HALF TIME: Bournemouth 1-0 Manchester United
That’s the end of Bournemouth’s goal drought, then. Appropriately enough, given the conditions. They trot off soaked to the bone, but feeling all warm inside.
GOAL! Bournemouth 1-0 Manchester United (King 45)
… so having said that, a moment of great quality! Smith dinks a cross into the United box from the right. King chests it down on the edge of the six-yard box with his back to goal and Wan-Bissaka right behind him. King dinks the ball over his own head, spins, leans back, and lashes past De Gea! What a fine finish! Although the collective defending by Wan-Bissaka, Lindelof and Maguire, statuesque to a man, wasn’t all that great.
43 min: The wind is playing havoc. Ball control is at a premium right now. They should replace the TV commentary with a symphony for swanee whistle.
41 min: The wind’s swirling about, and so is the ball. It doesn’t make for classic viewing.
39 min: Pereira needlessly bundles Lerma to the ground, and it’s a free kick for Bournemouth out on the right. The free kick finds Harry Wilson on the edge of the box, but his fierce shot is well blocked by one of those ecru shirts.
37 min: It’s all got a bit scrappy. So with nothing much going on, the home crowd give Martial pelters, accusing the forward of diving back there in the hope of winning a penalty. All pantomime stuff.
35 min: It’s not much of a ruck, to be honest. Nobody throws hands. But the pushing and shoving earns both Lerma and Fred a yellow card. That’s earned Lerma a suspension. The resulting corner’s a non-event.
33 min: Rashford and Martial combine neatly down the inside-left channel. Martial tries to break into the box for a shot. Lerma steps across him and flicks the ball out for a corner. Martial wants a penalty, but doesn’t get one. Martial and Lerma lock horns, at which point a melee erupts. Wahey!
31 min: Billing tries to release Fraser down the left, but the pass is overhit and useless. Fraser is repeatedly finding some good positions; it’s a shame for Bournemouth that his teammates can’t find him.
30 min: A tempest rages for a couple of minutes. It dies down, and suddenly the garden-variety driving rain doesn’t seem so bad.
28 min: King nearly finds Fraser again, but the Bournemouth wide man can’t break through Lindelof’s challenge. Had he done so, he’d have been through on goal. This is better from the home side, who haven’t caused United too many problems otherwise.
27 min: Bournemouth take their first shot in anger. A long punt down the right frees King into space. He swivels and finds Fraser, in acres down the inside-left channel. Fraser enters the box, and should do much better than whistling an effort straight into De Gea’s chest.
25 min: Bournemouth string a few passes together. Much better from the home side. Suddenly Fraser turns on the jets down the left, and wins a corner. He then wastes it with an easy-to-read delivery. United clear.
23 min: Young challenges Smith hard from behind. No free kick, which annoys the crowd. Rashford takes off down the other end, and nearly works himself space to shoot on the edge of the box. Not quite. The Bournemouth faithful continue to give it some, while Eddie Howe has a full and frank exchange of views with the fourth official.
21 min: Pereira’s free kick is abysmal. But so is Cook’s clearance. The ball drops to James, to the right of the D. He hits a first-time riser towards the top right … but it flies inches wide. So close to the opener.
20 min: James purchases a cheap free kick from a clumsy Fraser as he whizzes down the right. A free kick in a dangerous position. Essentially a corner. From which …
19 min: But James is quickly coming back at Bournemouth, and earns another corner, off Rico. Pereira’s aimless corner is easily cleared.
18 min: Rashford bombs down the left. After performing a couple of cute stepovers, he pulls one back for Fred, who pearls goalwards. His shot is deflected out for a corner, from which nothing occurs.
16 min: United make a meal of clearing the corner. Fraser tries to force his way through a thicket of players, and falls over near Maguire. The crowd want a penalty, chanting “VAR! VAR!” but the ref’s having none of it, and anyway it looked like the Bournemouth man handled as he went over.
15 min: Harry Wilson makes a nuisance of himself down the right. He cuts into the box, one-twoing with Smith, then shoots from a tight angle. The ball’s deflected out, off Lindelof, for a corner on the right.
14 min: Callum Wilson tears down the left. He crosses long for Lerma, who prepares to shoot from the edge of the box. But the ball takes an age to drop, and by the time he’s pelting it goalwards, Maguire is right in his face to block. Harry Wilson tries to keep the move going, but turns out the chance is gone.
12 min: Fred is down, having taken an accidental whack in the face by Billing. Poor Phil. He’s up and about again soon enough.
10 min: You can’t blame them for slipping and sliding all over the shop, mind. It is a thoroughly rank day. The rain is sheeting down.
8 min: For the third time, already, James rips down the right. He loops long for Fred, who makes like Pereira did a few minutes back. If United’s midfielders stop falling over, someone’s going to connect soon and belt one into the net.
7 min: James goes on another unchallenged run down the right. Where’s Rico? James lays off for Pereira, who lashes a high, wild shot over the bar from a tight angle.
