EPL 2016/17: Manchester United 1-1 Bournemouth, 5 talking points

MANCHESTER, ENGLAND - MARCH 04: Tyrone Mings of AFC Bournemouth (C) celebrates with Steve Cook of AFC Bournemouth (R) after the Premier League match between Manchester United and AFC Bournemouth at Old Trafford on March 4, 2017 in Manchester, England.  (Photo by Julian Finney/Getty Images)
Bournemouth came away with an important point at Old Trafford

Manchester United somehow found a way to remain in sixth place, albeit with a game in hand, following a 1-1 stalemate (that was anything but stale!) against 10-men Bournemouth at Old Trafford.

Marcos Rojo found an opportune moment to score his first Premier League goal, putting United ahead in the 22nd minute while directing a shot from Antonio Valencia on target.

It took Bournemouth just over 15 minutes to come straight back into the game courtesy of a superb Joshua King penalty.

A thrilling first half ended on a feisty note with the sending off of Cherries midfielder Andrew Surman for a second bookable offence – a push on Zlatan Ibrahimovic. Resumption of play saw a scrappy affair being played out for much of the time, with Eddie Howe’s men trying to salvage a precious point while United tried in vain for a winner.

In this piece, we take a look at the five talking points from the game.

#1 Bournemouth create history at Old Trafford

MANCHESTER, ENGLAND - MARCH 04:  Joshua King of AFC Bournemouth scores his sides first goal from the penalty spot during the Premier League match between Manchester United and AFC Bournemouth at Old Trafford on March 4, 2017 in Manchester, England.  (Photo by Shaun Botterill/Getty Images)
Josh King took a brilliant penalty to equalise matters for the Cherries

The visitors took a brilliant point at the Theatre of Dreams and during the course of it, created history by becoming the first Bournemouth side to return to Dorset with a point.

Josh King also earned his place in the Cherries’ record books by scoring a well-taken penalty at the Stretford End, thereby becoming the first ever goalscorer for his club at Old Trafford. Although Bournemouth scored at United’s home ground last season, it was attributable to a Chris Smalling own goal.

Earlier, referee Kevin Friend pointed to the spot after Phil Jones had appeared to bring down Marc Pugh in the box.

The tension in the air was palpable as King - a former Manchester United player - stepped up to take the kick from six yards out. There was no need for the visitors to panic, though, as he struck a rocket to the roof of the net, the equaliser sent the travelling fans into delirious applause.

The draw brings much-needed relief to the Bournemouth camp in 14th place - five adrift of the drop zone - following a torrid start to 2017 in which they have managed just 2 points from 7 outings before today’s fixture.

#2 United fail to capitalise on superb start

MANCHESTER, ENGLAND - MARCH 04:  Paul Pogba of Manchester United reacts to missing a chance during the Premier League match between Manchester United and AFC Bournemouth at Old Trafford on March 4, 2017 in Manchester, England.  (Photo by Shaun Botterill/Getty Images)
Pogba was just one of many Manchester United attackers to not score

Manchester United started off the game in superb fashion and came close on several occasions, especially during the first few minutes of the game.

A series of exchanges and some lovely interplay by the Red Devils in the middle of the park – cue Michael Carrick – offered a host of goal-scoring chances to Paul Pogba, Zlatan, Anthony Martial and Wayne Rooney.

Bournemouth offered space and time to both Zlatan and Pogba, not to mention gilt-edged chances through two horrendous back passes – one by Tyrone Mings and the second by Harry Arter. Indeed it was nothing short of a miracle that the fixture remained goalless for over 20 minutes, considering the kind of superb attacking game United were playing.

It typified Jose Mourinho’s side on the day, as Zlatan failed to turn in from a couple of yards when Artur Boruc had left the posts unguarded.

Earlier, latching on to the end of a lovely through ball, Pogba left Bournemouth defenders in their wake but failed to put the ball into the net, sending it wide by a few inches instead. Rooney and Zlatan made quick exchanges while making the run but neither could shoot on target.

The home side continually penetrated the Cherries’ backline but the only thing lacking was an end product. None of the key players took their chances well and the visitors’ inept defending was not capitalised enough upon either.

#3 Arter Boruc comes up trumps

MANCHESTER, ENGLAND - MARCH 04: Artur Boruc of AFC Bournemouth (R) attempts to punch the ball away while Zlatan Ibrahimovic of Manchester United (L) attempts to head the ball towards goal during the Premier League match between Manchester United and AFC Bournemouth at Old Trafford on March 4, 2017 in Manchester, England.  (Photo by Shaun Botterill/Getty Images)
Boruc was solid in goal and saved a penalty to cap off a fine performance

The Cherries keeper had a stupendous outing and was their undoubted man-of-the-match, keeping the Red Devils out on a host of occasions throughout the game.

