Marcus Rashford and Paul Pogba Shine as Manchester United Ease Past Bournemouth
Manchester United defeated Bournemouth 4-1 at Old Trafford in the final Premier League match of 2018. Marcus Rashford and Paul Pogba were at their sparkling best and Nemanja Matic gave them the freedom to venture into Bournemouth territory. There’s a joyful atmosphere around Old Trafford with Ole Gunnar Solskjaer in charge.
Marcus Rashford set the tone for Manchester United’s day at the office. He left Nathan Ake and Diego Rico trailing in his wake to square a pass for Paul Pogba. This moment was reminiscent of Manchester United’s days under Sir Alex Ferguson. Throughout the match, the crowd regularly applauded Rashford for his tricks and for his determination to win the ball back.
Paul Pogba now looks like the player that won four Serie A titles and the World Cup. He’s regularly making runs from the centre of the pitch into the heart of the opposition penalty area. In these runs, he’ll often receive a pass and smash the ball past the goalkeeper. These runs were nonexistent under Jose Mourinho except in the memorable 3-2 victory over Manchester City at the Etihad Stadium. This Manchester United team is now built around Paul Pogba, and the Frenchman seems to enjoy this responsibility.
Paul Pogba and Marcus Rashford took centre stage, but Nemanja Matic deserves praise as well. The Serbian intercepted passes and used his strength to diffuse multiple Bournemouth attacks. Most impressively, he became a threat while in possession of the ball. He consistently clipped the ball into the channels so that Marcus Rashford and Anthony Martial could cross the ball without any pressure. Further, he weighted his passes to perfection. While Matic looked exhausted under Jose Mourinho, he’s found his energy again under Ole Gunnar Solskjaer.
Areas for Improvement
Manchester United’s performance still had a few blemishes. The Red Devils struggled to win aerial duels in defensive areas of the pitch. Bournemouth often launched long throw-ins into the Manchester United penalty area and created uncertainty. Additionally, corner kicks and long diagonal passes kept Victor Lindelof busy. Ultimately, Nathan Ake planted a header past David de Gea to prevent Manchester United from recording a first clean sheet under Ole Gunnar Solskjaer. As well, Eric Bailly received a red card for some rash and unnecessary tackles. Solskjaer will miss the Ivorian over the next few weeks.
Solskjaer’s Manchester United will travel to Newcastle United in the Premier League. The interim boss will believe that he can claim a fourth straight victory, especially with the likes of Romelu Lukaku and Alexis Sanchez eager to impress. Then, Manchester United will play Reading in the FA Cup at Old Trafford. Solskjaer would boost his chances of becoming the permanent manager by winning the historic competition. He will almost certainly field a strong team in that match.