Man United knew that a win would take them above Manchester City after Manuel Pellegrini’s side lost 4-1 to Tottenham Hotspur earlier in the day.
Van Gaal was content with being top and said after the game: “It’s a nice feeling to be top of the table, it’s the first time in my period so I’m happy.
“It’s always difficult when you play against a team who is only defending and counting on the counter-attack. You have to be aware and I have to admit my defence was very good today.”
United kept another clean sheet, despite having to go through a defensive shake-up. With Marcos Rojo out injured, Matteo Darmian had to slot into left back, with Antonio Valencia taking his place on the right. It meant Chris Smalling and Daley Blind could keep their improving defensive partnership going. The pair dealt well with everything Sunderland through at them and even helped bring the side forward.
It is encouraging to see the whole team beginning to play on par with each other. After the defence started the season well, all aspects of the sides play are starting to gel and United are looking like a formidable force once again.