The Big Match Tactical View: Bournemouth v Manchester United

After the midweek disappointment, can Louis van Gaal get Manchester United's season back on track?
After the midweek disappointment, can Louis van Gaal get Manchester United's season back on track?

After Manchester United were dumped out of the Champions League in midweek, they badly need a victory here. Michael Cox looks at the tactics, Alan Thompson assesses the betting.

"Bournemouth are most likely to cause Manchester United problems down the flanks"

Bournemouth v Manchester United
Saturday 17:30, Sky Sports 1.
Match Odds: Bournemouth 3.55/2, Man Utd 2.3611/8, The Draw 3.55/2.

After the biggest victory in the history of AFC Bournemouth - in manager Eddie Howe's words - last weekend at Stamford Bridge, the club can approach Saturday evening's home clash with Manchester United in great confidence.

Bournemouth's win at Chelsea was a classic underdog victory - they defended deep, they rode their luck, they pounced with a late set-piece. But they also showcased some good football throughout the game, particularly when playing quick one-twos through the Chelsea midfield and into attack. They're unlikely to deviate significantly from this approach here.

Indeed, a similar performance against United might reap rewards. Louis van Gaal's side have struggled to break down deep defences this season, and find themselves playing against deep defences frequently, partly because they move the ball forward so slowly, giving the opposition plenty of room to get themselves back into a good defensive shape.

Bournemouth were guilty of being too naive in the opening weeks of the season, giving their opponents too much space to play through midfield. Now, they've matured and know how to frustrate opponents.

Howe is unlikely to make significant changes from the side which defeated Chelsea - he simply doesn't have enough options to do so - but matchwinner Glenn Murray, the only substitute used last weekend, will be hoping for a start. Nevertheless, Joshua King is probably a more useful counter-attacking player, and will hope to combine with Junior Stanislas, who moves inside dangerously from the left flank.

Bournemouth were cautious with their attacking, but tended to commit men forward in waves. Both Harry Arter and Dan Gosling would spring forward suddenly from central midfield, while Adam Smith and Matt Ritchie combined dangerously down the right.

Down the flanks is where Bournemouth are most likely to cause United trouble, because an injury crisis means Van Gaal is likely to field Guillermo Varela and Ashley Young at full-back. Young, in fairness, has adjusted well to being used as a full-back and has rarely been exposed, but Varela's inexperience might be problematic against a powerful runner like Stanislas.

Probable centre-back duo Paddy McNair and Daley Blind isn't the most convincing combination either.

United are, at least, likely to boss the midfield battle. Expect Michael Carrick to control the game and Morgan Schneiderlin to move forward more - Bournemouth will probably attempt to press in the opening stages, but United should be good enough to move the ball around them.

Bournemouth's main worry will be the prospect of Juan Mata finding space either side of Andrew Surman. His lovely assist for Anthony Martial in the midweek defeat to Wolfsburg shows the value of using those two players in central roles, and while Bournemouth ended up playing deep against Chelsea, they were prone to Eden Hazard's pace in behind in the opening stages. Martial will test them here.

Jesse Lingard and Memphis Depay will threaten from wide areas, though both could do with dribbling more and committing opposition defenders - United have been guilty of playing in front of the opposition too much this season.

Overall, this should be a low-scoring match - United don't concede or score many, while Bournemouth will probably sit back and hope for another one-goal game.

The Betfair Trader's View: Alan Thompson

The Red Devils were dumped out of the Champions League on Tuesday evening so it will be interesting to see how they react to their latest setback. Louis Van Gaal’s £200 million pound squad, have simply not been performing of late and with just two wins in the their last six Premier League starts, a trip to the Vitality Stadium and a buoyant Bournemouth side could easily see them slip up again.

Eddie Howe’s men got an incredible result last week at Stamford Bridge to end a run of eight games without a win and they are now undefeated in their last three starts. The facts are, though, that they have still only picked up one win and one clean sheet at home (Sunderland 2-0). They have, however, only failed to score in two of their home games this campaign, both ending in 1-0 defeats (Aston Villa and Newcastle).

Goals have certainly been at a premium in United’s last six games, with three 0-0 draws, their last six games have only produced seven goals (scored five, conceded two). By contrast, Bournemouth’s last six at home have produced 19 goals (scored eight, conceded 11) and they have already been involved in four games this season that have had six or more goals, two of which were at home.

The market suggests that the United trend is the one to follow and that this will be another low scoring match with under 2.5 goals trading at around 1.84/5 (55%). But United defenders Matteo Darmian and Chris Smalling both picked up injuries in Germany and are doubtful starters. Even though they are without long term injured Callum Wilson, I think the Cherries could cause United problems and will be backing over 2.5 goals @ 2.245/4 and having a saver on 1-1 in the correct score market @ 7.613/2.

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