Not only did the Pole (no pun intended) deny United’s record summer signing on more than one occasion, but he was also aware and alert enough to make saves from shots off Zlatan, Rooney and Martial as well.

He dove to his left and right, punched, jumped, scampered and fisted away a number of chances as a blazing start to the game by Jose’s men was kept in check – and goalless in favour of Bournemouth –thanks to their keeper, who had little help from those in front of him.

The Cherries goalie dove to his right to make an important save off a Zlatan penalty at a key stage in the game. Boruc had cost Howe’s team at West Brom last weekend with a poor punch – gifting Tony Pulis 3 points and a win, but this was a perfect display of making amends for the cause of the whole.

It was a perfect shot in the arm for a man (and team) lacking in confidence, and under scrutiny for exceptionally poor defending – the Cherries have conceded 52 goals from 27 games including today, second only to Swansea City (57 from 26).

#4 Over-dependency on Zlatan and dropped home points

MANCHESTER, ENGLAND - MARCH 04: Jose Mourinho, Manager of Manchester United looks on after the Premier League match between Manchester United and AFC Bournemouth at Old Trafford on March 4, 2017 in Manchester, England.  (Photo by Shaun Botterill/Getty Images)
Jose Mourinho will be contemplating dropped points

On a night when Zlatan did not record his name on the score-sheet, Manchester United appeared to be lacking in clinical finishing. The absence of Henrikh Mkhitaryan due to a hamstring injury was also felt as the home side were left to rue a series of missed chances.

The Swede has been instrumental in Mourinho’s men going on a 16-game unbeaten streak, restoring confidence and swagger to a side after a not-so-blistering start to the season. Five games in 16 days – one of which led to the Red Devils’ first title under Jose (ex-Community Shield) - for the Scandinavian international at the age of 35 has underlined his importance at United.

Zlatan did come close on a few occasions but what underscored a poor outing for the towering man was a missed penalty, besides a couple of unpleasant off-the-ball incidents.

Likewise, Armenian Mkhitaryan’s finishing prowess was dearly missed as United continue to languish in sixth position. This over-reliance on two key men cost United two points on a day when a routine win was the general expectation.

This was also United’s seventh home draw of the season – following dropped points against Stoke, Burnley, Hull, Liverpool, Arsenal and West Ham. Come the end of the season, if United fail to qualify for the Champions League, Jose and his men will be counting the cost of these draws at Old Trafford.

#5 Refereeing horror show mars a surprisingly foul-tempered outing

MANCHESTER, ENGLAND - MARCH 04: Marcus Rashford of Manchester United (L) is shown a yellow card by referee Kevin Friend during the Premier League match between Manchester United and AFC Bournemouth at Old Trafford on March 4, 2017 in Manchester, England.  (Photo by Julian Finney/Getty Images)
Kevin Friend had a forgettable outing at Old Trafford

An expected routine win for the home side given their run of form turned into something else entirely at the Theatre of Dreams and was punctuated by glaring refereeing mistakes.

Kevin Friend – the official for the game – failed to spot Zlatan pushing Tyrone Mings during the first half but his assistant caught it. Friend, however, did not deem it fit to punish the Swede for the offence but the latter’s inability to stop talking got him into the referee’s book for dissent.

Towards the closing stages of the first half, Mings came in the way of Rooney’s run into the penalty box, leading to both players ending up on the turf. An onrushing Zlatan also tumbled on the grass, courtesy of Rooney’s legs. What followed though was foolish from all parties concerned.

Rooney was up and about and in trying to stop him, Mings jumped over Zlatan but caught the latter behind the ear with his boot. A corner in the ensuing seconds saw the Swedish biggie jump high to get the ball, but also offer retribution to Mings by slyly elbowing him in the face.

Both offences should have been punished with straight reds but instead, it was Surman who was sent off for the far less deplorable offence of pushing Zlatan (it is a mystery how the big man fell to the ground, though, given his size and strength, but that is a discussion for another day).

What was even more laughable is that Friend brandished a yellow to Surman without remembering that it was his second booking. Surman – whose first yellow was certainly debatable – was finally shown off the pitch with a red only after about two minutes and several reminders from Rooney and co.

This wasn’t the end of Friend’s poor showing either. He failed to award United a free kick at the edge of the box after a foul and was also inconsistent by not booking Harry Arter a second time for a clumsy challenge.

Zlatan’s offence could face retrospective action for his elbow on Mings, though, and Bournemouth will be banking on the FA to restore a semblance of faith in decision-making.

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Edited by Staff Editor
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