Ander Herrera makes case for FA Cup semi-final start with powerful display against AFC Bournemouth

by Leo Nieboer

Ander Herrera produced a battling display during Manchester United’s 2-0 win over AFC Bournemouth to stake a real claim for a place in the starting XI for the FA Cup semi-final with Tottenham Hotspur this Saturday.

The Spaniard, deployed in behind Marouane Fellaini and Paul Pogba, made a series of important interceptions and blocks in the middle to stave off Bournemouth’s counterattacking approach.

And he crowned the display with a defence-splitting pass through to Jesse Lingard, who teed up Chris Smalling for a tap-in after 28 minutes.

Herrera’s numbers from the game reflect just how crucial he was to a controlled display, and indeed show why he needs to start on Sunday.

It was strange to see United without the ballast that is Nemanja Matic, but Herrera – the club’s player of the season last year – reminded everyone of what he can do with a slightly more scattered yet doubly tenacious showing at the base of midfield.

He was everywhere, cleverly pinching the ball off Bournemouth players before they could break the lines and moving the ball invitingly forward, bringing a sense of urgency which lacked against West Bromwich Albion that gave United the platform from which to create chances.

Mourinho left him out at Wembley in January and United were overrun as a result; he cannot afford to make the same mistake on Saturday.

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