Manchester United could climb to fifth in the Premier League on Saturday with a victory at Bournemouth and if other results go their way.
The Red Devils have won their past three games in all competitions, including Wednesday’s Carabao Cup success at Chelsea. United defeated the Blues 2-1 at Stamford Bridge, and Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s men have begun to show better form on the road.
The Cherries are ninth after the first 10 league games, and they could also end the weekend as high as fifth if results fall their way.
Date: Saturday, Nov. 2
Time: 12:30 p.m. GMT/8:30 a.m. ET
TV Info: BT Sports 1 (UK), NBCSN (U.S.)
Live Stream: BT Sport App, NBC Sports App
Odds: Bournemouth: 9-4, United 23-20, draw 5-2 (per Caesars)
Solskjaer’s side have underperformed since he was handed the manager’s job at Old Trafford on a permanent basis in March, but the green shoots of recovery have started to appear in recent weeks.
United performed valiantly in the 1-1 Premier League draw against leaders Liverpool, and the team have used that performance as a springboard.
The Red Devils still lack the creativity they need in midfield, but the starting XI are clearly enjoying Solskjaer’s tweaked systems. The formations he’s used since the international break—variations of 3-5-2, 3-4-3 and 4-2-3-1—have allowed United to focus on the counter-attack and utilise the team’s impressive pace.
Against Liverpool and Chelsea, the flexibility these formations offered in being able to quickly revert into a defensive low block paid dividends.
Per MUTV (h/t Alex Harris of the Mirror), Harry Maguire and Marcus Rashford suffered knocks against Chelsea, but Solskjaer said he hopes the pair will be fit enough to feature at the Vitality Stadium.
Rashford’s spectacular free-kick won the game at Stamford Bridge on Wednesday, and the strike is sure to give him confidence. Speaking after the latest win, Rashford said United have been journeying through a difficult transition, per Harris:
“We’ve been in a tough place. We’re still getting through that phase and the only way to do it is to fight your way through it and get three points because at the end of the day they’re the things that keep everybody happy.
“When you go home and you’ve won the game, whether it’s home or away, that’s when you wake up with a good feeling. So we just want to recreate that as much as possible this season.
Bournemouth will be satisfied with their league position, but results have been inconsistent. Eddie Howe’s team are without a win in their past five games in all competitions, a run that includes a 2-0 Carabao Cup defeat to League One side Burton Albion.
No goals in their past three will concern Howe, and the club has relied on set pieces to trouble teams. United still appear vulnerable against the dead ball, so the hosts might have some joy during Saturday’s encounter.
The Cherries were previously considered an attacking side, with fluid passing moves a hallmark of their style. However, Howe has opted for a tighter style this term.
If Bournemouth defeat United and move up the table, Howe’s conservative approach will have been justified. Clubs outside of the top 10 are becoming progressively stronger, and the south coast team must find a method to preserve its top-flight status.