The Vitality stadium was the venue for this weekend’s clash between AFC Bournemouth and Manchester United. The game ended 2-1 with the Cherries following last week’s heroics at the Bridge with another win over the most decorated team in Premier League history. Junior Stanislas was the star as he put his team ahead early on before Joshua King added the decisive winner.
United were going into this after a week of torrents of criticisms over coach Louis Van Gaal’s style of play after the exit from the Champions League at Wolfsburg. That German battle left the team with 9 first team players injured the most prominent of them being Chris Smalling who has been a rock at the back for United this season. Bournemouth after their win over Chelsea were hoping to do a December double over the two biggest teams in the division- and with United looking somewhat less formidable than they were earlier on in the season, one would not have put it past them in doing just that.
United started with an inexperienced back line. Blind and McCNair started in central defense with 18 year old Borthwick-Jackson and Valera coming in at left and right back respectively. Felliani made a start in midfield alongside Carrick with Martial leading the attack. Depay was called back to the starting eleven. Bournemouth had Artur Buroc in goal with Junior Stanislas and Joshua King in attack. Glen Murray had a place on the bench. Matt Richie was in midfield for the cherries.
The match started with Bournemouth going all gung ho in their play. They looked to capitalize on the weakness on United’s rookie backline most specifically on the right and left backs. They hurried and hustled them into committing needless fouls and way ward passes which put United on the back foot early on.
Bournemouth got their reward for coming out of their blocks early when in the 2nd minute, Stanislas caught the ever dependable De Gea off guard with a well whipped corner that went straight into the net. It was a stunner and a thing of beauty. United were behind and needed to respond quickly.
They went in search of an equalizer and were thwarted on several occasions by Artur Buroc who was not ready to give up his team’s advantage that easily. He made a double save from first Felliani then McCNair with the follow up. It looked like it was going to be a long night for the United defense who were being run rugged by Stanislas, King and Matt Ritchie. Stanislas almost added a second goal but De Gea came to the rescue not for the first time this season though. The trio were having a field day.
United eventually got a foot hold of the game and started controlling it to their tempo. Anthony Martial almost put them level when he was gifted the ball after a slip from one of Bournemouth defenders. He shot wide and golden opportunity missed. The equalizer did eventually come in the 24th minute when a beautifully weighted ball from Carrick in midfield found Memphis on the left wing. The winger pulled up some trickery but is shot was blocked by Buroc only for Felliani to have a bite of the cherry and eventually score after being blocked on his first attempt. It was a scrappy goal but a vital one for United who were yet to fully assert themselves on the game.
Jesse Lingard was pulled off for Andreas Pereira after he sustained an injury in the first half. Juan Mata was a complete passenger in the match with his influence rarely felt. He was bullied in midfield throughout the game and it was surprising to see him last 90 minutes. As the first half was winding to a close there were spurts of chances from both teams. Martial attempted to dribble past an entire defense and almost succeeded if not for good recovery from The Cherries back line. King also had a chance to score but missed.
The second half began with the Cherries on top again. They looked to want it more and dominated in terms of clear cut chances. The soft under belly of United team was laid bare for all to see with Borthwick-Jackson being the major culprit. He was over run, misplaced passes and was mostly found out of position. It was a night to forget for him.
Then in the 54th minute Bournemouth got their second goal after a Matt Ritchie corner found Josh King who had freed himself of Daley Blind. The former United man shot past the crowd of players into the back of the net. Bournemouth fans were in ebullient mood and rightly: their team were on the verge of a December double over two “Big Boys”.
United went in search of the second equalizer but it was not meant to be. Keeper Buroc was in fine form, blocking all that was thrown at him. Their back line was rock solid and frustrated the Red Devils. Glen Murray was introduced later on for the Cherries and he could have added a third after missing two guilt edged chances. Martial also shot sky high after creating space in the penalty area. Phil Jones was introduced late on for McCnair and Felliaini off for Nick Powell.
The Red Devils were unlucky not to get at least a draw but Bournemouth showed much more energy and hunger. It was a much deserved win for them and an embarrassing one for United. Another shock surprise result in this ever unpredictable Premier League Campaign.
Manchester United manager earlier on this week reiterated the fact that United winning week in week out was not to be expected by fans and that the United of ten years ago is not the United of now. Well Louis, you were right. This United team is nothing like the United of old but it also doesn’t also exude confidence for a manager to suggest that his team cannot be as great or good as that team as this can leave them stagnant and low in belief and potential. Let’s not throw the baby out with the bath water yet. The manager obviously needs time and patience, but with the amount of money spent that is a luxury that he might not have.