PREVIEW: Bournemouth vs Manchester United

Following the Cherries’ five-match unbeaten streak (W4, D1), manager Andoni Iraola of Bournemouth bemoaned his team’s lack of ruthlessness in a 2-1 loss to Luton last week. Since they have only once finished in the top ten in this competition, they still have a lot of work ahead of them in the Premier League table. That also prevented them from rising into the top half of the ranking.

The first goal is to become the first team in Premier League history to win four straight games at home. They will not have that luxury against Manchester United, who will be paying them a visit this coming Saturday. However, after defeating the Red Devils 3-0 in the rematch, the home crowd should feel confident about defeating them for the first time. Their previous three victories all came against teams that were lower in the table at the beginning of this round.

After his team lost seven games in a row from winning positions and conceded after the 80th minute in each of their three games (D2, L1), that could prove to be a fatal blow to Erik ten Hag’s tenure at Manchester United. Since going winless since the international break, United’s hopes of finishing in the top five have all but vanished; instead, they are now only managing to hold onto sixth place as the group of teams chasing them gain momentum.

The Red Devils have a negative goal differential at this point in the season for the first time since the Premier League era, in part because of a defensive injury crisis that has persisted throughout the entire season! If United is to build on a strong recent record at this venue (W4, L1), they will need to be cautious against their vulnerability, which peaks later in games, especially on the road where they have given up 19 of their 24 league goals after the break.

Players to watch: Four of Justin Kluivert’s past five goals have come in the first half of a match. The in-form winger has directly contributed to goals in back-to-back games (G1, A1). Although Casemiro is expected to contain the Dutchman, he might be looking forward after scoring in both of their meetings last season, including the game-winning goal on this field in May.

Hot stat: In the first half of their home Premier League games this season, Bournemouth has scored five goals, a league-low total.

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