LONDON, Dec 21 (Reuters) - The future cannot arrive soon enough for Everton and Arsenal whose limitations were laid bare in a dreadful 0-0 Premier League draw watched by their incoming managers in the directors’ box on Saturday.
The early game at Goodison Park had a strange atmosphere with confirmation that Carlo Ancelotti would become Everton’s new manager arriving an hour before kickoff.
Ancelotti was all smiles as fans welcomed the Italian, but like Mikel Arteta, named as Arsenal successor to Unai Emery on Friday, would have left under no illusions about the size of the task to revive his new club.
While Everton and Arsenal languish in 15th and 11th places respectively, Sheffield United continue to challenge for an unlikely place in the top four as their unbeaten away record in the league continued with a 1-0 win at Brighton & Hove Albion.
Oliver McBurnie scored the only goal midway through the first half as Chris Wilder’s side moved fifth with 28 points, one behind fourth-placed Chelsea who visit Tottenham Hotspur in Sunday’s eagerly-anticipated London derby.
Wolverhampton Wanderers, another club threatening to re-arrange the furniture at the top of the table, came from a goal down to win 2-1 at relegation-threatened Norwich City.
Second-half goals by Romain Saiss and Raul Jimenez lifted Wolves to sixth, one point behind Sheffield United.
Aston Villa dropped into the bottom three as they lost 3-1 at home to Southampton who climbed out of the relegation zone — Danny Ings twice on target for the Saints.
Paraguayan striker Miguel Almiron scored his first Newcastle United goal at the 27th attempt, striking late to earn a 1-0 home win over Crystal Palace in a drab affair on Tyneside.
Burnley snatched a 1-0 win at Bournemouth with Jay Rodriguez pouncing in the 89th minute.
Third plays second later when Manchester City host Leicester City.
Everton, with former striker Duncan Ferguson taking charge for the final time as interim manager, were arguably the better side against Arsenal but failed to have an effort on target.
Ferguson enjoyed a win over Chelsea and draws against Manchester United and Arsenal in his short spell in charge and applauded the players for their response to his temporary spell in charge following Marco Silva’s sacking.
“The players have gone to the well when I’ve asked them to dig deep,” he said. “I’ve enjoyed it. The boys have worked hard the past three games but were on their last legs today.”
Arsenal had the best chance through Gabriel Martinelli in the first half but stand-in manager Freddie Ljungberg will make way for Arteta having failed to find any spark from the team, winning just one of his six matches in charge.
“I’ve learned a lot and it’s been a proud time for me to lead this amazing club,” former Arsenal midfielder Ljungberg said. (Reporting by Martyn Herman, editing by Ed Osmond)