A suddenly red-hot Manchester United travel to the South Coast this weekend to take on Bournemouth. Here’s everything that you need to know ahead of the match.
(1) Facing a stretch of four away matches in ten days, Manchester United looked like a club headed to the gallows. Going seven months without a road win will do that. But, after Wednesday’s dramatic 2-1 cup win at Chelsea, the Reds stand on the brink of ending this treacherous run with four wins from four.
(2) Ole Gunnar Solskjaer on his club’s turnaround:
Three away wins in a week, when you haven’t won in a while. At least that talk about us not winning away from home is gone. The boys have been working hard and have never let the goals out of their sight. We know we’ve been close — we’ve been quite close a few times — and we just haven’t managed to tip the margins our way. Now we have.
(3) At Stamford Bridge, Solskjaer switched back to the 3-5-2 that so vexed Liverpool two weeks ago. That formation led to a very creditable 1-1 draw with the league leaders — and spoiled their 100% Premier League record — but the boss reverted to a back four at Norwich. No complaints about the performance at Carrow Road, but it would be nice to see OGS stick with the 3-5-2 for a while.
(4) Manchester United’s PK rollercoaster rumbled on at Chelsea. Marcus Rashford redeemed himself from the spot after a rare misfire (one of two errant penalties for United) at the weekend. The Reds continue to win penalties at a remarkable — and probably unsustainable — rate, but no one’s complaining. United need all the goals they can get.
(5) After Wednesday’s 2-1 win, Solskjaer revealed that it did not come without cost. Both Rashford and Harry Maguire are a little banged up and questionable for the weekend.
Some of them are sore, but you should be absolutely down on your knees after a game of football because it’s worth it when you win a game. They [Rashford and Maguire] are quick healers. Let’s hope they’re ready for Saturday.
(6) Saturday brings United another chance to climb the Premier League table. After brushing up (or down) against the relegation zone earlier this month, the Reds could actually jump as high as fifth with a win at Bournemouth. Crazy. There’s still a decent amount of separation between the top four and the chasing pack, but United have put themselves in far better position than looked possible just a few weeks ago.
(7) Clean sheet watch: The much-improved Manchester United defense should be licking their lips with toothless Bournemouth up next.
Two stats at opposite ends of pitch— Elite FPL Podcast ️ (@EliteFPL) October 28, 2019
Now 261 minutes without conceding a league goal, Bournemouth’s longest run since October 2018
Now 314 minutes without scoring a league goal. That’s their longest run since December 2017.
(8) As United started their rise, Bournemouth sputtered through October without a win — netting just two points after back-to-back 0-0 draws. Not exactly an encouraging return against the two worst teams (Norwich and Watford) in the Premier League. Remarkably, though, the Cherries are still ninth, even on points with United.
(9) Eddie Howe hands big minutes to young talent: goalkeeper Aaron Ramsdale (21), center back Nathan Ake (24), Philip Billing (23) and Harry Wilson (22) in midfield, and Dominic Solanke (22) up top. It’s been a season of ups and downs for Bournemouth and this is a big reason why.
(10) Speaking of Ake, Howe lauded the Dutch defender after reports emerged of Chelsea’s possible interest:
He certainly fits our style and how we want to play, being comfortable with the ball and having the bravery to play, build attacks, and all the things that are the hallmarks of our defenders.
He’s an absolute winner and a really good guy to manage — he sets the tone in terms of character for the players. He is now a permanent fixture of our back four, a model of consistency, and developing and improving all the time.
(11) Ole, no matter the formation on Saturday, it’s time to hand this kid his first Premier League start. And, hopefully, it will be the first of many.