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English Premier League

Bournemouth 0 – 1 Manchester United

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Bournemouth 0 - 1 Manchester United

Bournemouth 0 -1 Manchester United. Casemiro’s stunning overhead kick edged Manchester United a step closer to a top-four finish as they secured a narrow Premier League victory over Bournemouth.

The Red Devils need just one point from their final two games against Chelsea and Fulham to secure Champions League football at Old Trafford next season.

In a game lacking in clear-cut opportunities a piece of magic from Casemiro proved the difference at the Vitality Stadium.

The Brazilian midfielder picked up a beautifully weighted pass from Christian Eriksen and turned away from Marcos Senesi to acrobatically hammer home.

Without their top goal scorer this season, Marcus Rashford, who was absent from the squad with illness and missed the opportunity to equal his best tally of 17 goals in a single campaign, United struggled to mount regular goal threats.

But Casemiro’s ninth-minute strike, combined with Liverpool’s draw against Aston Villa, were enough to move United one point away from guaranteeing a top-four spot.

With Liverpool trailing for much of their match against Villa, United’s win looked like it could be enough to secure Erik ten Hag’s side their place in next season’s Champions League.

But a late Roberto Firmino equaliser means United must now wait until Thursday at the earliest to ensure the return of Europe’s top competition to Old Trafford after a season-long absence.

Meanwhile, as Red Devils fans also await news on who their new owner will be, there can be few complaints from supporters about the job Ten Hag has done.

Winning the Carabao Cup, preparing to face Manchester City in the FA Cup final at Wembley on 3 June and on the brink of securing a top-four place is an impressive feat for the Dutch manager’s first foray into the Premier League.

While rumours are circulating about the future of long-serving goalkeeper David de Gea, the result at Anfield also means the Spanish shot-stopper has done enough to secure the Golden Glove, having kept 16 clean sheets this term.

All United’s achievements come despite a poor away record – they have only earned eight points from nine top-flight away matches in 2023, and equalled the club record for most Premier League away defeats in a season (eight).

As was the case against Wolves last week, the Red Devils at times lacked urgency against Bournemouth with Dominic Solanke twice going close and David Brooks forcing a fingertip save from De Gea.

Bruno Fernandes saw a shot deflected wide and a second powerful effort saved by Neto but in Rashford’s absence United’s potency in front of goal was lacking.

Wout Weghorst hit a sweet strike late on but it was punched away by the Bournemouth keeper, meaning the Dutch striker’s hunt for a first Premier League goal for the club continues.

Many pundits and fans had written Bournemouth off before the start of the season, tipping them to return straight back to the Championship.

But manager Gary O’Neil has done a fine job, meaning a relatively flat match at the Vitality did not matter as he has already seen his side move well clear of the relegation battle.

Bournemouth sit 14th in the league and face relegation-threatened Everton in their last game of the season at Goodison Park.

The Cherries have, however, conceded 70 Premier League goals in 2022-23, equalling their highest-ever figure from 2018-19 and O’Neil will have to solve those defensive frailties to ensure his side progress next season.

But they did well to limit United to just one goal on Saturday and spurned their own opportunities to level with Kieffer Moore’s strike producing a fine stop from De Gea.

With their safety confirmed Bournemouth will now look towards building a squad that can further extend their stay in the top flight next year.

The home fans also celebrated the return of Brooks to the starting 11 – for the first time in 598 days after he was diagnosed with stage two Hodgkin’s lymphoma in October 2021.

source – BBC

English Premier League

Arsenal 4 – 1 Newcastle United

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Arsenal 4 - 1 Newcastle United

Arsenal underlined their Premier League title credentials as they recorded their sixth consecutive win with a dominant display against Newcastle.

The result sees Mikel Arteta’s side sit two points behind leaders Liverpool and a point behind second-placed Manchester City at the top of the table.

The outcome of this contest appeared inevitable from the moment visiting defender Sven Botman turned the ball in after Gabriel’s header from a corner had been well saved by Newcastle goalkeeper Loris Karius.

While there was an element of bad luck to that for the Dutch defender, who simply could not get out of the way as his Newcastle team-mate Tino Livramento tried to clear, there was little else about Arsenal’s performance that was owed to good fortune.

The Gunners’ intensity and fluent passing repeatedly carved Eddie Howe’s side apart, particularly down the Magpies’ left flank with Livramento and Botman enduring difficult evenings.

Kai Havertz swept in a deserved second shortly after, with Gabriel Martinelli making the most of indecision in the Newcastle defence to cut the ball back into the German forward’s path.

With Arsenal continuing to press, Bukayo Saka twisted and turned Livramento one way and then another before dispatching a left-foot shot into the bottom left corner add to the hosts’ advantage.

Arteta also enjoyed the luxury of being able to take off his captain Martin Odegaard, Havertz and Saka well before full-time after Jakub Kiwior’s effort deflected past the helpless Karius from another Declan Rice corner.

Newcastle, who remain eighth in the table, managed a late consolation courtesy of Joe Willock’s looping header, but there was little else for the visiting supporters to cheer.

-BBC

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English Premier League

AFC Bournemouth 0 – 1 Manchester City

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AFC Bournemouth 0 - 1 Manchester City

Manchester City moved a point behind Premier League leaders Liverpool with a hard-fought victory over Bournemouth at Vitality Stadium.

City started slowly but took the lead midway through the first half when Phil Foden steered home after Erling Haaland’s shot was saved by Neto.

The visitors dominated the rest of the half but were fortunate not to be pegged back early in the second, Marcus Tavernier scuffing a shot into the ground from Antoine Semenyo’s cross before shooting wide after fine work from Dominic Solanke.

