Last night, at the Vitality Stadium, Bournemouth beat Crystal Palace 2-1 thanks to a Junior Stanislas penalty after 87 minutes. Bournemouth continue their good start to the season and sit seventh in the table with 13 points, while Palace are 13th on seven points. There’s a five-point gap between the Eagles and the relegation zone at this early stage.
It was a game in which Bournemouth deserved their win. Crystal Palace were good in parts of the game, and dominated in periods, but it wasn’t enough. The Cherries took the lead after just five minutes; David Brooks scoring the opening goal. With Bournemouth leading, Palace took control of the game either side of the break. They put a lot of pressure on Bournemouth’s defence, but it was largely to no avail. They kept coming and coming, with Bournemouth unable to get out of their own half and keep the ball for any sustained period of time.
Eventually Palace’s dominance paid off and they were level. After 55 minutes, Patrick van Aanholt – in an offside position – was slipped in down the left. He put the ball onto his weaker right foot and rifled a shot into the top corner that Asmir Begovic couldn’t keep out. Palace were level, and they probably deserved it, even if their goal shouldn’t have stood.
But Palace didn’t keep the same level of pressure up after they got the equaliser. They allowed Bournemouth back into the game, and the Cherries looked dangerous once more. Bournemouth almost needed to concede the goal, as it kicked them back into life. They managed to play some better football, and end up being awarded a penalty with just a few minutes to go. Bournemouth had a free kick out wide. The ball was delivered in, but Mamadou Sakho left an elbow flailing in the box, which connected with Jefferson Lerma’s face. He went down, and Mike Dean immediately pointed to the spot and showed Sakho a yellow card. It may have been more clumsy than vicious, but that didn’t matter.
Junior Stanislas – on as a substitute and yet to even touch the ball – stepped up to take it. He gave Wayne Hennessey the eyes and sent him the wrong way as he confidently dispatched the ball down the middle. Bournemouth led 2-1 with just three minutes to play, and they weren’t really in danger of conceding after that. It was another great win for Eddie Howe’s side, who are having a better start than they could have dreamt of. Palace are yet to really get going, which I’m a bit surprised at. I thought they would have done really well this season, but that hasn’t been the case so far.
There are two English clubs in action in the Champions League tonight. Manchester City are in Germany as they play Hoffenheim, with their game set to kick off at 5:55pm, while Manchester United host Valencia, with their game kicking off at 8pm. I haven’t written individual previews of them because I wouldn’t have had the time.
Hoffenheim vs Man City
As Man City travel to Germany, they know they’re in a game that they really could do with winning. After their shock 2-1 defeat by Lyon at the Etihad in the group’s opening game, the Premier League champions can’t afford to slip further behind in the group. Pep Guardiola will be demanding the absolute best from his players, as he always does. They really should be going out and winning tonight’s game, but it won’t be easy.
Hoffenheim haven’t made the best of starts to their season. They got a good 2-2 draw in their opening group game away to Shakhtar Donetsk. But they’re currently 12th in the Bundesliga table after six games. They’ve won just two of those games, with one draw and three losses making up the rest. Defeats against Bayern Munich and RB Leipzig can be explained, but a 2-1 loss against Fortuna Dusseldorf was disappointing. They’ll be ready to fight for a result against City this evening though, and may trouble them. They’ll likely try to sit back, as we see almost everybody do against them.
Getting a result will be a big ask for the side that finished third in the Bundesliga last season; 29 points behind champions Bayern Munich. They’ll certainly believe in themselves though, and will go out there and give absolutely everything they have.
Man United vs Valencia
Man United also find themselves in a game that they could do with winning. They’re not as desperate for points after winning their first game 3-0 away to Young Boys, but with the situation at the club at the moment, a win is badly needed. If they get the win, there will be a bit of pressure relieved from Jose Mourinho. But if they’re beaten, he’ll be in real serious trouble. It mind sound ridiculous to some people, but surely he can’t be far away from getting sacked now. If they were beaten again tonight, he would have to be in serious danger. It’s not just a couple of bad results in a row: it’s everything else that is going on with it.
I’m not convinced Mourinho can turn this one around. It’s his third season at the club, and everybody knows the story of Mourinho’s third season. Usually, he loses the rag after a couple of successful seasons. But that hasn’t been the case, as he can’t be counted as successful in either of his seasons so far.
Sure, he won the Europa League and got Man Utd back into the Champions League. He finished second last season, only behind a Man City side that nobody could have stopped, and got to the FA Cup final. But he was brought in to win league titles and go deep into the Champions League knockout rounds. Not win second-rate competitions and finish second to your fierce rivals. That’s probably a piece for another day. I haven’t written a whole blog hammering Mourinho in a while, so maybe I’ll devote one to him soon! If United lose tonight, it could even be tomorrow!
Even if Man United lose or draw tonight, it wouldn’t be the end of the world for their Champions League group. They would still be in a good position to qualify from it and would have plenty of time to put things right. But they have to win or they’ll be in full-blown crisis mode. That’s if they’re not already there, of course. Things aren’t great at Old Trafford at the moment, which is the most obvious thing anyone ever said. Do these players support Mourinho? If they do, they need to go out there tonight and put in a real performance. If they don’t, well, we’ll be able to tell if they don’t win and don’t look too bothered.
Anyway, we’ll leave it there for now. I’ll do my best to get the team news up for both of those games later on. I won’t be able to watch Man City because I’ll be in work, but I’ll be watching Man United and you can follow that one with me on Twitter. Have a good Tuesday!
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