Manchester United – temporarily at least – moved into the top four with a clinical five-star showing after an early scare against Eddie Howe’s free-falling AFC Bournemouth.
It’s now sixteen unbeaten for Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s in-form side.
Junior Stanislas gave the struggling Cherries a shock fifteenth minute lead but it proved only a minor aberration as the rampant Reds raced into a 3-1 interval lead through our prolific, free-scoring triumvirate. Josh King pegged United back, but Mason Greenwood’s second – our fourth – and a customary piece of magic from Bruno Fernandes completed an impressive rout.
This United side are a rampaging force to be reckoned with at the moment and a joy to watch.
Here are our player ratings from red hot United’s five star showing.
David de Gea – 5
Had to do better with the Bournemouth opener as a keeper of his quality should never get beaten at his near post from there. Continued his poor record from penalties but redeemed himself with a couple of decent and solid saves. Fortunately, his mistake didn’t cost us and the strength of United’s attacking players will take him out of the spotlight.
Aaron Wan – Bissaka – 6
Could have done better for the Stanislas goal but almost grabbed an assist for the third game running when Marcus Rashford turned in a cross only to be flagged offside. Apart from his early blemish, United’s Mr Consistent had another solid game if perhaps not quite as adventurous in recent weeks. Surely a contender for our player of the season.
Victor Lindelof – 5
Too weak for the Stanislas goal as his lack of pace was exposed and he missed the header that directly led to it. Got caught out on more than one occasion and had his worst showing since the restart. Got taken off at half-time in place of Eric Bailly. Lindelof can be a huge worry at times.
Harry Maguire – 5
Culpable for another goal as his positioning was wrong and he got nutmegged by the relatively unknown Stanislas. His passing was off, his distribution poor and looked strangely nervous. A player who’s definitely improved United but also has a mistake in him. He did recover well and was in cruise control by the end but his shortcomings were exposed.
Luke Shaw – 7
The best of the bunch at the back by a considerable distance, this was Shaw’s sixteenth consecutive start. Did little wrong, got forward well and seemed ever-present at times. Could have scored himself but, on a day, when United’s back four looked shaky, Shaw can be exonerated. Never seems to quite get the credit he deserves but it was another solid outing.
Nemanja Matic – 6
A mixed bag for Matic. His loose pass led to the penalty with a horrible ball that Eric Bailly handled, but he popped up to get the assist for Mason Greenwood’s second. Struggled to set the tempo and didn’t look as sharp or as fresh as he has done in recent weeks. Got substituted for Fred midway through the second half.
Paul Pogba – 8
Pogba generally went un-noticed but that doesn’t mean he had a poor game. Dovetailed well and linked with Fernandes almost telepathically at times. Deserved a goal for his performance and should have had one in the second half, going closest to scoring with a free-kick. Fernandes has taken the pressure off Pogba and he’s a man reborn as a result now that he doesn’t have to do everything. Unassumingly effective.
Mason Greenwood – 9
Two stunning finishes from a stunning player in the best form of his young career. This kid is a once-in-a-lifetime talent with the world at his feet and his two goals came at a time when United needed them most. Terrorised Bournemouth and never gave them a minute’s peace. A generational talent, the comparisons with Robin van Persie are unavoidable. Both of his finishes were belters, two moments of absolute quality and he would have got a standing ovation had there been fans at Old Trafford. We’re watching the emergence of something very special indeed.
Bruno Fernandes – 9
A goal, two more assists and should scored another with a lob. Trampled the Cherries into the turf and pulled the strings again. Perhaps drifted in and out of the game a little but who cares when he continually makes the difference. He’s now been directly involved in more Premier League goals than he’s played games in the competition. Imagine where we’d be had we signed this man in the summer. 13 games, seven goals and six assists. It’s not just his ability, it’s his attitude and elite mentality. Had Bournemouth bent double and everything United did went through him – again. Magic. Not bad for a man supposedly on one leg.
Marcus Rashford – 7
Looked to have shaken off his rustiness with a well taken penalty – his 20th goal of an impressive season – and should have claimed an assist when he set up Fernandes. Had a goal disallowed for offside and forced a couple of good saves from the Bournemouth keeper. Another to have flashes of brilliance but then quieter moments, he put a shift in and looked a lot brighter today than he has of late. Given a rest with the game won, replaced by Ighalo for the final minutes.
Anthony Martial – 8
£50 million down the drain, Tony Martial scores again! Martial had been on the periphery but exploded into life with a goal of the season contender – his 20th too – with an exquisite finish shortly before half-time. Now his best goalscoring season at Old Trafford, Martial led the line well and helped to take the tally of our front three beyond that of Liverpool’s much vaunted triumvirate. Another to be given a rest late on, having added another worldie to his growing collection of screamers. Superb again.
Eric Bailly – for Lindelof HT – 4
Replaced the Swede at the interval but did not have a good cameo. Perhaps a little unlucky to have a penalty given when the ball hit what looked to be his shoulder, but why didn’t he just clear it? His body shape was all wrong and he gifted Bournemouth a couple of chance. I do like Bailly but you can’t rely on him and he’s not going to get in the team playing like this.
Fred – for Matic 67′ – 7
Offered United a bit more mobility and impetus as the Reds looked to add to their lead. Kept the team ticking over and had a couple of decent efforts. Used the ball well and did little wrong.
Daniel James – for Greenwood 75′ – 5
Didn’t really get in the game, made a couple of darting runs but was wasteful. There’s a good player in this lad but his IQ isn’t quite there. Still looking for his first league goal since August
Juan Mata & Odion Ighalo – for Rashford, Martial 80′ – N/A
No rating as both came on late with the game won. Got minutes and a run out.
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer – 9
Kept faith with the team that has served him well over the last couple of weeks and could be seen laying into his men during a drinks break. United kept pushing for more which was pleasing, and although it wasn’t our best day defensively you can’t blame him for that. Up for Manager of the Month, Solskjaer kept the winning momentum going, made the subs at the right time and got a vital victory.