Our Premier League scribe takes a look at Sunday's EPL match between Bournemouth and Manchester United.
So, the new era of mega-manager Jose Mourinho begins at the stadium with the smallest capacity in the league. But this will by no means be a low key occasion.
The Paul Pogba saga has truly reflected where the Premier League has evolved to. Three years ago, I’m almost certain that Barcelona or Real Madrid would have been his destination. But times are certainly a-changing.
Bournemouth have made their own moves, particularly with the acquisition of Jordan Ibe, and they will have a host of players returning from injury. It is actually remarkable what Bournemouth achieved considering the extent of serious injuries that they endured. So Bournemouth will hardly be overawed by the visit of United and Mourinho will be all too aware of potential future England manager Eddie Howe’s eye for detail.
Bournemouth v Manchester United | Sunday 14 July | Dean Court | 14:30
To Win (90 Mins)
Bournemouth 15/4 | Draw 51/20 | Manchester United 15/20
Bournemouth’s signing of Jordan Ibe could potentially be one of the signings of the summer. He fits into the mould of the athletic, mobile utility forward that Eddie Howe favours.
He will also have Tyrone Mings, Callum Wilson and Max Gradel back from long term injuries. Ben Smith’s arrival, also from Liverpool, gives them some added depth in defensive positions.The arrival of Ake from Chelsea on a loan deal is yet another example of why Howe is considered such a prudent manager.
Bournemouth will need to contain the idiosyncratic threat that Zlatan presents. Zlatan will challenge Bournemouth both physically and through his surprising mobility. But perhaps more importantly, they will need to halt the speed and ingenuity of both Martial and Mkhitaryan. The Armenian, in particular, is an excellent talent who gives United an edge they simply never had last year.
Bournemouth will look to get Daniels forward down the left while Ibe and Wilson inject pace up front. Bournemouth’s pace out wide could actually prove problematic if United’s full-backs push forward.
Whatever you have to say about Mourinho, the man has made some terrific signings. Every single key area has been addressed.
Eric Bailey is the specialist central defender who can accompany Smalling. Pogba is the dynamic box to box midfielder with vision. Mhikataryan is the Barcelona-esque player with creativity and vision. And in Zlatan, you have a fountain of the most prized asset in football: goals.
So Mourinho has done the first part right. Now he just needs to get his mojo back on the football field. Let’s not forget, he did win this league two seasons past.
Bournemouth are actually the type of side that Van Gaal’s United would have struggled against. They play with pace and fearlessness, and would have always had United’s stygian side under pressure.
Mourinho has identified some of the key areas and strengthened the squad accordingly. Additionally, Luke Shaw’s return from injury brings back a world class fullback into the side.
They still possess perhaps the world’s finest goalkeeper in De Gea, and Mourinho has expressed a willingness to play Rooney in a more preferred, advanced role.
Verdict: Halftime-Fulltime Double - Draw HT/United FT 32/10
I think that Mourinho will be aware of Bournemouth’s attacking threat and may play it cagey in the first half. But their general quality should see them through to a narrow but important win.
Written by Damien Kayat for @Hollywoodbets.net