Bournemouth beat Manchester United 2-1 on Saturday night, in what is arguably the biggest result in their history. It is an incredible achievement for Eddie Howe’s side, who were plying their trade in the Conference less than 10 years ago.
A wonderful story, but the result was only the second most incredible thing on the night.
It was eclipsed by the performance of Harry Arter for the Cherries.
The Republic of Ireland international has made a big difference to Bournemouth since his return from long term injury, and was impressive in last week’s shock victory over struggling Chelsea.
Arter played in central midfield, and was magnificent from the outset. His work rate, ability to break up play, composure in possession and incisive passing was a thorn in United’s side throughout the 90 minutes. Indeed, Squawka Football revealed in the second half that Arter had completed 100% of his passes in the game.
Arter managed to produce this performance after immeasurable personal grief. Arter and his partner, lost their baby daughter at birth just days before the game.
News broke of Arter’s loss before the game, and Arter and his teammates wore black armbands in recognition of this tragic news.
Arter was growing visibly emotional late in the game, and Eddie Howe sensibly substituted him. The 25 year old was awarded a touching standing ovation by the Bournemouth fans and shared an emotional embrace with Howe when he was taken off.
After the game, Howe was immensely proud of his midfielder’s performance;
“It’s been a really tough week for Harry and his family,” the manager said. “Life has a way of throwing these things at people and families, and it’s been a hugely emotional week for him.”
It subsequently emerged that Arter was given a standing ovation by his teammates in the dressing room after the game.
Arter himself explained to the ‘Cherry Player’ why he chose to play;
“I just felt that coming in and trying to take my mind off things would make it a little bit easier, and my family would want me to play.”
“I said before the game that one reason I wanted to play was to dedicate the game to everyone associated with my family – my family that are here and not here," he explained.
Arter has made 158 appearances and scored 24 goals since signing for Bournemouth in 2010, and is a fan favourite.
Arter’s man of the match performance was commended by supporters and pundits alike, and Arter was grateful for the support of everyone at the club;
“The support of everyone at the club is why I felt like I wanted to play as well. It’s such a nice club to come into every day; I am so close to everyone.
"Thanks to everyone associated with the club, even up to the owner and everyone behind the scenes as well as the players," Arter said.
They have been unbelievable for me this week and made things a tad easier. I am sure my partner at home will be really proud too. It’s a game that we can look back on with a lot of pride," he added.
Arter’s recent performance can’t have gone unnoticed by Martin O’ Neill, and Arter is the clever, composed midfielder that Ireland are crying out for. He is producing week in, week out for Bournemouth, who seem to have found their feet in the Premier League.
Arter made his comeback in the Capital One Cup against Liverpool, and was Bournemouth’s stand out player on the night. Ireland fans often complain that Glenn Whelan and James McCarthy are too alike to play in central midfield together, and many believe that McCarthy performs at a higher level without Whelan.
Arter could be the answer to this problem. He can both break up play and create attacks. He has an eye for a pass, and can chip in with goals too. Whilst it might be too close to the Euro’s to force his way in to the starting eleven, Arter is surely a viable option for the bench.
Arter could fulfil any of the three roles occupied by Whelan, McCarthy and Hendrick, and he surely merits a place on the plane to France next summer, despite currently only having one cap to his name.
After Saturday night, one thing is for sure; his professionalism and determination cannot be questioned.