Manchester United will take on Bournemouth this Saturday at the Vitality Stadium.
Bournemouth finally won a match after 11 weeks, stunning the defending champions Chelsea with a 1-0 victory at Stamford Bridge last Saturday. English striker Glenn Murray provided the single goal for Eddie Howe’s side eight minutes before full-time to shock Jose Mourinho and the rest of Stamford Bridge, snatching the three points from the away match.
Meanwhile, Manchester United missed the chance to take over the league leadership as it settled for yet another goalless draw, this time against West Ham United, at Old Trafford also last Saturday. It was the Red Devils’ fourth drawn match in their last six outings, dropping them to fourth place in the overall standings behind Leicester City, Arsenal, and Manchester City. If they had won at least two of those draws, they would be sitting comfortably on top of the league table by now.
Van Gaal will provide an update at his pre-match press conference on Friday but, as of now, Chris Smalling and Matteo Darmian are the latest additions to a growing United injury list after both were hurt in the Volkswagen Arena defeat. Phil Jones, Marcos Rojo, Luke Shaw,Antonio Valencia, Ander Herrera, Morgan Schneiderlin and Wayne Rooney were all sidelined for the game.
Bournemouth themselves have been forced to cope with a substantial injury list but Lee Tomlin and Sylvain Distin could return against United, while Tommy Elphick is progressing well from an ankle injury. Mark Pugh, Christian Atsu and Adam Federici are set to be sidelined, along with long-term absentees Callum Wilson, Tyrone Mings and Max-Alain Gradel.
– Bournemouth have won just one of their seven Premier League home games (W1 D3 L3).
– Manchester United have drawn 0-0 eight times in 2015 in all competitions, their highest tally in a calendar year since 2005 (10).
– Bournemouth have conceded the joint-most goals in the Premier League (30 – alongside Newcastle), while Manchester United have conceded the fewest (10).
– Bournemouth have scored four goals in their last two league games, all from the 80th minute or later.
– Manchester United have lost just two of their last 18 Premier League games (W9 D7 L2) and are unbeaten in the last seven (W3 D4).
– Callum Wilson is still Bournemouth’s top goal-scorer in the Premier League this season (5 goals) even though he has not featured due to injury since 26th September.
– Wayne Rooney has averaged a goal every 525 minutes in the Premier League so far this season – his worst ever ratio in a single PL campaign (two goals in 1050 mins). His previous worst was in 2003-04 at Everton (nine goals in 2440 mins – 271 mins per goal).
– Juan Mata has created 24 chances for Man Utd in the Premier League this season – twice as many as any other player for the club (Rooney is the next most with 12).
MANCHESTER UNITED – Michael Carrick
After bowing out of the UEFA Champions League in midweek, Manchester United must swiftly refocus on the Barclays Premier League and a first-ever league trip to Bournemouth’s home, historically known as Dean Court.
Considering how Louis Van Gaal’s tactics revolve primarily around possession and building up the attack slowly, the midfield plays a vital role, and when it comes to midfielders, Carrick is one the most experienced and talented midfielders at the Red Devils’ camp.
BOURNEMOUTH – Junior Stanislas
Bournemouth have been short of firepower since Wilson sustained cruciate knee ligament damage in September, after making a highly promising start to the season that included a hat-trick in a 4-3 win at West Ham. But former England Under-21 winger Junior Stanislas has stepped up to the plate in recent weeks, scoring two late goals in a dramatic 3-3 draw with Everton a fortnight ago and delivering the corner that led to Murray’s winner at Chelsea last week.
Manchester United desperately need a win and they must be looking eager to get those crucial 3 points, but then Bournemouth will also be on a high after winning against Chelsea. I predict a 2-0 victory for Manchester United.