By 90Min
November 02, 2018

Manchester United have taken seven points from their last three Premier League fixtures in difficult circumstances following a poor start to the season and mounting speculation over the futures of manager Jose Mourinho and many players.


The comeback win over Newcastle promised to be a turning point with a 2-2 draw against Chelsea a week later a respectable result, if rather disappointing given the context of the game.

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Paul Pogba's two major lapses aside, United then came through a clash with Everton relatively unscathed - the 2-1 win was ultimately rather comfortable despite a nervous end.

Now, Mourinho's team faces a different kind of test in their next fixture when they make the long trip to the south coast to face a Bournemouth side that has started the season in fine form and is currently above United in the Premier League table.

Despite a recent upturn for United, the Cherries cannot be underestimated.

After famously dumping United out of the FA Cup as a Third Division side in 1984, Bournemouth won the first ever Premier League meeting between the clubs in December 2015. Ex-United player Joshua King played a decisive role that day and netted the winner at the Vitality Stadium.

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United have won four of the five games that have been played since then, but Bournemouth also took a point home from Old Trafford in March 2017, a game remembered for the violent altercation between Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Tyrone Mings that resulted in bans for both players.

After losing home and away against United last season, Bournemouth have come back strong in 2018/19. They have been beaten just twice in their 10 Premier League games this season, less than United (3), and have won six of them, more than United (5).

Eddie Howe's team are sixth in the table, three points and two places better off than United and are unbeaten in their last four league games. They have kept consecutive clean sheets in each of their last three outings and have scored seven goals across their last two wins, both away.

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Every time Bournemouth have scored a goal in a Premier League game this season they have gone to net at least twice. A major reason for that is the form of star striker Callum Wilson, who is at last reaping the rewards of staying fit after suffering two serious knee injuries since 2015.

Scottish winger Ryan Fraser has also enjoyed a fine start to the season. He and Wilson alone have contributed a combined 18 goals and assists in the Premier League. In stark contrast, United's two most prolific players - Paul Pogba and Anthony Martial - have managed just 10.

Overall, Bournemouth have scored 19 league goals this season, with only Manchester City, Liverpool, Chelsea and Arsenal finding the net more often. That attack is going up against a United defence that is leaking goals at an alarming rate and has kept only one Premier League clean sheet in 10 games.

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Currently, only Burnley, Cardiff, Fulham and Huddersfield, teams most would expect to fighting relegation this season, have conceded more goals than United's 17 this season.

The greater objective quality of the players in their line up will make United favourites at the Vitality Stadium on Saturday lunchtime, but Bournemouth are the team in better form this season and will certainly not lie down.

It will require nothing less than a strong and accomplished United performance to beat them.

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