It was an exceptional goal-fest at Old Trafford as Manchester United battered AFC Bournemouth 5-2 on Saturday. The relegation-battling side actually opened the scoring when Junior Stanislas bested David De Gea at close range.
The Red Devils took that as an incentive to set firing as Mason Greenwood equalized with a sublime strike close to the half-hour mark. The scoring continued as just over five minutes later Marcus Rashford buried a great penalty kick. Not to be bettered by his partner, Anthony Martial found the third goal at the cusp of half-time.
In the second period, Eddie Howe’s men looked to pose a threat yet again when they netted a penalty of their own via Joshua King but less than ten minutes later, Mason Greenwood and Bruno Fernandes had goals of their own on the scoreline.
1. 16 Games Unbeaten
Solskjær’s finest run as United manager continues and is now 16 games strong. While the two goals conceded will certainly cause some worry, putting a blemish on their defensive form in these games, United certainly looked like a side to fear.
With these three points, they have now temporarily ousted Chelsea from their top-four spot once more, at least until the London giants face Watford and are currently three points shy of Leicester City as the Champions League spots remain wide open.
The number of goals scored in this final run of games will be crucial to the side as it seems likely that the top-five spots will be decided by goal difference and currently only the Foxes have a better number than United.
2. Goal Happy Frontline
Both Martial and Rashford tasted what it feels like to score 20 goals during this season, topping the charts for the Red Devils. This is the career-best tally from both forwards who will be hungry to better these numbers in the games left as well as excel in the seasons to come. It has been nearly a decade since United saw two separate players each score 20 goals each.
Further still, they may be soon joined by Mason Greenwood who had two goals to his name during the fixture, both created seemingly out of nowhere. The teenager invents goals every time he gets the ball and is already at 15 goals on his own across competitions, so far this season.
3. Fernandes Still Undefeated
Manchester United’s undoubted catalyst amongst all this is still Bruno Fernandes who remains undefeated since he made the switch from Sporting in the winter.
The Portuguese midfielder notched up an assist as well as a goal for himself during the game, ensuring that his contributions remain heavily impactful for the goal following an impressive brace against Brighton earlier.
Free-kicks are once more a threat and now the Red Devils have a daunting option at their disposal.
4. Eddie Howe’s Tactical Masterstroke
Eddie Howe may have had his hard luck as a gaffer but his tactical genius showed early on when he nearly paralyzed the home side in the opening minutes.
By choosing to take the game to United and operate narrow, compact, and congested in the middle, Howe ensured that the biggest threat to Bournemouth, that from Pogba and Fernandes taking advantage of open spaces, was neutralized.
As such, when one sees that two of United’s goals came from a free-kick and a penalty respectively, they were really put to the task by the visitors.
Even if the Cherries get relegated this campaign, there is a good chance Howe will be rewarded for his prowess with a top-flight job in the near future.
5. Aaron Ramsdale’s Brilliance
In a game where 5 goals were conceded, it may seem a bit odd to lavish praise upon the same keeper. However, Ramsdale was impeccable in his efforts and ensured that despite a whopping 19 attempts from United, 10 of which were on target, only 3 got in from open play, and the other two were let in from a penalty and free-kick respectively.
It is incredibly hard for a shotstopper to achieve this, especially when defeat was imminent, but the manner in which he saved three goalscoring shots in the final 10 minutes and Rashford’s excellent free kick in the first-half, certainly illustrates why the Englishman deserves due credit.