AFC Bournemouth vs Manchester United Preview
|Image from MrFixitsTips.co.uk|
Anthony Martial starred last Sunday as Manchester United narrowly beat Everton at home 2-1 with goals from Pogba and Martial, sealing United the three points despite a Gylfi Sigurdsson penalty with roughly 15 minutes to go. Now Manchester United must build on this win with a trip down to Bournemouth for Saturday lunchtime. This fixture has usually been an exciting affair with sixteen goals in the last six games and although Bournemouth have had some luck in December 2015 with a 2-1 victory against United in their debut season, Jose Mourinho has an unbeaten record as Manchester United manager against Bournemouth (W4, D1). This could be another exciting game with both teams aiming for three points and progress further up the table.
|Image from The Daily Mail Online|
While Manchester United’s disappointing start has left them eighth after ten games and with only three clean sheets this season (Young Boys 0-3, Burnley 0-2 and Valencia 0-0) along with 20 goals conceded in all competitions, Bournemouth’s excellent start has rewarded the Cherries with a sixth place position and a Quarter Finals position in the Carabao Cup. Eddie Howe’s side boast an average of just under two goals a game and the fifth highest league goal tally behind only Man City, Chelsea, Arsenal and Liverpool with the Reds only ahead by one goal and scoring three or more goals in five games so far in all competitions. This is due to the white hot form of both Callum Wilson (5) and Josh King (4), with Wilson’s tally higher than any United player in the league this season so far. For these reasons, this match will pose a more difficult threat than first thought.
Jose Mourinho expects his side to win this game sumptuously as he claims that United have the ability to reach the Top Four and in doing this they must win every non-Big Six game like this one. The Portuguese manager is guaranteed to be on the touchline following the dismissal of the FA charge concerning the Newcastle game and the alleged abusive language. He is certain to have both a fit Alexis Sanchez and Jesse Lingard ready for action. While they were on the bench last game, Jose admitted they were not quite ready for action and so Sanchez was an unused sub and Lingard came on for the last few moments of the game. There was no news about Dalot, Fellaini or McTominay but it is assumed that the trio are all still injured. Ashley Young played well against Everton and is unlikely to lose his place to Club Captain, Antonio Valencia who is still pushing for his first start since the uninspiring draw against Valencia. As for Bournemouth, Josh King has sat out the last two games following an ankle injury and is unlikely to start but may make an appearance at some point during the game. Simon Francis is also a doubt with his groin injury sidelining him for the time-being.
|Sanchez and Lingard could both feature against Bournemouth
Image from Ronaldo.com
As for other team issues, Nemanja Matic had another poor game in the Everton win, the worst moment being a yellow card after trying to stop Sigurdsson and being flipped over by the Icelandic playmaker, giving away a dangerous freekick. Regardless, he will still start as he is an excellent team player and adds the height United are missing with Fellaini injured. Lukaku on the other hand, is a more complex situation. Does he start ahead of Rashford? The England international was wasteful against Everton and failed to score for United for the fifth game running. For Lukaku however, the drought lasts longer as the Belgian last scored for United against Watford on the 15th of September. Even when Lukaku came on, he had a few chances and failed to take them against his former club. The Belgian does have a decent record against the Cherries, scoring seven goals in six appearances including four in one game in the 6-3 victory for Everton in the 2016/17 season. It is likely that if Lukaku starts, he will be asked to do the things Rashford does well – running down the channels and taking on defenders, something we haven’t seen a lot of from Lukaku lately. This seems like the perfect game for him to bounce back from and could be the revitalisation he needs this season.
|Image from The Telegraph|
Speaking of revitalisation, there is only so long any United supporter can go before talking about the rising form of Anthony Martial, scoring four league goals in three games against Newcastle (1), Chelsea (2) and Everton (1) as well as winning the penalty against the Toffees. The former Monaco man has scored 41 Manchester United goals and assisted 26 times since his deadline day move in 2015, being directly involved with a goal every two games at the age of only 22. He is yet to score against Bournemouth but aims to score for the fourth league game running for the first time in his United career and truly show why he is worth a big contract at Old Trafford.
United have the class to overwhelm an admittedly in form Bournemouth side but it is doubtful whether retaining a clean sheet is possible against such white-hot firepower and against what remains to be a fractured back line. This should be an exciting game with a fair few goals and United should and must win the game.
Predicted Lineup: De Gea, Young (c), Smalling, Lindelof, Shaw, Matic, Fred, Pogba, Mata, Martial, Lukaku
PREDICTED SCORE: 3-1 to United