Manchester United travelled to the Vitality Stadium to take on Gary O’Neil’s Bournemouth, with top four still an unguaranteed achievement.
Erik ten Hag named a strong starting XI consisting of David de Gea in goal with Aaron Wan-Bissaka, Raphael Varane, Victor Lindelof and Luke Shaw ahead of the shot-stopper.
United’s midfield trio consisted of Casemiro, Christian Eriksen and Bruno Fernandes.
Despite training, Marcus Rashford, who fell ill, was unable to make the matchday squad.
Anthony Martial led the line with Jadon Sancho and Antony on either side of the Frenchman.
Manchester United need two wins from three to guarantee Champions League football. Can they get the job done against Bournemouth? #MUFC #BOUMUN #PL #PremierLeague #ThePeoplesPerson pic.twitter.com/95F6tX3YrB
— The Peoples Person (@_peoplesperson_) May 20, 2023
Here are three things we learned from Manchester United’s 1-0 win against Bournemouth
Solid first-half performance
United were easily the best side in the opening 45 minutes and received their reward by going into the break a goal up courtesy of Casemiro.
The Brazilian midfielder ventured inside the box and produced a brilliant scissor-kick to emphatically guide the ball into the back of the Bournemouth net.
United were in control for large parts of the game and limited the Cherries to only a single shot on target that was comfortably saved by De Gea.
Erik ten Hag’s men in the middle of the park controlled proceedings and helped peg Bournemouth’s stars inside their own half.
The defence stood firm and warded off any attacking spells Bournemouth tried to mount.
United’s passing was assured and composed, which enabled the team to sustain periods of pressure and possession.
The Reds could have fashioned more opportunities but apart from that, Ten Hag would have been pleased with what he saw.
United’s attack struggling again
A recurring theme of the game, as has been the case for most parts of the season, was United attacking line and just how much the players struggled to score or make the most of the chances created for them.
Sancho was uninspiring and lacked conviction in anything he did. The Englishman just never seemed up for the game.
Antony has been good in recent games but at the Vitality, the winger struggled to make an impact. He had a good chance through on goal in the second half, but he wasted it as he tried to shift the ball to his left foot. This momentary lapse gave Bournemouth’s defenders time to get back and position themselves accordingly.
Martial was not as lethal as he would have hoped and the 26-year-old was substituted four minutes shy of the hour mark.
He seemed displeased with the decision to be taken off for Wout Weghorst and the France international went straight down the tunnel without acknowledging Ten Hag.
Martial heads down the tunnel. Acknowledged some subs and staff but nothing from Ten Hag. #mufc
— Samuel Luckhurst (@samuelluckhurst) May 20, 2023
Weghorst was not any better than Martial – hardly surprising really.
In Rashford’s absence, the Red Devils’ forward men were lacklustre and for United fans, the summer transfer window can’t come fast enough. Acquiring a world-class goalscorer and possibly other attacking additions should be the utmost priority.
United have one foot inside the Champions League
By winning against Bournemouth, United need to only win one more game against either Chelsea or Fulham to guarantee Champions League football at Old Trafford next season
Ten Hag has repeatedly claimed that qualifying for the competition is paramount for United and the Reds are close to achieving this.
There can be no mistakes in the next two games.
Luckily for United, they are both home games. Much of United’s success this season has been built on the team’s home form.