Manchester United nabbed a last minute winner to take all three points in a scintillating encounter at the Vitality Stadium.
Callum Wilson opened the scoring in the 11th minute when the United defence were caught napping after a corner kick. Wilson’s opener was cancelled out by Anthony Martial’s equaliser ten minutes before half time with Marcus Rashford sealing the victory for United in the 92nd minute after latching on to a sublime cross from Paul Pogba.
United’s Fluctuating Fowards
Mourinho has really struggled to get the most out of his attacking players this season and with Romelu Lukaku out injured, Alexis Sanchez returned today for his first start since September.
Sanchez performed well and provided a fantastic assist for Martial’s goal in the first half. However, the Chilean lacks the physical stature to lead the line against more physical sides like Bournemouth and was often crowded out.
Juan Mata and Martial have been enjoying a good run of form in recent games with the Former instrumental in United’s comeback against Newcastle a few weeks ago. Once again today he was a calm, composed and creative presence for his side. Martial, on the other hand, has surely cemented his position as a starter in this United team. The Frenchman scored United’s equaliser to take his tally to five goals in eight appearances in the Premier League.
United have only kept one clean sheet this season and they struggled to deal with the mobility of the Bournemouth attacking unit in the first half who arguably should have should more than the one. There seemed to be a complete disconnect between the United back four and their midfield as Bournemouth continually sauntered into the danger area unchallenged and unmarked.
Despite United’s midfield costing nearly £200 million, they looked devoid of energy, ideas and tactical awareness in the opening stages of the game. Nemanja Matic looked jaded and in need of couple weeks rest, Paul Pogba struggled to get involved in the action while Fred did not seem to know what his role in the team was before being hooked off early in the second half.
Much has been made of United’s poor defensive record this season but today was evidence that fault also lies with their midfield three and the poor communication between both units.
Mourinho’s Substitution Masterclass
Mourinho’s substitutions early in the second half were crucial to his side’s victory today. The addition of Ander Herrera added a much needed energy and verve to the United midfield and also offered them another attacking outlet.
Rashford will of course go home the hero after scoring the winning goal but he should also be applauded for his overall performance. The Englishman’s pace offered United the option to play in behind the stubborn Bournemouth defence and he could have been on the scoresheet earlier if it were not for some fantastic Bournemouth defending.
Bournemouth’s Dutch Diamond
Nathan Aké has been instrumental to Bournemouth’s successes this season. The Dutchman is an agile, mobile and intelligent defender who has been instrumental in earning his team four clean sheets this season. Costing the Cherries just £20 million, Aké is already proving to be one of the best bargains in recent years.
The Dutch defender was bursting with energy today, covering his defensive and attacking duties with equal aplomb. Despite his diminutive stature, Aké commanded the back line and was completely dominant in the air. His heroic performance was epitomised in the 64th minute when he bravely threw his body on the line to keep Rashford off the scoresheet. Despite the result, Aké put in a man of the match performance today.
Eddie Howe: The Next Big English Manager?
Eddie Howe’s stock just keeps rising.
Bournemouth have gone from strength to strength under the Enlishman this season. When compared to other English Premier League managers, Howe’s win rate of 32% is beaten only by Roy Hodgson who has a win rate of 33%. However, Hodgson has managed 135 more games in the Premier League than Howe.
Howe will certainly go down as a club hero and is responsible for one of the most remarkable managerial achievements of the modern era having guided Bournemouth from the depths of League One all the way to the Premier League. Despite this, one wonders how long Bournemouth can hold on to their talisman. At just 40 years old, Howe potentially has decades left in the managerial game and it is surely only a matter of time before one of the big clubs come knocking for his signature.