Manchester United will be hoping to build a winning momentum when they travel to the Vitality Stadium to take on Bournemouth on Saturday

Premier League football will resume this weekend with Gameweek 11. On Saturday, there are a number of intriguing fixtures on show, one such being on the south coast of England, as Bournemouth play hosts to Manchester United at the Vitality Stadium, looking to continue their strong form and inflict more damage on their visitors.

Bournemouth are flying high at the start of the season, sitting sixth on the Premier League table after their first ten games. In particular, Eddie Howe’s men have impressed with their improvements at the back while also having retained the threat that they carry in the final third.

Manchester United, on the other hand, have stuttured massively, with issues on and off the field hampering their progress. But, Jose Mourinho’s men seem to be finding their feet, and have climbed up to 8th on the Premier League table after last week’s 2-1 win over Everton.

The corresponding fixture last season yielded a 2-0 win for Manchester United, courtesy goals from Chris Smalling and Romelu Lukaku. Ahead of the latest meeting between the two sides, The Hard Tackle takes a closer look at the Premier League encounter.

Team News & Tactics

AFC Bournemouth

Bournemouth have been flying high so far this season. (Photo by Marc Atkins/Getty Images)

Bournemouth have been flying high so far this season. (Photo by Marc Atkins/Getty Images)

Joshua King remains unavailable for Bournemouth due to a knee injury which will keep him on the sidelines for another week. The unavailability of the in-form Norwegian is telling, with Callum Wilson and Ryan Fraser having to shoulder extra responsibility in his absence.

King’s absence has also seen Howe experiment with a 3-4-2-1 formation instead of his preferred 4-4-2 system. The new style also adds to Bournemouth’s defensive strengths, although the success of the back-three will depend largely on the availability of Simon Francis, who is doubtful due to a groin injury.

Howe though, exuded confidence while speaking of the Bournemouth captain, meaning he should make it to the starting lineup. Alongside Francis, Nathan Ake and Steve Cook will complete the back-three, with Ake having the responsibility of playing out from the back.

The change in system also works in favour of Adam Smith and Charlie Daniels, who are known to be more effective in the final third than in defence. With the three centre-backs and the midfield pairing of Lewis Cook and Jefferson Lerma shoring up the defensive side of the game, the wing-backs can go on marauding down either flank.

Up ahead in attack, Ryan Fraser and David Brooks will veer infield for the most part, creating overloads in the half spaces and enabling Callum Wilson to play off the shoulders of Manchester United’s centre-backs.

Probable Lineup (3-4-2-1): Begovic; Francis, Ake, Steve Cook; Adam Smith, Lewis Cook, Lerma, Daniels; Brooks, Fraser; Wilson

Bournemouth

Manchester United

Jose Mourinho has been greeted with some good news for a change as far as the injury front is concerned. Alexis Sanchez and Jesse Lingard are fully fit, having not been a 100 per cent when Manchester United hosted Everton last weekend.

The likes of Diogo Dalot, Scott McTominay and Marouane Fellaini are also inching closer to their returns from injury, although Saturday’s game has come too soon for the trio. The only major concern for Mourinho surrounds the fitness of Antonio Valencia, who has been hit with a setback on his bid to come back from a knee injury.

But, with Ashley Young putting in an improved performance at the right side of the Manchester United defence last week, Mourinho is not sweating too much. The rest of the back four seems to have settled down as well, with Chris Smalling and Victor Lindelof building up a nice understanding at the heart of the defence, while Luke Shaw is one of the first names on the team sheet.

In midfield, Fred’s impressive performance against Everton last weekend would have given Mourinho a lot to think about. And, the Brazilian should get the nod for the away game at Bournemouth as well, with his presence ensuring smooth transitions and also taking some of the burden off Paul Pogba, who will be able to assume more advanced positions in the final third.

Meanwhile, Mourinho will hope for an improved showing from Nemanja Matic, who has been horribly sub-par this season. Up ahead in attack, there is a glut of choices for the manager following the returns of Lingard and Sanchez.

While Romelu Lukaku might be named as a substitute again, Sanchez could come into the side in place of Juan Mata, starting on the right flank, where he showed some promising signs against Valencia last month.

Marcus Rashford should start as the central striker once again, tasked to take on the Bournemouth centre-backs with his pace, while Anthony Martial is a certain starter considering his recent form.

Probable Lineup (4-3-3): De Gea; Young, Smalling, Lindelof, Shaw; Fred, Matic, Pogba; Sanchez, Rashford, Martial

Manchester United

Key Stats

  • After winning their first Premier League meeting with Manchester United (2-1 in December 2015), Bournemouth are winless in their last five against the Red Devils (D1 L4).
  • Bournemouth will be aiming to keep four successive clean sheets in top-flight football for the first time in their history.
  • Manchester United have kept just one Premier League clean sheet this season – only Fulham have a poorer record in terms of shut-outs.
  • Callum Wilson is just one short of equalling his combined goals and assists tally (eight and two respectively) in last season’s Premier League campaign.
  • Anthony Martial will be aiming to score in four consecutive Premier League games for the first time in Manchester United colours – he has four in his last three outings.

Betting Odds

Favourable Bets

1. Manchester United to win @ 2.10

2. Both Teams to Score – NO @ 2.20

3. Anthony Martial to score anytime @ 2.75

Underdog Bets

1. Manchester United to win to NIL @ 4.00

Player to Watch

Fred

At his best, Fred can ensure flowing moves in the Manchester United midfield. (Photo by Oli Scarff/AFP/Getty Images)

At his best, Fred can ensure flowing moves in the Manchester United midfield. (Photo by Oli Scarff/AFP/Getty Images)

Fred seemed to have hit a roadblock after a decent start to life as a Manchester United player, going over a month without starting a game for the Red Devils. But, his performance against Everton last weekend proved that he has a lot to offer to the stuttering giants as they look to find their feet.

In his outing against the Toffees, the Brazilian international also showed just why he was bought in the summer. Taking on more defensive responsibility while also ensuring smooth transitions from defence to attack, Fred’s presence has the ability to bring the best out of Pogba. And, if that happens, a huge win could be on the cards for Manchester United.

Prediction

AFC Bournemouth 1-2 Manchester United

Bournemouth have been one of the form teams in the Premier League season, having continued their relentless improvement under the tutelage of Eddie Howe. Manchester United, on the other hand, have been left frustrated by a number of results, although they have shown some signs of progress. The match on Saturday is thus, set up quite tantalisingly.

A win for either side is not a given, especially considering Bournemouth are unbeaten in six Premier League home games. But, Manchester United were the last side to notch up a win at the Vitality Stadium, which should fill Jose Mourinho up with some confidence.

The visitors will also look to build some momentum ahead of two clutch games against Juventus and Manchester City next week, and we believe they will find a way to nick a win. The Hard Tackle predicts an evenly contested affair, with Manchester United beating Bournemouth by the odd goal in three.

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