Saturday 13 August 2016

Match preview: Bournemouth v United (Sunday 1.30pm)

United travel to the South Coast in our longest away trip of the season for our Premier League opener and Jose Mourinho's first competitive match in charge. 

Last season's visit to the Vitality Stadium ended in embarrassing ignominy for the Reds but, having ended the 2015/16 campaign with a win against the Cherries, United will look for a better outcome this time around from the 504-mile round trip.

They will have to do so without record £89 million signing Paul Pogba, however, with the Frenchman banned after an accumulation of bookings with Juventus which has been carried over to the Premier League by the FA. 

United's other summer purchases- Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Eric Bailly and Henrikh Mkhitaryan- are all expected to make their competitive debuts. 

Chris Smalling is also suspended due to his sending off in the FA Cup final and subsequent one-match ban that did not include last week's Community Shield victory. 

Mourinho is expecting a difficult test for his new-look team, and said:

"They have the same manager and more or less the same players that came from the Championship and didn't change the way they play.
"They were favourites to be relegated but they stayed in the league, are a good stable team and will make a difficult match for us.
"We feel we are a candidate to win the title- if at the end of the season, somebody who is champion has been better than us then we can accept that- that is football- but in this moment Manchester United, we cannot speak differently.

"We are going to fight for the league title, that I can promise you."

This time 12 months ago Bournemouth were about to embark on a first ever Premier League campaign - a remarkable journey for a club which almost dropped into the Conference six years ago.

They will have been more than happy with a 16th-placed finish- a feat that perhaps didn't get the credit it deserved - despite lengthy injury layoffs to key players as they finished on 42 points with 11 wins to their name. 

As one of the most highly rated young bosses in the country, 38-year-old Eddie Howe was even linked with the England job earlier in the summer but stayed at the Cherries to guide them into their second top flight season. 

Referee: Andre Marriner 
Match odds: Bournemouth 7/2 Draw 13/5 United 5/6
Premier League title odds: City 9/4 United 11/4 Chelsea 5/1 Arsenal 6/1 Leicester 28/1

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