The Premier League's ninety-two remaining games, spread across nine rounds of games are set to play out beginning June 17th 2020, with Project Restart's health and safety conditions meaning the remaining games of the season will be played out behind closed doors. We will be providing match reports from these behind closed doors competitive encounters as the league campaign nears its end-game. All aboard.
Match Report (GW33): Man United 5-2 Bournemouth
Previously on the Premier League…Manchester United beat a poor Brighton at the Amex 3-0, Mason Greenwood and Bruno Fernandes stole the show. The Red Devils host a Bournemouth team who were royally humbled by Newcastle 4-1 on their own turn. Bournemouth are in desperate need of getting out of the relegation zone, and Manchester United are fighting for a place in the top five. Two teams with things to fight at either end of the table.
The game began with typical United dominance on the ball, they were probing and testing the Cherries defence, with Lloyd Kelly making a rare start in the centre of the defence in place of Steve Cook finding himself remarkably busy.
Then a surprise happened…Junior Stanislas who was reinstated to the team reminded Eddie Howe of his quality. In the build up there was three instances of poor defending from United. They couldn’t win the ball into the box, Harry Maguire was turned by Stanislas, and then De Gea was beat at his front post. Stanislas squeezed the ball past the Spaniard, and they won’t be fixating on the fortune for the goal, but Stanislas did brilliant in such a tight space. Harry Maguire…the worlds most expensive defender, once again was naïve in his defending, and this is off the back of goal conceded versus Spurs at the beginning of the restart.
Following the shock Cherries lead, Rashford had a freekick on the 19th minute well saved by Aaron Ramsdale. They had to wait another ten minutes for a clear chance, but their perseverance paid off when a quick break found Marcus Rashford who got the ball to Fernandes, the Portuguese found space and a waiting Mason Greenwood who thumped the ball past the net with a powerful shot that Ramsdale couldn’t keep out even with a hand on the ball.
Just after the 31st minute there was a moment of confusion in the box as Adam Smith had committed a handball offence in his own box. VAR confirmed the penalty, which was coolly slotted into the goalkeepers left corner which Ramsdale was a fraction off from getting. Manchester United have worked their way out of a problematic first half so far. The first half continued to be good for the Red Devils as Bruno Fernandes played the ball to Martial who drove towards the edge of the Bournemouth box, and curled in a brilliant shot for United’s third goal of the game. Eddie Howe must be frustrated just how much the hope hurt his team in that half.
The second half started lively with Bournemouth hitting the bar via Danjuma, and then forcing a good save from De Gea. Then, a bizarre penalty given for a handball from Eric Bailly was reviewed by VAR. Josh King stood up for Bournemouth and scored a delightful penalty De Gea had no chance of saving. A lot of commentators were adamant the Bailly handball was off the top of his shoulder, but the ball was most definitely connecting with his upper arm, which is still handball. However, Harry Maguire is to blame for this as his poor defending opened United for these mistakes. Bournemouth could have also equalised were it not for King being offside.
Just as quickly as Bournemouth started the second half strong, United hit back just as quick. Fine short passing around the box saw Matic set up Greenwood who took on Rico, and then out of nowhere produced a rocket strike to elude Ramsdale yet again. Greenwood effectively lobbed Ramsdale, and it was a wonderful strike to double his teams lead again. Eddie Howe must be scratching his head. Worse yet for Howe, more misery in this game as Martial is fouled on the edge of his teams’ box, and Fernandes hits a perfect free kick into the right corner of the goal to give United a three-goal lead. At this point we have no idea how this game is going to finish.
Rashford had the ball in the back of the net from a Wan-Bissaka cross but it was ruled out as the England international was a clear few feet offside, but VAR had to check it, and the angle they reviewed the decision was from an angle to make Rashford look onside, with the technology judging he was only a few centimetres off. From the linesman side-view camera Rashford was clearly off. We are big advocates of the technology, but when they are pulling stunts like that to make things look different to reality…it is a real point of criticism. Matic was offside in the Fernandes free kick too, so there are questionable doubts about its implementation in this game.
The game introduced plenty of substitutes, but for the first time this season it slowed down the game. Ramsdale did make more saves when the subs came on for United, when the game had been decided. The game felt natural game before the lockdown, with subs there to see it out. The game was hectic, controversial, and amazing to watch. This felt like a proper Premier League game.
