Manchester United will be eager to inch closer to sealing a top-four finish when they take on Bournemouth at the Vitality Stadium on Saturday.
The 2022/23 Premier League season will continue this weekend, with Gameweek 37 kicking off on Saturday. The latest round of fixtures will begin in the capital, with Tottenham and Brentford facing each other in the lunchtime clash. And the action will continue at the Vitality Stadium, where Bournemouth will host Manchester United.
Bournemouth entered the 2022/23 season as one of the favourites to go down to the EFL Championship. And after their early struggles and Scott Parker’s dismissal, they seemed destined for the drop. But Gary O’Neil has gradually taken the Cherries up the table. And they are currently 14th in the standings with 39 points, safe from the threat of relegation.
On the other hand, Manchester United went into the ongoing campaign desperate to get back into the top four. Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s stint ended midway through last season, with Ralf Rangnick’s short spell being nothing short of disastrous. So Erik ten Hag took up the job with a Herculean task in front of him. And he has improved his team’s fortunes considerably.
The Red Devils have already won a trophy this season, winning the Carabao Cup in February. And Manchester United will have the chance to complete a cup double next month when they take on Manchester City in the FA Cup final. But before that, they will be eager to book their place in next season’s UEFA Champions League by clinching a top-four finish. And with Liverpool only a point behind, they do not have any margin for error.
The reverse fixture saw Manchester United cruise to a 3-0 win over Bournemouth, with Casemiro, Luke Shaw, and Marcus Rashford finding the back of the net. The Hard Tackle takes a closer look at the encounter ahead of the latest meeting between the two sides.
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Bringing the positivity 😁 pic.twitter.com/pFlnpEFgk8
— AFC Bournemouth 🍒 (@afcbournemouth) May 17, 2023
Gary O’Neil does not have any new injury concerns hampering his preparations ahead of his side’s latest fixture. Against Manchester United on Saturday, the Bournemouth manager will be bereft of the services of five first-team players.
Hamed Traore (foot) is the closest to returning to action and might be ready for the season’s final game. But Ryan Fredericks (calf), Antoine Semenyo (leg), Junior Stanislas (knock) and Marcus Tavernier (hamstring) have likely played for the last time this season already.
Neto has been a galvanising figure for Bournemouth since arriving from Barcelona last summer. And the Brazilian goalkeeper will don the armband while taking his spot between the sticks on Saturday. The hosts will line up in a 4-4-1-1 formation in front of the skipper.
Lloyd Kelly has been improving with every passing week and is an automatic pick between the sticks. The 24-year-old will form the central defensive partnership alongside Ilya Zabarnyi this weekend. Meanwhile, Adam Smith and Matias Vina will be the two full-backs.
Dango Ouattara’s directness in the final third often troubles the opposition defenders. And the January signing will bring the x-factor on the flanks for Bournemouth, with Ryan Christie being the other wide midfielder. The duo will often accompany Philip Billing in the final third.
Meanwhile, Jefferson Lerma and Joe Rothwell will be the two central midfielders for Bournemouth. The duo will look to keep things tight in the middle of the park while pushing the hosts forward with purpose. Finally, Dominic Solanke will spearhead the attack against Manchester United.
Probable Lineup (4-4-1-1): Neto; Smith, Zabarnyi, Kelly, Vina; Ouattara, Lerma, Rothwell, Christie; Billing; Solanke
Unlike his counterpart in the Bournemouth dugout, Erik ten Hag has greeted a positive update on the team news front ahead of the trip to the Vitality Stadium. The Manchester United manager will be without at least five first-team players on Saturday.
The good news is that Scott McTominay has finally regained enough fitness to be involved in the matchday squad. Meanwhile, Marcus Rashford has trained this week after recovering from a leg injury. But the English international is a doubt for the weekend due to an illness.
Meanwhile, Phil Jones has played his final game for the club after Manchester United announced his departure this summer. Jones (knee) accompanies Tom Heaton (ankle), Lisandro Martinez (foot), Marcel Sabitzer (knee), and Donny van de Beek (knee) on the sidelines.
✅ Raphaël Varane
✅ Scott McTominay
🤢 Marcus Rashford
Erik ten Hag provides a fitness update on his Manchester United squad. pic.twitter.com/wkc7Jh7RiG
— Football Daily (@footballdaily) May 19, 2023
David de Gea is an automatic pick between the sticks, with Manchester United lining up in a 4-2-3-1 formation in front of him. And the defensive unit should not see a change, with Aaron Wan-Bissaka starting as the right-back again. Wan-Bissaka will likely join Raphael Varane, Victor Lindelof, and Luke Shaw in the backline.
As for the midfield unit, there is no looking past Casemiro and Christian Eriksen in the double pivot. So Fred and McTominay will be backup options on the bench for Manchester United. And Bruno Fernandes will be the most advanced midfielder for the visitors.
The Portuguese international has created the most “big chances” this season and will hope for a better conversion from the attackers. Meanwhile, Rashford should be fit enough to start, lining up alongside Antony and Anthony Martial in the final third.
Probable Lineup (4-2-3-1): de Gea; Wan-Bissaka, Varane, Lindelof, Shaw; Casemiro, Eriksen; Antony, Bruno Fernandes, Rashford; Martial
- Bournemouth have lost eight of their 11 Premier League games against Manchester United (W2 D1), although they won 1-0 the last time they faced the Red Devils at home (November 2019). The Red Devils have only failed to score in one of their last 14 meetings with the Cherries in all competitions (W10 D2 L2). But that happened on their last visit to the Vitality Stadium in November 2019.
- Bournemouth have won their final home game in three of their five previous Premier League seasons (D1 L1). But they lost 2-0 against Southampton in their most recent campaign in 2019/20.
- Manchester United lost their final away league game of 2021/22, going down 1-0 at Crystal Palace. They have not faced a defeat in their last game on the road in consecutive league campaigns since a run of four between 1988/89 and 1991/92.
- Manchester United won 16 points from their nine Premier League away games between August and December this season (W5 D1 L3), the second most in the division. However, in 2023 they have managed just eight points from nine outings on the road (W2 D2 L5), with only six sides winning fewer so far this calendar year.
- Manchester United have scored 11 Premier League goals via substitutes this season, with no player netting more of these than Alejandro Garnacho (3, including one vs Wolverhampton Wanderers last time weekend). Only in 2017/18 (12) have the Red Devils scored more goals via subs.
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Rashford has been the leading light for Manchester United this season. And the Red Devils have lacked the killer instinct in his absence. So the Englishman’s return will come as a huge boost for the visiting team on Saturday.
Rashford has scored 16 Premier League goals this season, just one short of his highest in a single campaign (17 in 2019/20). He has also netted five goals against Bournemouth in the competition (including four in his last five), only scoring more often against Leicester City (8). So the 25-year-old will fancy his chances this weekend if he is fit enough to start.
Bournemouth 1-2 Manchester United
Bournemouth’s form has petered off since they confirmed their spot in next season’s Premier League. The Cherries have lost their last two Premier League games, last losing more consecutively in December/January (4). Meanwhile, none of Bournemouth’s last 14 league games have ended in a stalemate (W7 L7).
As for Manchester United, the Red Devils have an abysmal record on the road in 2023. But with Liverpool’s close proximity leaving them without a margin for error, the visitors will leave no stone unturned on Saturday. And Marcus Rashford’s return should deliver the three points by the barest of margins. The Hard Tackle thus predicts a 2-1 win for Erik ten Hag and his charges.
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