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Manchester United-Bournemouth Preview
Hoping to finally kick on from a rough start to the season, Manchester United look to make it four wins on the trot in all competitions Saturday when they face a Bournemouth side who have been surprisingly resolute defensively but toothless offensively of late.
United (3-4-3) are still closer to the drop than they are the top four in terms of points, but they are seventh in the table on 13. They lead their Europa League group at the midway point, not conceding any goals through three matches, and the offence finally seems to be picking up as they get more healthy.
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's side have scored more than one goal in back-to-back matches for the first time this season after Wednesday's 2-1 victory at Chelsea to reach the quarterfinals of the Carabao Cup. Marcus Rashford capped his double with a stupendous free kick in the 73rd minute, a 35-metre knuckler that swerved and dipped under the crossbar inside the left post past a flailing Willy Caballero.
"I don't think we're even half-way playing to what we can and to the potential of this team," Rashford told Sky Sports after the final whistle per United's official website. "The only way to get to that 100% of what we can do is to keep putting the work in, keep listening to the manager and the coaching staff and to keep believing.
"That's what we've done today, and you can see the result."
Rashford also converted a penalty in the first half for United's first goal, giving him eight for club and country in 18 matches this season. He has all three match-winners in league play for the Red Devils, who also got a favourable draw for the quarterfinals next month with League Two side Colchester United coming to Old Trafford.
After going nearly eight months without a road victory, United now have the chance to claim four in a nine-day span, which started with a 1-0 Europa League win at Partizan Belgrade. Solskjaer has been fluid with his back line, alternating with three and four and switching to the latter during the last two matches.
"I reckon that when we play with three at the back, our team is much more stable and solid," Sergio Romero told United's official website after winning for the fourth time in as many starts as keeper in both Europa League and Carabao Cup play. "That's down to the fact that we are playing with three central defenders who are not going to get forward and join the attack too much, but who do have the necessary ability to be able get forward if needed."
Like United, Bournemouth (3-4-3) are on 13 points but ninth in the table as they trail both Solskjaer's side and new boys Sheffield United on goal difference while leading West Ham on the same standard.
The Cherries are seeking their first run of three shutouts since Oct. 6-27 of last season, but they are also mired in a 314-minute goal drought since Callum Wilson scored immediately after the restart versus the Irons on Sept. 28. Bournemouth have never gone four league matches on the spin without a goal in the top flight since winning their initial promotion in 2015 and are coming off back-to-back 0-0 draws following last weekend's stalemate at Vicarage Road versus Watford.
"Maybe confidence, when you go a few games without a goal - for a striker, a winger or throughout the team," Harry Wilson told the Bournemouth Echo about the team's lack of goals."Maybe you lose a bit of confidence, you start overthinking things rather than maybe just putting your foot through the ball like you would do normally.
"It's up to us to regain our confidence because we are confident we can create chances - it's up to us to put them away. For us not to score in the past few games is disappointing but it's up to us to work on it in training and put it right next week."
Keeper Aaron Ramsdale did well to give the Cherries the point, with his best save coming on a shot by Will Hughes he tipped around the post. Ramsdale finished with three saves as he allowed one or no goals for the seventh time in 10 league matches.
United have won four on the trot in this series and are unbeaten in seven in league play (6-1-0) since Bournemouth pulled off a shock 2-1 scoreline in their first top-flight match in December 2015. Rashford stole the three points in last term's corresponding fixture, with his 92nd-minute winner proving decisive after Bournemouth nearly played the Red Devils off the pitch in the opening 45 minutes but were only on level terms.
Updated October 31, 2019