Solanke had a header punched off the line by Ederson as Bournemouth continued to apply pressure, while Haaland had another shot saved by Neto with a quarter of an hour remaining.

Second-half substitute Enes Unal headed agonisingly wide in stoppage time for the hosts, as City held on to consolidate second place ahead of crucial games at home to Manchester United and away to Liverpool in early March.

Bournemouth, now without a win in their last seven league matches, stay eight points above the relegation zone but drop a place to 14th.

Champions get job done

Pep Guardiola’s team were made to work hard for three points against Brentford on Tuesday, and they were perhaps a little fortunate to get the win from a testing encounter at Vitality Stadium.

Haaland got the all-important goal against the Bees and the Norwegian should have given the visitors the lead here, sending a right-footed shot off target after running on to Foden’s exquisite cushioned pass.

Haaland was denied by Neto midway through the first half, but Foden – who has now scored in his past five appearances against the Cherries – was on hand to guide home his 16th goal of the season. That is his joint-most in a single campaign.

John Stones, operating in a more advanced role than usual, was outstanding in the first half in particular, repeatedly marauding upfield and almost setting up Rodri for a second City goal not long after Foden’s opener.

The visitors rode their luck after half-time as Bournemouth pushed for an equaliser, with a combination of wasteful finishing by the hosts and smart goalkeeping from Ederson securing City a hard-earned three points.

City have won all 14 of their Premier League games against the Cherries – the best 100% record by one team against another in top-flight history.

Their next five league matches – all against teams currently in the top seven – will go a long way to defining their campaign.

-BBC

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English Premier League

Manchester United 1 – 2 Fulham

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Manchester United 1 - 2 Fulham

Manchester United were given a harsh reality check at Old Trafford as Alex Iwobi’s injury-time effort gave Fulham only their second Old Trafford victory since 1963.

Four days after new co-owner Sir Jim Ratcliffe spoke of United attempting to knock Manchester City and Liverpool off their perch at the top of the English game, they suffered a major blow to their hopes of Champions League qualification.

Without injured striker Rasmus Hojlund, the hosts were ineffective in attack until the final minute of normal time, when Harry Maguire seemed to have rescued a point for the hosts.

But Iwobi had the final say deep into nine minutes of stoppage time, restoring an advantage initially given to them by Nigeria defender Calvin Bassey, who lashed home the loose ball after his header from a Fulham corner had been blocked by team-mate Timothy Castagne.

The result ended a run of 11 Premier League away games without a win for the west London outfit. Prior to this contest, only Sheffield United had a worse top-flight away record this term.

Neither the defeat nor, more importantly, the performance, will give anyone the belief United will achieve Ratcliffe’s lofty aims any time soon.

A sobering reality
There have been a lot of bold claims out of Old Trafford this week.

Ratcliffe has spoken of challenging for major trophies, while Ten Hag has outlined how he and the new co-ownership are aligned in their thinking and the overall direction is positive.

There is nothing like a miserable grey, cold, wet Manchester day to add a large dollop of reality to the situation United find themselves in.

With injury consigning in-form Hojlund to the directors’ box, Marcus Rashford was forced to plough a lone furrow up front and made little impact. Ten Hag gave 19-year-old Omari Forson his first start rather than bring in underperforming £82m Brazilian Antony, while Victor Lindelof filled in at left-back in the absence of Luke Shaw, who is set to miss the remainder of the campaign with a muscle problem.

The performance did not smack of a side capable of securing Champions League football next season, which Ratcliffe has made a priority, let alone threatening Manchester City, Liverpool and Arsenal, who are a long way ahead on this evidence.

Ineos head of sport – and new United football club director – Sir Dave Brailsford was at Old Trafford to see United roar back from 2-0 down to beat Aston Villa on Boxing Day, one of two occasions this season when they had rolled back the years to produce a comeback of thrilling defiance.

When Maguire pounced in the final minute of normal time, it seemed another might be on the cards. United hardly deserved parity. Other than a first-half Diogo Dalot shot that flicked off the outside of a post, Marcus Rashford’s angled effort that Leno saved and a Maguire header that sailed over the bar, they had done little of any effectiveness around the Fulham box.

As it turned out, it was to be Fulham who had the final word. Today, there was no papering over the Old Trafford cracks.

A famous Fulham win
It is almost 12 months since Fulham’s visit to this stadium for an FA Cup tie that ended in chaos as manager Marco Silva and two of his players were sent off, and what was shaping up to be a famous victory turned into a controversial defeat.

While the visitors mercifully avoided any repeat of that discipline breakdown, they were forced to endure more frustration in a first half they dominated without being able to take one of the numerous chances that came their way.

In exploiting the space available in front of the United backline in transition, Fulham were given the freedom to get clear sights of goal.

Iwobi had two opportunities, the second in particular he should have done better with. Andre Onana saved from Rodrigo Muniz and former United midfielder Andreas Pereira. The Cameroon keeper probably earned his luck in the first instance, when the rebound struck Sasa Lukic at close range and the ball bounced inches wide.

Muniz, aiming to become the fourth Fulham player – after Louis Saha, Collins John and Manor Solomon – to score in four successive Premier League games, rolled Lindelof in the penalty area, then fired against the outside of a post with Onana beaten.

At the interval, the fear among the visiting contingent must have been that, after being so flat for so long, their hosts had to improve.

But they didn’t and Bassey lashed home his first Fulham goal with a decisiveness lacking from United’s play.

Even after Maguire’s leveller, Fulham would not be denied as Iwobi finally found the target to give the Cottagers a famous win.

-BBC

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