Manchester United solidified their place in the top four with victory over struggling Bournemouth on Tuesday evening, with Erik ten Hag’s side strolling to a 3-0 victory for what was their fourth successive Premier League win.
Summer signing Casemiro had got the hosts underway at Old Trafford with a well-taken strike midway through the first half following Christian Eriksen’s delightful free-kick, before Luke Shaw doubled that advantage after the break having rounded off a sweeping team move.
Despite having to withstand a brief rally from the Cherries, the Red Devils made sure of the points just minutes from time as Marcus Rashford continued his hot streak in front of goal, netting for the 12th time this season from close range.
Although the margin of victory may have been rather comfortable, Ten Hag admitted that it had not been the “best game” from his side, with the home side having rode their luck at times on the night.
One man who endured a shaky return to the starting lineup was captain Harry Maguire, with the England international something of a surprise inclusion alongside Victor Lindelof, with Raphael Varane dropping to the bench.
Although the £80m man did show signs of promise as he won 100% of his ground duels against Gary O’Neil’s men, the 29-year-old did appear distinctly uncomfortable at times, having at one stage produced a slack, errant pass that drifted out for a corner.
That epitomised what was ‘not a wholly convincing‘ display from the former Leicester City brute – as per Manchester Evening News’ Samuel Luckhurst – with it easy to see why he has made just four top-flight starts this term.
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Maguire was not the only villain in that win, however, with teammate Anthony Martial having also been something of a “no-show” in his centre-forward berth, according to the aforementioned Luckhurst.
The fleet-footed Frenchman notably missed a gilt-edged chance to get on the scoresheet after failing to make adequate contact on Casemiro’s stunning cross, with the striker seeing his header agonisingly flash wide of the post.
That was arguably one of few moments in which the 27-year-old was involved in proceedings as he made just 25 touches in his 69-minute outing, before being withdrawn after sustaining a potential injury issue.
The former Monaco man also lost possession on six occasions and won just one of his five total duels, having unsurprisingly recorded a rather meagre match rating of just 6.4, as per Sofascore, with that the worst of any player in Ten Hag’s side.
With United seemingly on the hunt for a new centre-forward, Martial has hardly done himself any favours with what was another abject performance, having also missed a clear-cut opening in the recent win over Wolverhampton Wanderers.
The marksman’s reputation had arguably been enhanced in the early months of the campaign as both the club and supporters alike eagerly awaited his return from injury, although on the evidence of recent games that faith in his ability to perform consistently may well have been misguided.