Why United became Cherries' latest victims: 5 things from Bournemouth 2-1 Man United
1. United's depleted defence crumbled
Manchester United went into this game with the best defensive record in the Premier League, having conceded only 10 goals in 15 league matches.
But the team that turned out at the Vitality Stadium looked more like a Capital One Cup line-up than a line-up for a Premier League fixture. Given their lack of success in the Capital One Cup in recent times, it was probably no surprise that this match ended unhappily for them too, as Bournemouth followed up their win at Chelsea with another highly impressive shock triumph.
Guillermo Varela, Paddy McNair and Cameron Borthwick-Jackson all started the match in an inexperienced United defence, while Andreas Pereira came on for the injured Jesse Lingard before half time and Nick Powell was introduced in the second half.
United had 57% possession and the game's top 5 passers were all visiting players. Michael Carrick completed 55 passes, the highest of any player on the field.
But United created only 2 chances to Bournemouth's 8, with Louis van Gaal's depleted back line really struggling on this occasion. The visitors won only 2 of 12 aerial duels and McNair was successful with just 5 of 10 attempted tackles. Both McNair and central defensive partner Daley Blind toiled badly against the pace of Junior Stanislas and Josh King.
"We had a lot of problems with King," Van Gaal admitted afterwards, as United's winless run extended to 5 games. "In the second half we couldn't always manage the long balls in the channels for him. That was the reason why in the second half we weren't dominating any more."
Van Gaal did reserve praise for Borthwick-Jackson's display at left back, but United have now won only 2 of their 8 matches directly after Champions League games this season - not that they'll have that problem any more.
2. Experienced stars slipped up at set pieces
Given the youthful look to United's defence, there was a real emphasis on the more experienced players to pull them through. That didn't happen, and in fact both of Bournemouth's goals came from mistakes from experienced internationals.
David De Gea was at fault for the first goal, misjudging the flight of the ball as Stanislas bizarrely scored direct from a corner inside two minutes. Blind then fell asleep to allow King to fire home unmarked from another set piece in the second half.
That's now 4 goals conceded from set pieces in two matches, after Naldo scored twice for Wolfsburg in midweek.
"Two set plays, two goals, you cannot accept that as a manager because we pay a lot of attention to it," Van Gaal said. "Also against Wolfsburg it was the reason why we lost, so it's a very strong lesson for us."
3. Howe's eye for potential pays dividends
Bournemouth have had their own injury problems this season, with star striker Callum Wilson ruled out through a cruciate ligament injury. Eddie Howe has therefore had to rely on less proven goalscoring talents, but Stanislas and King caused real problems in attacking areas.
It once again illustrated Howe's eye for potential, something that has been a key part of Bournemouth's rise through the leagues. Stanislas was only a fringe player under Sean Dyche at Burnley when he departed for the south coast 18 months ago, to rejoin his former Turf Moor boss Howe. King likewise largely played second fiddle at Blackburn to Jordan Rhodes and Rudy Gestede.
But Howe recognised their ability and now they are both delivering in the Premier League. Stanislas had 3 shots in this game, getting 2 on target, and has now been involved in 4 goals in his last 4 appearances - scoring 3 times and providing 1 assist.
"Junior generates huge whip on the ball from set-pieces," Howe said afterwards. "He was the architect behind the Chelsea goal as well with the corner."
King has 2 goals in his last 4 games - and incredibly the 23-year-old has never scored more than 2 goals in a league season. He had 2 shots and created 2 chances in this game, as well as completing 4 take-ons, the most of any player.
4. Bournemouth resilient at the back
If Manchester United struggled in defence, Bournemouth certainly did not. For the second week running they shocked respected opponents despite having a minority share of possession.
The fact that United had so few clear-cut chances was down to Bournemouth's resilience at the back, even though they only have 2 Premier League clean sheets to their name this season.
The Cherries completed a very impressive 31 of 39 attempted clearances, after making 29 at Stamford Bridge a week ago. Manchester United were only successful with 12. Simon Francis topped the clearance count with 9, with 7 of them headed.
Van Gaal also praised Bournemouth's pressing in midfield, with Harry Arter producing another stellar performance, seven days after being man of the match at Chelsea. Arter completed 9 ball recoveries and completed 34 of 40 attempted passes at the end of a week in which he and his partner tragically lost their child at birth.
"It's been a hugely emotional week for him and to play the way he did today, I can't credit him enough," Howe said.
5. United's substitutions baffle
It was something of a surprise that, despite United's injury problems and their slide towards defeat, Ashley Young remained unused on the bench for the entire 90 minutes. Likewise Morgan Schneiderlin.
Van Gaal opted to start with Varela and Borthwick-Jackson ahead of Young at full back, and then introduced Pereira on the wing ahead of the former Aston Villa man too.
Even when United badly needed better service in the final minutes, Young still didn't come on. First Nick Powell was introduced for Marouane Fellaini, then defender Phil Jones was brought on in the closing minutes as McNair cramped up.
Pereira didn't have a great impact, with only 2 of his 9 crosses successful, while Powell was virtually anonymous - receiving only 2 passes in his 21 minutes on the field, including stoppage time.
Van Gaal said afterwards that Young had not been fully fit but his decision to substitute Fellaini - something he confirmed was tactical - also seemed surprising. The Belgian had scored United's goal and attempted 5 shots during the game. Fellaini may not have been brilliant, but he was at least offering something different and knows how to cause trouble in the penalty area.
"I wanted to try something else because we played 70 minutes in that way," Van Gaal said. "I wanted to try to disorganise the opponents with players in different positions."
It didn't work.
- Manchester United’s starting XI was their sixth youngest in Premier League history (24y 131d) and their youngest since May 2014 vs Hull (24y 82d).
- Junior Stanislas has scored 3 goals in his last 2 home games and been involved in 4 goals in his last 4 Premier League appearances (3 goals, 1 assist).
- Stanislas’s opening goal was the third-fastest goal this season (1:40) – the fastest goal was scored by Bournemouth’s Matt Ritchie against Spurs after 49 seconds.
- It was the fastest goal conceded by Manchester United in the Premier League since March 2014 (Edin Dzeko for Man City, 43 seconds).
- Marouane Fellaini netted his first Premier League goal since May and had gone 9 league appearances without one before today.
- Manchester United conceded 2 goals from corner situations in a single game for the first time since January 2014 vs Chelsea
- It was Manchester United’s 13th defeat against a newly-promoted side in the Premier League, their first since losing 5-3 to Leicester last season.
- Bournemouth are only the second team to beat Chelsea and Manchester United in consecutive Premier League games (Everton did it in February 2010).
- The Red Devils have lost back-to-back games (all competitions) for the first time since May.