Man Utd v Bournemouth Betting Predictions | Home Win 15/8 @BetfairPublished March 1, 2017
On paper, this game looks easy to call. Manchester United have hit their stride, particularly in front of goal, while Bournemouth are dropping like a stone and conceding goals far too easily.
Zlatan Ibrahimovic’s form, having taken his goal tally to 26 for the season with a brace in the EFL Cup final at the weekend, will strike fear into the hearts of the Cherries defenders, who themselves have conceded 23 goals in all competitions in this calendar year.
As a result, it is tough for Eddie Howe to know how to set up to face the Red Devils. Sitting back and attempting to stay compact goes against the club’s entire philosophy, but attempting to push up will obviously leave space to be exploited. Ibrahimovic, Juan Mata and, if he is fit, Henrikh Mkhitaryan, can rely on movement and intelligence rather than pace to hurt Bournemouth, but Jose Mourinho can also call on Marcus Rashford and Anthony Martial, who will not be afraid to make direct runs at pace.
Bournemouth’s downfall has been in the centre of the pitch. When it comes to keeping possession, with Jack Wilshere and Harry Arter operating there, few clubs are better, but that means clubs target them. If the pair are pressurised, they can’t dictate the tempo of games, and when they lose the ball, there is no ballwinner there to protect the back four, who have been left running towards their own goal far too often.
For the Red Devils to really take advantage of this, Mkhitaryan must recover from injury. After a slow start to the season under Mourinho, the Armenian has become the ideal man for the number 10 role under the boss, who demands hard work and defensive stability as much as flair. Winning the ball high up will give them the best opportunity of getting the points here.
If he isn’t fit, the man to take this role on will be Juan Mata, who starts on the right hand side and drifts in. Because the need for pressing high is more important than the games against St Etienne and Southampton, the need for Michael Carrick is reduced, because if the game is slowed down in that area it will suit Bournemouth, who will look to get the ball into the likes of Josh King as early as possible.
Often when the pressure is off, in terms of expectation of a result, teams can come out fighting. But with Ibrahimovic in the form he is and the Bournemouth defence leaking like a burst pipe, it is hard to see anything other than a comfortable home win.