3 Premier League games unbeaten, with 7 points gained in that time. I feel like I’ve already said this about three times this season, but are Manchester United ACTUALLY finding their feet in the Premier League this time around?
If the good run is to continue, the Red Devils will have to get something away at one of the league’s surprise packages this season, Bournemouth. Eddie Howe has got his side playing some irresistible football as of late, and thanks to their excellent start they sit 6th on 20 points, just one behind Tottenham.
The Cherries’ attacking prowess this season has been a delight to watch, with Callum Wilson and former United man Josh King scoring goals for fun, as well as summer signing David Brooks becoming pretty much un-droppable with his recent performances, with the Welsh youngster netting three times so far this season after his £12m move from Sheffield United.
However, special mention really needs to go to Ryan Fraser. The Scot has been in scintillating form this campaign, creating more clear cut chances than any player in the league, as well as bagging 3 goals and 5 assists for his side. If United are to stop this pacy Bournemouth attack, special attention needs to go to Fraser.
Don’t let Bournemouth’s attacking intent fool you; they’re also an extremely good defensive unit. Bar their freak 4-0 loss to Burnley, the Cherries have only conceded 8 goals in 9 Premier League games.
United’s Last Outing
The 2-1 win over Everton was, to cut a long story short, not a particularly good game of football. The link up play between Paul Pogba, Juan Mata and man of the match Anthony Martial was the main positive, as well as Martial’s superb curling effort for the second goal. Furthermore, for the second week in a row I have to mention how well Victor Lindelof played. The Swede has been one of the first names on United fans’ lips when it comes to criticising the players, but his showings as of late have really made him one of the first names on the team sheet instead. If he keeps up this level of performance and a new central defender is brought in to play alongside him in January, then we may be seeing the end of United’s defensive woes.
Speaking of defensive woes however…Chris Smalling. A two time Premier League winner. An 8 (eight!) year Premier League veteran. So why, oh why, is he going to ground like that when he can easily just see Sigurdsson out of play? The mind boggles, it really does.
The Reds have Jesse Lingard back in contention this week, but Marouane Fellaini and Diogo Dalot will miss out. Scott McTominay and Antonio Valencia will likely face late fitness tests if they are to feature.
As for Bournemouth, Simon Francis remains out with a groin strain, but Josh King may return after missing out last week.
I actually got this right last week! Let’s hope that keeps up. I can see the same XI from last week (so Lukaku will miss out again), but if anyone is going to drop out it will likely be Fred. He looks really eager to get on the ball whenever he plays, but this isn’t always a good thing. He overcommits quite often and doesn’t always pass the ball at the right time.
As for the score, I’m going for another 2-1 United win. We concede against teams who aren’t good at attacking these days, so it’s inevitable that Bournemouth will get one. That being said, I expect the Pogba x Martial combo to pull us through once again.
Predicted United Line-Up: De Gea; Young, Smalling, Lindelof, Shaw; Matic, Fred, Pogba; Mata, Rashford, Martial.
Predicted Bournemouth Line-Up: Begovic; Smith, Cook, Ake, Daniels; Brooks, Lerma, Cook, Fraser; King, Wilson.