Manchester United bounced back to winning ways in gritty fashion as they narrowly beat Bournemouth 1-0 at Old Trafford on Wednesday.
The hosts were dominant in the early stages of the match, although Bournemouth looked to take the attack to them and not sit back. The Red Devils went on to grab the lead midway through the first half through Romelu Lukau, who rose the highest to meet Juan Mata’s cross and head it into the top corner.
The Cherries piled on the pressure on the other end though, testing David De Gea five times in the first half. But, it was Manchester United who came the closest to scoring before full-time whistle, with Anthony Martial firing over the crossbar and Marcus Rashford hitting the crossbar.
FT: #MUFC 1 Bournemouth 0.
— Manchester United (@ManUtd) December 13, 2017
Bournemouth piled on the pressure in the final quarter of an hour, but Manchester United held on to remain 11 points behind neighbours Manchester City. The Hard Tackle now runs the rule over Jose Mourinho’s men, following their return to winning ways.
David De Gea: 8/10
An insurmountable wall once again. With Bournemouth peppering him with shot after shot, De Gea had to stay alert, particularly when an attempted cross by Charlie Daniels swerved towards his goal.
After making seven saves on the night, he now has the most stops in the league, as well as the most clean sheets (10). An invaluable presence on the pitch for Manchester United.
Antonio Valencia: 6/10
Valencia was astute and diligent defensively, especially with Ryan Fraser and Charlie Daniels making it a twin test for him. But, it is his contributions in attack that are becoming disappointing, with his crosses not threatening at all on the night. Improvements certainly need to be made in his forward forays.
Phil Jones: 8/10
— Sky Sports PL (@SkySportsPL) December 14, 2017
Back in the side after more than a month, Jones showed no signs of rust even as Callum Wilson and later Jermain Defoe tested him with their attempted runs off his shoulder. While he was clumsy at times, the player also showed just why Mourinho rates him so highly, making a few crucial blocks and interceptions as well.
The Englishman will now aim to remain fit for the remainder of the season, especially with Eric Bailly possibly a long-term absentee with ankle injury.
Chris Smalling: 7/10
Smalling is one of the many players who have turned a corner under Mourinho this season, transforming into Mr. Consistent at the back over the last two months. Strong in the air and composed in his reading of the game, the return of Jones also seemed to have instilled some more confidence in him.
Smalling and Jones are now likely to be the central defensive partnership in the Premier League for the foreseeable future, and their understanding will be crucial.
Luke Shaw: 8/10
Shaw’s game by numbers vs. Bournemouth:
75% tackles won
100% dribbles completed
— Statman Dave (@StatmanDave) December 13, 2017
Talking about turning a corner, a Luke Shaw resurrection is brewing at Old Trafford. Making his first league start of the season, the beleaguered left-back continued from where he had left off against CSKA Moscow last week, looking strong and composed in defence while charging forward with purpose.
There still is a lot of scope for improvement, especially in his forward forays, but Shaw is taking all the right steps to win Mourinho’s confidence, with the manager displaying that after taking him off late into the match.
Nemanja Matic: 6/10
Solid as ever in front of the back-line, Matic helped calm things down during the Bournemouth onslaught, slowing the tempo of the game to wrest control of the proceedings. As the game wore on though, he started looking tired, and his late hand ball had fans’ hearts in their mouths.
The Serb looks in need of a rest, and next week’s Carabao Cup game could be just that.
Scott McTominay: 7/10
🔴⚫️ Scott McTominay (21) vs Bournemouth:
5/7 long balls
2/2 aerial duels
1 key pass
Slotted in well. 👊 pic.twitter.com/bT40lFqnoo
— Scouted Football (@ScoutedFtbl) December 13, 2017
A fine performance by the youngster. While McTominay was nervy and all over the place to begin with, he soon found his feet. He was easily the best Manchester United player in the second half, winning balls in the final third and passing the ball decisively. A superb backup option for Mourinho.
Juan Mata: 7/10
Starts have been rare to come by for Mata of late, but after looking dangerous in his came in the derby, he got the nod on Wednesday. And the Spaniard repaid his manager’s faith by playing an inch-perfect cross for Lukaku’s goal, while also working hard off the ball.
Apart from the assist, he was the creative workhorse for the hosts, involved in a number of dangerous moves, with his nippy movement making him quite the threat.
Jesse Lingard: 5/10
After producing several superb performances in recent weeks, Lingard was underwhelming on the night. While his excellent movement did open the Bournemouth defence up at times, the player was sloppy in possession and left a brilliant chance a-begging when he overran the ball.
Anthony Martial: 6/10
Martial blew hot and cold in the match, making quite a few good runs that had Adam Smith backtracking in worry. The Frenchman had a major moment to forget though, as he spurned a glorious chance to double his side’s lead from six yards out. Needs to pull his socks up.
Romelu Lukaku: 7/10
30 – Since the start of 2016-17, Romelu Lukaku has scored 30 goals in 38 Premier League appearances versus “non-big-six” sides. Bully. pic.twitter.com/lGNuCJykVx
— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) December 13, 2017
A step in the right direction by Lukaku on the night as he scored the only goal of the match to notch up his ninth in the Premier League this season. In addition to that, the Belgian striker held the ball well at times, and was heavily involved in build up play.
But, confidence is still coming in short supply for him, with the player wasteful in possession, although the goal would go a long way in addressing that.
Marcus Rashford: 7/10
Looked full of purpose ever since he was introduced for the final half an hour. Rashford was a constant threat from the left flank and was cruelly denied by the crossbar after his thumping shot beat Asmir Begovic.
Ander Herrera: 6/10
Herrera replaced a frustrated Lingard and shored up midfield as Bournemouth amped up the pressure in the dying stages of the match. His added presence in midfield helped restrict the visitors to largely half chances.
Ashley Young: N/A
On for a tiring Shaw in the dying stages of the match, Young looked a little shaky, but nothing that amounted to much.