Manchester United returned to winning ways on Wednesday night as they secured a comfortable 2-0 victory over Eddie Howe’s Bournemouth in the Premier League. The Red Devils opened the scoring via Chris Smalling in the first half before Romelu Lukaku came off the bench to double the advantage.
Three things we learned:
Romelu Lukaku’s best-ever season: Fantasy lovers would surely have been discontent after Lukaku started from the bench but the Belgian more than made up with his second half strike. Anthony Martial and Paul Pogba orchestrated a brilliant counter-attack in the lead-up to the second goal which involved a lovely first-time finish from Lukaku. With the strike, Lukaku notched his 27th goal of the campaign and this has now registered the best-ever season of his professional career.
Chris Smalling proving a valuable goalscorer: Chris Smalling has come for plenty of criticism for his positioning in the central defensive department but he has excelled with the other side of his game. The Englishman has posed a significant threat from set-pieces of late and his goal against Bournemouth meant that he has scored for three consecutive away league games. Smalling has made the third most number of starts for United (39) this term and he has clearly made himself a regular by benefiting from injury concerns to the likes of Jones, Bailly and Rojo.
Manchester United better off without Alexis Sanchez: With Sanchez on the bench, Martial and Rashford combined on a number of occasions in the frontline and the former spearheaded a wonderful counter-attack for the second goal. Meanwhile, Pogba was also offered more space to capitalise on the left side of the field and his performance was reminiscent of those in January, where he impressed in the 4-3-3 formation. Sanchez has been guilty of losing the possession on countless occasions since his winter switch, and Mourinho has a huge decision to make on the Chilean’s involvement against Tottenham Hotspur in the FA Cup semi-final.