Bournemouth showed fight, but they need to convert that to results before their plight is out of their hands. Manchester United leapfrog Chelsea to fourth, with their season looking healthier since the restart.
Manchester United Returns:
Goals: M. Greenwood (2), M. Rashford (1), Martial (1), Fernandes (1)
Assists: B. Fernandes (2), Martial (2), Matic (1)
Goals: J. Stanislas (1), King (1)
Assists: King (1)
Man of the Match: Bruno Fernandes (MUN)
Take you pick in this match who deserves to be Man of the Match. Martial scored a fantastic goal from range, as did Mason Greenwood who got a double of superb finishes. United had so many creative returns it is a hard ask, but we believe the man who run the show was Bruno Fernandes. The January signing has only played nine games so far for United but his impact has been unreal for them. Eleven attacking returns all season from nine games, and three of them were in this game (1 goal, 2 assists from open player).
Fernandes could have had another two assists were it not for Ramsdale, another goal too. Fernandes was everywhere for United, and he has become the real lynchpin for OGS' system. Fernandes was the best player on the pitch today. Martial and Greenwood had the biggest moments, but Fernandes was the biggest influence on the pitch.
MUN 5-2 BOU Insight and Analysis:
The game was clear…Manchester United deserved to win. Bournemouth look relegated, but, showed some fight for the first time since the restart. United’s team have something good building under OGS. Now that I have said that, there is something that I need to talk about in the aftermath of this match. I was constantly rolling my eyes throughout this match due to an unpopular topic of conversation. If you are a Man United fan, this isn’t to rub you the wrong way, I am just calling it as I am seeing it, one you’ll agree with me. Mostly it attempts to question the overall use of VAR with the examples in this match.
VAR…if you know my Twitter page, then you know I keep record of all the goals ruled out by this controversial bit of technology. There were some moments in this game that defied all logic.
Eric Bailly Handball…Was it the shoulder? Upper arm? The angle was not 100% clear, and a decision was made off something that is heavily contested. Not clear, not obvious.
Matic Offside for Fernandes freekick…Matic was 100% off for this goal and was also impeding the goalkeeper…but the goal was given. We didn’t even get to see the proper angle. I thought that was the whole point of VAR…transparency.
Rashford offside…what the hell was happening here? The side view clearly shows Rashford offside. But they then have a strange head-on angle when making the decision. You also see them making the decision, but for the Matic goal they didn’t show you?
Transparency is crucial for VAR, and the true view of Matic’s offside was only shared a few minutes after the goal. What the hell. It is as if the referees in the VAR room want to give the goal, so they give it, then share it afterwards, and then there is an attitude of ‘Oh well, it is too late to change it now, nothing we can do’. If that happened to Spurs, like it did for Son the other week against United, they would have had that ruled out. There is no consistency of VAR’s implementation. Over the past few weeks, it has been a barrel of overlapping decisions. The worse thing is that it tracks with the mantra of United always getting the benefit of the doubt in decisions against them.
Clear bias towards certain top six teams.
This is the ugly side of VAR, and it is becoming clear to me that VAR is a smokescreen for a second referee to make even more mistakes which goes against why VAR was brought in for.
Venue: Old Trafford
Manager: Ole Gunnar Solskjær
GK: David De Gea
LB: Luke Shaw
CB: Harry Maguire
CB: Victor Lindelöf (Bailly 45')
RB: Aaron Wan-Bissaka
CDM: Nemanja Matic (Fred '67)
CDM: Paul Pogba
CAM: Bruno Fernandes
LM: Marcus Rashford (Ighalo 80')
RM: Mason Greenwood (James 75')
ST: Anthony Martial (Mata 80')
Sergio Romero, Eric Bailly, Fred, Andreas Pereira, Scott McTominay, Juan Mata, Daniel James, Odion Ighalo
Manager: Eddie Howe
GK: Aaron Ramsdale
LB: Diego Rico
CB: Lloyd Kelly
CB: Nathan Ake
RB: Adam Smith (Stacey 77')
LM: Junior Stanislas (Gosling 66')
CM: Lewis Cook (H. Wilson 66')
CM: Jefferson Lerma
RM: David Brooks (Danjuma 45')
ST: Joshua King
ST: Dominic Solanke (Billing 66')
Boruc, Travers, Stacey, Surman, Billing, Gosling, Danjuma, H. Wilson, Surridge
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