Written by Rodmorg
After a daunting trip to Wembley Stadium on Boxing Day resulted in a 5-0 loss, Eddie and his team took another long trip up to Manchester, in which they faced Manchester United, of whom had replaced Jose Mourinho with Ole Gunnar Solskjær. The new manager had transformed the side into an impressive free-scoring side and it would eventually turn out to be a tough match for The Cherries.
Bournemouth switched to a back three after the thumping at Spurs, Eddie remained faithful to some players that may be considered as out of form, namely in Charlie Daniels and Junior Stanislas. Jordon Ibe, Josh King and Diego Rico came back into the side, with Daniels at LCB and Stanislas in centre midfield, replacing Jefferson Lerma. Jordon Ibe came back to RWB after Simon Francis’ devastating injury.
Although a win was unlikely for the away side, the team were hoping to snatch a draw, as they had done only two years ago. However, it only took 4 minutes for an inevitable goal to come, as Rashford on the left wing danced past Ake and Rico to square to POGBA who slid in from 6 yards out.
The Cherries gradually grew into the game, as a creative corner routine on the right wing allowed Ake to unleash a powerful header which was blocked by a defender and skimmed the shoulder of De Gea before clearing; a slice of luck for the Manchester side.
Roughly ten minutes after our best chance of the match, United brushed the spirit away as an affirmative cross from the left by Herrera allowed POGBA to power a header past Begovic.
Bournemouth instantly tried to get a goal back and could’ve had an extra man on the pitch after Young two-footed King by the United box, only to be punished with an arguable yellow card.
With the game approaching half-time at 2-0, another looped ball into the Bournemouth box allowed RASHFORD to creep the ball past Begovic again for their third goal. All hope was lost until Nathan AKE gave Bournemouth a lifeline as some neat play from David Brooks after a corner allowed the defender to blast in a header from 6 yards out.
Half-Time: Manchester United 3-1 Bournemouth
Bournemouth were perhaps experiencing their best spell of the match after a good block to prevent King from pulling another back. The following corner was littered in controversy. Daniels had attempted to get his head on a cross from Stanislas but was beaten by Bailly and fell to the ground instantly, with the referee waving play on. Replays show that although Bailly got to the ball, the follow through of his boot met Daniels on the face and collarbone. A certain penalty and red card that should not have been missed by the referee. Ten minutes later he would be deservedly sent off for an awful two-footed tackle on Ryan Fraser.
Only moments later, substitute LUKAKU finished off the game with a drive past Begovic – from an offside position. The spirit had been killed off instantly, with the only remaining highlight being Surman bending one just an inch or two beside the post.
Full-Time: Manchester United 4-1 Bournemouth
Asmir Begovic – 6: Not at fault for any of the goals and did well to produce a finger-tip save and a save from a 1 on 1 situation but looked relatively nervous on the ball.
Jordon Ibe – 5: Defensively poor. Did his usual of running into cul-de-sacs and losing possession when he had the opportunity to pass. Looked naïve again at RWB, but showed some good bursts forward.
Steve Cook – 6: Did okay despite the 4 conceded goals. Made some good blocks and interceptions and had a good drive forward late on, that could have easily been an assist.
Nathan Ake – 5: Quite a polarising performance given his goal but was at fault for the first and had some particularly bad marking.
Charlie Daniels – 6: Did rather well in a position he’s starting to get used to. Was unfortunate to not have a penalty given after his kick to the face and collarbone.
Diego Rico – 3: Was dominated in the first half and switched off in the second half. Is fine going forward but defensively diabolical. Looked very off-colour.
David Brooks – 6: Noticed his poor marking of Pogba in the second goal. Did look creative and was so in his assist for Ake but other than that it was probably a good idea to rest him for the next match.
Andrew Surman – 6 – MOTM: Very calm and composed throughout the match and it was showed in his passing and positioning. Had a chance to score late on that went just wide. Particularly difficult to pick a MOTM
Junior Stanislas – 5: Another off-colour performance by Stan. Had little involvement compared to other players such as Brooks and Surman.
Callum Wilson – 6: Looked very much isolated up front but made the most of it. Like Brooks, probably for the better, he came off.
Josh King – 6 –: Had a couple of half chances and most likely would have scored if it had not been for an excellent block by the opposition defender.
Ryan Fraser (Callum Wilson – 67) – 6: Was at the victim for the opposing red card and made some excellent runs down the wing as per usual but the game was gone by the time he came on.
Lys Mousset (David Brooks – 67) – 6: Another contender for MOTM despite his 30-minute cameo had had some good chances and looks confident on the ball. Should probably start ahead of King on Wednesday.
Tyrone Mings (Nathan Ake – 81) – N/A
Overall Team Rating – 5: Defensively poor. The game was arguably off after the first goal and looked more or less like it was to prevent more going in after that. Ake gave a lifeline on the stroke of half-time but it was blatant that the refereeing this evening had a major influence on the outcome.
So the final game of the calendar year finishes in what we usually experience against the “Top Six” – poor/biased refereeing decisions. The man in the middle – Lee Mason – got most of his major decisions wrong today; Ashley Young should’ve seen red, as well as Bailly before he was deservedly sent off, and also the final goal should not have stood.
The referee may have had a poor game but the team selection from Eddie Howe is questionable. Firstly, to have continued faith in selecting Stanislas and Daniels (of which both were out of position this evening) against a very ruthless looking United side was simply confusing. Although upon reflection Daniels had a fairly mediocre game, it must be frustrating for Mings and Simpson not to be selected, given how Daniels’ recent performances have been so poor. To provide Rico with a chance tonight may have been perceived as a good thing but his performance may have proven why Eddie is doubtful to start him. Also worth noting the dire situation at RB/RWB. Although Ibe had a great performance there against Chelsea, it is beyond doubt that his defensive performance was the opposite tonight. Having to rely on Cook whenever attacks came on his side puts the whole backline at risk, and it was shown on numerous occasions, such as the third goal.
Despite his tactical decisions proving to be a major factor as to why we lose, it can be seen as a positive. Considering we’ve got to play Watford in three days’ time, his decision to rest Lerma and only give short spells to Fraser, Wilson and Brooks means that he’s more focused on the next fixture. The likelihood of us beating Watford is far higher than that of Man United but that doesn’t dismiss the fact we could always give it a go. Personally, it was probably a good idea to rest the mentioned players, but for Eddie to continue to start Daniels (at a weakened position) than Mings is a bad move.
On a final note, outliers Mousset and Mings need to start against Watford. Although King was bright today, it’s probably for the better if Mousset is given the go ahead and he has proved it with his effort. In regard to Mings, it’s debatable which one of Daniels or Rico gets replaced but it’s certain that Mings needs to start.
In all, a poor game with bad tactical decisions on top of some questionable refereeing leaves us in 12th position halfway through the season, and 11 points clear of relegation zone. A good run of games is ahead of us and only a handful of wins next year will ensure us of Premier league status for the upcoming season.
Neil Dawson wrote…
It all seems a little flat, doesn’t it. I thought we were all at least 10% off personal bests at least today with King, Wilson Stanislas and Rico 20% off their bests. I will leave others to their normal story that we’d have won it 2-0 if it wasn’t for the officials.
A lot of mysteries for me today…
Why have reserve centre halfs who have been outstanding when called upon then play an out of form left back at centre-half. Four goals scored from United’s right side today.
If you are resting players for Watford why play your first team strike duo when they are clearly knackered.
Why say continually that people have to play well to stay in the team but play an out of form Stanislas week after week after week. – Join the conversation, click here.