MX23RW : Monday, February 18 07:07:54
Nov 3, 2018 at 12.30pm UK at ​Dean Court
Attendance: 10,792
Man UtdManchester United
Wilson (11')
FT(HT: 1-1)
Martial (35'), Rashford (90')

Preview: Bournemouth vs. Manchester United - prediction, team news, lineups

Sports Mole previews Manchester United's trip to face high-flying Bournemouth at the Vitality Stadium, including team news, predictions and head-to-head records.

Manchester United will make the trip south to face Bournemouth at the Vitality Stadium on Saturday in the unusual position of being below their opponents in the Premier League table.

The Cherries have made a fine start to the season to sit in sixth place, two places and three points better off than Jose Mourinho's struggling United side.


Eddie Howe in charge of Bournemouth on October 6, 2018© Reuters

Bournemouth supporters must regularly pinch themselves in disbelief at how far they have come over the past decade, and never more so than this season.

Just 10 years ago the Cherries were fighting for their very existence having been handed a 17-point penalty in League Two, yet on Saturday they will welcome English football's most successful club sitting above them in the Premier League table.

It is the stuff of fairytales for Bournemouth, who would even climb into the top four with a victory on Saturday.

Such a leap might only be temporary, but with Arsenal and Tottenham Hotspur facing difficult tests against Liverpool and Wolverhampton Wanderers respectively later in the day, it is not beyond the realms of possibility that Eddie Howe's side could end the weekend in the Champions League places.

Only two points separate them from fourth-placed Arsenal as things stand, while only the unbeaten top three have lost fewer games than the Cherries this season. Tottenham and Manchester United are among the 15 clubs to have lost more.

Indeed, Bournemouth will go into Saturday's match with five wins and no defeats from their last six matches across all competitions since their 4-0 loss at the hands of Burnley - a result which is looking increasingly like an anomaly in the seasons of both clubs.

It is worth noting that Bournemouth have had things relatively easy up to this point; both of their matches against one of last season's top seven have resulted in their two defeats of the campaign, and more difficult tests are to come with Saturday's match marking the beginning of a six-game streak during which time they will face United, Arsenal, Manchester City and Liverpool.

However, the fact remains that Bournemouth are already halfway to the treasured 40-point mark with just over a quarter of the season gone, and their confidence will be sky high going into that tricky run of fixtures.

The Cherries' 3-0 win at Fulham last weekend made it three consecutive Premier League clean sheets and another against United would see them go four top-flight games without conceding for the first time in their history - although their defence was breached in the midweek EFL Cup win over Norwich City.

Tuesday's win over the Canaries not only set up a quarter-final showdown with Chelsea, but also extended Bournemouth's unbeaten record at home this season, with Howe's side having now won six and drawn two in front of their own fans.

Bournemouth are one of only four teams - along with Man City, Liverpool and Chelsea - yet to suffer a home league defeat this season, and United were actually the last team to beat them at the Vitality Stadium on their most recent visit in April.

The Bournemouth supporters will no doubt be expecting more difficult times to come, but for now they will enjoy their lofty position having been stuck in the relegation zone, 13 points and 13 goals worse off at the same stage of last season.

Recent Premier League form: WLWWDW
Recent form (all competitions): WWWDWW

Man Utd

Jose Mourinho watches on during the Champions League group game between Manchester United and Juventus on October 23, 2018© Reuters

While Bournemouth are enjoying arguably the best spell in the club's entire history, United have struggled to live up to their own previous standards so far this season.

The Red Devils sit eighth in the Premier League table after 10 matches, already nine points adrift of the leading pack - the identity of whom will only add insult to injury for the 20-time champions.

United sat in second place at the same stage of last season, but an even more telling disparity between the two campaigns can be found in the goals conceded column.

In 2017-18 United let in just four goals from their opening 10 games, but already this term they have shipped 17 - a tally it took them until January 31, 25 matches into the campaign, to reach last season.

Mourinho's side have kept only one clean sheet in the league so far this term and have conceded two or more goals in half of their 10 outings, including three of their last four.

There was an improvement last weekend as United edged to a 2-1 victory over Everton at Old Trafford - a match Mourinho felt his side should have sewn up earlier - to pick up just their second win in their last eight matches across all competitions.

Beating Bournemouth would see United string together successive wins for the first time since mid-September, and the importance of picking up all three points will only be heightened by a pair of daunting fixtures next week.

United take on Cristiano Ronaldo and Juventus in Turin on Wednesday - having been outclassed by the Italian champions at Old Trafford last month - before visiting champions, leaders and neighbours Manchester City in their final match before the international break.

Wins for United in either of those games would constitute a fairly sizeable shock, so they may have to wait until after the November break before they are finally able to build up some much-needed consistency.

Whether that will be too late remains to be seen, but with the rest of their top six rivals all enjoying fine spells of form recently, United cannot afford to get cut much further adrift.

Recent Premier League form: WDLWDW
Recent form (all competitions): LDWDLW

Team News

Romelu Lukaku in action for Manchester United on October 28, 2018© Reuters

Romelu Lukaku was dropped against Everton and has now gone nine games without a goal for United, so Mourinho must decide whether to stick with Marcus Rashford through the middle or welcome the Belgian back into his side.

Lukaku's record against Bournemouth could help to tip the scales in his favour, having scored six times in his last three Premier League meetings with the Cherries - including in both games last season.

Anthony Martial is the man in goalscoring form at the moment with four in his last three games, and another this weekend would see him score in four successive Premier League matches for the first time.

Jesse Lingard is also in contention for a first league start since September 22 having been handed a late cameo against Everton last time out, which could see Juan Mata drop deeper and Fred miss out.

Marouane Fellaini and Diogo Dalot remain sidelined for the visitors, though, while Antonio Valencia and Scott McTominay are doubts.

Bournemouth, meanwhile, are sweating over the fitness of Joshua King, who has missed the last two games with an ankle injury and remains doubtful for this weekend.

The match is likely to come too soon for Simon Francis to recover from a groin strain he picked up against Norwich in midweek.

Callum Wilson is expected to lead the line once again having been directly involved in nine goals from 10 Premier League games this season - already just one fewer than he was in 28 games last term.

Bournemouth possible starting lineup:
Begovic; Ake, S Cook, Daniels; Smith, L Cook, Lerma, Fraser; Brooks, Wilson, King

Man Utd possible starting lineup:
De Gea; Young, Smalling, Lindelof, Shaw; Mata, Matic, Pogba; Lingard, Lukaku, Martial

Head To Head

Bournemouth won their first ever league meeting with United in December 2015, but they are since winless in five, including four defeats.

Indeed, Bournemouth have only ever won two of the 14 previous contests between these two sides, both of which have come at home.

United won both fixtures last season - including a 2-0 win at the Vitality in April - and could record three successive wins over Bournemouth for the first time since their opening three fixtures against them, which were spread between 1949 and 1982.

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We say: Bournemouth 1-1 Man Utd

Bournemouth are flying at the moment and, while this is a step up in quality from a number of sides they have faced so far this season, they will be full of confidence that they can get something from this game. United are still struggling to find their best form and could drop more points at the Vitality.

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Who will win Saturday's Premier League clash between Bournemouth and Manchester United?

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Romelu Lukaku in action for Manchester United on August 19, 2018
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