BOURNEMOUTH — The Cherries stunned the Red Devils in the swirling rain on England’s South Coast on Saturday.
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With the win Bournemouth rise to sixth place in the Premier League table on 16 points, jumping above Man United who have 13 points as their run of wins away from home ended. Ole Gunnar Solskjaer was once again an unhappy man.
3 things we learned
1. United almost at full strength, no more excuses: Ole Gunnar Solskjaer was only missing Luke Shaw and Paul Pogba from what would be his strongest possible starting lineup. United can’t keep blaming injuries for their poor start to the season. United have now lost to Bournemouth, Newcastle West Ham and Crystal Palace this season, so maybe this is their new normal. With players returning to full fitness, things could improve, but right now Solskjaer is under pressure as United could be as much as 10 points off the top four by the end of this weekend. That isn’t good enough.
2. Bournemouth’s newfound defensive solidity promises plenty: Howe’s side have been much-improved defensively in recent weeks and although they’ve struggled to score goals, they created chances against United and looked solid enough at the back. Their two midfielder destroyers were excellent and Cook and Ake have formed a solid partnership. They sat in, soaked up pressure and Bournemouth have a newfound defensive solidity. They’ve never had that since they arrived in the Premier League in 2015.
3. Midfield balance off for United: The Red Devils are missing Pogba’s ability to get them on the front foot, as McTominay, Fred and Pereira played so many sideways and safe passes in central midfield. The balance was off and United had plenty of the ball but did little with it. They had no personality and no driving influence, especially in the second half. They started well but faded badly and there was a surprising lack of creativity in the final third as Rashford, Martial and James made decent runs but weren’t found often enough.
Man of the Match: Philip Billing – Won the ball back time and time again for Bournemouth. A dominant force in midfield who won the battle against Andreas Pereira and Fred on his own. Yet another gem polished by Eddie Howe. Billing and Lerma shielded the back four expertly and Nathan Ake was superb at center back. But Billing held everything together.
Early on United were lively down their right as James raced clear but Andreas Pereira slipped as he looked to apply the finishing touch.
The movement of United’s front three caused Bournemouth so many problems early on, as James linked up with Martial to cross for Fred but he got his effort all wrong as he stretched for it.
Bournemouth’s first big chance of the game arrived via Harry Wilson as his deflected effort flew wide after some clever passes. Moments later David De Gea saved Ryan Fraser‘s cross and the Scottish winger went down in the box but no penalty kick was given despite calls of “VAR! VAR!” from the home fans.
James drilled a shot inches wide after a free kick was only half cleared as United looked dangerous every time they attacked. Fraser hit a shot straight at De Gea on the counter as the home side improved after a slow start. Martial then went down under a challenge from Jefferson Lerma which sparked a huge melee inside the box but no penalty kick was given after VAR was used.
Right on half time Bournemouth took the lead as Adam Smith’s cross was controlled brilliantly from King and he then flicked the ball over Aaron Wan-Bissaka and finished to put the Cherries ahead. It was a sublime solo goal but United should have defended better.
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The game opened up after the opening goal as Bournemouth almost grabbed a second but Fraser’s shot was right at De Gea after a lovely move down the right.
De Gea then denied King after a Bournemouth counter caught United out and Harry Wilson went down in the box but nothing was given.
The Liverpool loanee was then denied by De Gea as Bournemouth continued to have chances on the break and although United had plenty of the ball, they struggled to break down the Cherries stubborn defense.
Late on substitute Mason Greenwood hit the post as United chucked everything at Bournemouth with McTominay having a shot saved and Maguire coming close, but the Cherries held on for a famous win.