Wednesday 13 December 2017

Match preview: United v AFC Bournemouth

United make a quick return to league action as the frenetic festive fixtures begin in earnest with the visit of Eddie Howe's Cherries.  The Reds must brush off any lingering derby day disappointment with victory over the south coast side - the Reds first of six matches packed into a hectic 17-day schedule. 

Paul Pogba is serving the second of a three-match ban and Marcos Rojo is doubtful after he was forced off with a head injury at half-time in the derby. Victor Lindelof came on to replace him and Phil Jones was an unused sub so the boss has plenty of defensive re-inforcements but Eric Bailly is still out. Marouane Fellaini is edging closer to fitness and could feature whilst Zlatan is also available for another cameo appearance. For the visitors, Adam Smith is back from a ban but fellow full-backs Tyrone Mings and Bradley Smith could miss out. 

AFC Bournemouth endured an awful start to their third Premier League campaign, as they lost five of their first six games to spark fears that they would struggle after last term's excellent ninth-placed finish. Their form has picked up since, however, and the Cherries come to Old Trafford in 14th place on 16 points, three points outside the bottom three, and on a run of one defeat in six. They drew 2-2 at struggling Crystal Palace last time out, with a brace from veteran striker Jermain Defoe who is in line to start against United. Howe's side held us to a 1-1 on their previous visit here in March in a match remembered for two fiery clashes between Zlatan and Mings, which led to both players being handed retrospective bans. Andrew Surman was also sent off for the visitors. 

In his press conference, the boss refused to elaborate on the pre-derby "Milkgate" incident in the OT tunnel in the aftermath of the defeat. He said: "I am not here to talk about that, this is post-Bournemouth not pre-Manchester City. It is history and what happened, happened. When you lose the last match, you probably have a bit more desire to win the next one. Nobody likes to lose once, nobody wants to lose twice. I think that's something that belongs to every team in the world, not just Manchester United. When you lose a match, the next one you have that little bit of extra to give. We need to do that."
On the gap to leaders City which is now eleven, Jose added: "We go now one match at a time, we try to win and try to get the maximum possible points - we are seven, eight points better off than we were last year in this moment, so we have to try and keep going." 

Form guide: United L W W W W L AFC Bournemouth W W D L D D 
Match odds: United 1/4 Draw 5/1 AFC Bournemouth 13/4 
Referee: Graham Scott (Oxfordshire) 

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