank you to everyone at the club and the fans.”
Everton missed the chance to move level with neighbours Liverpool in fourth as they were well beaten 2-0 by Fulham.
Josh Maja scored twice for the visitors at Goodison Park to end Fulham’s 12-game winless league run.
Scott Parker’s men still face an uphill task to survive, but close the gap on Newcastle, who travel to Chelsea today, to seven points.
Wolves moved 12 points clear of the drop zone after coming from behind for a 2-1 win that extended Southampton’s six-game losing streak in the league.
The Saints had beaten Nuno Espirito Santo’s men to reach the FA Cup quarter-finals in midweek and made a promising start when Danny Ings converted Stuart Armstrong’s cross.
But Ruben Neves’ penalty and Pedro Neto’s strike just past the hour earned only a second Wolves win in 11 league games. — AFP