Bournemouth have a big chance to continue their excellent start to the season when they host Manchester United at the Vitality Stadium on Saturday (12:30pm, live on BT Sport).
The Cherries have finished 16th, ninth and 12th in their three seasons since earning promotion to the top flight for the first time in 2015. The way they have begun the new campaign suggests they can genuinely challenge for a top-eight or better position this time around.
With over a quarter of the season completed, Bournemouth find themselves sixth in the Premier League table, having accumulated 20 points from six wins, two draws and two defeats. With very solid underlying statistics to back them up, they have put themselves in a good position to go on from here and secure their best-ever top-flight finish.
Under Eddie Howe, Bournemouth have always been a side who have tried to take the initiative, in and out of possession. They have been a bit more pragmatic in their approach this season, sitting deeper to limit shot quality on the defensive end and then striking on the counter-attack to work clearer opportunities on goal for themselves.
That strategy enjoyed particular success in last weekend’s 3-0 win away to Fulham. Callum Wilson put them ahead from the penalty spot early doors and then finished things off late on after David Brooks had doubled their lead during the second half. Both have impressed so far, as has Ryan Fraser, who provided two assists in that match and has now had a direct hand in eight goals this season.
If there is a potential dampener to be put on what is otherwise a positive panorama down on the south coast then it is the run of fixtures that Bournemouth face between now and the end of the calendar year. After coming up against just one of last season’s top-six so far, six of their next 10 fixtures see them square off against teams that fall into that bracket.
That run begins and ends with matches against Manchester United, who currently find themselves a couple of places and three points behind the Cherries in the table. Man Utd’s start to the campaign has already pretty much ended their chances of challenging for the title. They will now be embroiled in a difficult battle to secure a top-four finish again.
Jose Mourinho looked like a dead man walking when Man Utd went into the break two goals down at home to Newcastle in early October. A sterling comeback there was followed by a credible 2-2 draw away to Chelsea and then a 2-1 win at home to Everton last weekend. Paul Pogba and an in-form Anthony Martial got the goals that gave the Portuguese coach a little bit of breathing room. How much remains to be seen.
That last-mentioned pair of results sandwiched a 0-1 home defeat to Juventus in the Champions League. Man Utd’s overall record to date in both competitions still doesn’t make for pretty reading at six wins, three draws and four defeats. Despite reports that the club are ready to back Mourinho to the tune of £100 million in the January transfer window, getting that far will require a more convincing upturn in results.
Given that a tricky task on Saturday will be followed by matches away to Juventus and Manchester City, and that away engagements against Valencia and Liverpool are to come next month, that may prove hard to engineer. Three seasons in, Mourinho is yet to strike a sustainable balance between attack and defence and that will, sooner or later, be his downfall.
Our Preview’s Bournemouth vs. Man Utd Betting Tips Verdict
Bournemouth come into this match high on confidence and with a game plan that is working very well for them. While Manchester United are likely to play in a manner at least partially designed to prevent their hosts benefiting from the quick transitions that have powered their attacking output to date, Bournemouth still look a solid bet to continue their strong start.
- Bet on Bournemouth to win @ best odds of 14/5 with Betfair.