6 min: Callum Wilson surges through the middle and tries to release Harry Wilson down the left. His ball down the flank isn’t bad, but it’s anticipated by Wan-Bissaka who intercepts and sets United off on the counter. Martial has a whack from distance, but the shot dribbles into Ramsdale’s arms.
5 min: United look confident. That’s what three away wins on the spin can do. They’re pinging it around nicely. Crisp, speedy and fresh. Bournemouth can’t get a sniff at the minute.
3 min: Martial plays a lovely ball around the corner to set James skittering down the right. James cuts a lovely low ball back for Pereira, who misses his kick from the edge of the box and falls over, aquaplaning across the wet turf. Slapstick stuff, but that was a lovely incisive move by United, performed at breakneck speed.
2 min: All a bit scrappy in the early stages, as both sets of players find their feet and get used to the conditions.
And we’re off! United get the ball rolling. A cracking atmosphere on the south coast, despite the awful weather. It’s teeming down. And the wind’s up too. Not an ideal day for defenders. And immediately a long punt by Ramsdale confuses Maguire. Fortunately for the big man, the flag goes up for offside, Callum Wilson having gone far too early.
The teams are out! Bournemouth wear their stylish Milan-inspired red-and-black stripes, forcing United into a change strip of what looks suspiciously like ecru, a shade made famous by the likes of Robbie Fowler, Stan Collymore and Jason McAteer. I know United’s travails post-Fergie have been compared to Liverpool’s early-to-mid-90s decline, but this is taking things to extremes. Whatever next? Cream suits? What a pretty pass. Anyway, it’s lashing down at Dean Court. We’ll be off in a minute, after a moment’s silent reflection ahead of Remembrance Day.
… and now BT Sport talk to Eddie Howe. “Unlike us, we’ve not been at our best in the attacking third in the last three games. Hopefully that’ll change today while we keep the defensive solidity that’s served us well. We’re going to need everybody to get a result against Manchester United, the crowd, the players. We’ll have to manage the conditions. Starting well is really important. We’re certainly looking forward to the game.”
A pre-match chat with Ole. “It’s not been as bad as everyone thought it has been, and it’s probably not as great as everyone thinks it is now. You just have to be focused and take your chances. At the moment we’re confident. We have loads of running power and pace, we’ll create chances against any team. Bournemouth have top centre forwards and good delivery down either side. We need to defend properly, and we need to start well.”
Just the one change to the Bournemouth team that served up a goalless draw with Watford last weekend. Harry Wilson comes in for Arnaut Groeneveld.
Manchester United meanwhile are in if-it-ain’t-broke mode. They name the same XI sent out to beat Norwich City 3-1 last Sunday.
Bournemouth: Ramsdale, Smith, Steve Cook, Ake, Rico, Fraser, Lerma, Billing, Harry Wilson, Callum Wilson, King.
Subs: Boruc, Francis, Solanke, Danjuma, Lewis Cook, Kelly, Mepham.
Manchester United: de Gea, Wan Bissaka, Lindelof, Maguire, Young, McTominay, Fred, James, Andreas Pereira, Rashford, Martial.
Subs: Mata, Lingard, Rojo, Romero, Greenwood, Garner, Williams.
Referee: Chris Kavanagh (Lancashire).
That was a hell of a seven days for Manchester United. Wins at Partizan Belgrade! Norwich! And Chelsea! Having waited since early March for an away win, that little burst of success registered a perfect ten on the Guardian’s patented London Bus-o-meter™. Not only that, it puts an end to talk of UNITED IN CRISIS! Seeing the last time UNITED were IN CRISIS! was the autumn of 1989, all this suggests UNITED aren’t scheduled to be in CRISIS! again until mid-2049 (English civil wars and global water levels notwithstanding). Phew. Some time and space for Ole Gunnar Solskjaer to do his job in peace, then!
Expectation has been revived by this recent form, not least because Marcus Rashford and Anthony Martial are clicking. United have suddenly remembered how good it feels to score more than one goal in a game. History is also on their side today: they’ve won their last four matches against Bournemouth. United are thus expected to make it four wins on the bounce, and keep climbing back towards their accustomed habitat, the upper echelons of the Premier League table.
Will the Cherries oblige? Eddie Howe’s team haven’t won for over a month, since beating Southampton, against whom, well, y’know. Since then, they’ve been knocked out of the League Cup by Burton Albion, and are currently on a three-match run without a single, solitary goal, stretching back to September 28. On the flip side, they can point to their current position in the top half of the Premier League table, and that both their points and goals-for tallies (13 and 13) are exactly the same as today’s more illustrious visitors. And as United have themselves shown, all bad runs come to an end at some point.
A goal-fest doesn’t, on balance, look likely. But who knows in football? You can thank us for tempting fate when they start flying in at both ends. It’s on!
Kick off: 12.30pm GMT.