Seeking to strengthen their grip on a top-four finish in the Premier League, Manchester United travel to the Vitality Stadium to face Bournemouth on Saturday.
The two teams experienced contrasting results last time out, with the Red Devils securing a two-goal win over Wolverhampton Wanderers and the Cherries losing by the same margin against Crystal Palace.
Twelve months on from securing promotion back to the Premier League, Bournemouth have proven many people wrong by cementing their status in the top flight this season, despite suffering back-to-back defeats in their last two matches against Chelsea and Crystal Palace.
A 3-1 home defeat against the Blues was followed by a 2-0 loss at Selhurst Park last weekend, with an Eberechi Eze brace helping the Eagles to come out on top against a Cherries side who failed to register a single shot on target.
Gary O’Neil deserves plenty of credit for keeping Bournemouth up this season, with his side currently sitting 14th in the table and eight points clear of the drop zone, but the Cherries boss – who turned 40 on Thursday – will be keen to end the campaign on a high and claim positive results from their final two fixtures at home against Man United and away to Everton.
Bournemouth have history when it comes to going out with a bang on home soil as they have won their final game at the Vitality Stadium in three of their last five Premier League seasons, although they did suffer a 2-0 defeat to Southampton in their most recent final home fixture in 2019-20.
The Cherries have in fact struggled in front of their own fans in recent weeks, as they have lost three of their last four home matches by an aggregate score of 10-1. However, a slender 1-0 victory was secured the last time that they welcomed Man United to the South coast in November 2019, courtesy of a first-half strike from former Red Devil Joshua King.
After suffering two disappointing 1-0 away defeats to Brighton & Hove Albion and West Ham United courtesy of a 99th-minute penalty and a David de Gea howler, Man United returned to winning ways with a routine 2-0 home victory over Wolves last weekend.
Anthony Martial ended his eight-game goal drought by opening the scoring midway through the first half, before Alejandro Garnacho came off the bench to seal the win in second-half stoppage time – no Premier League player has scored more goals than the teenage Argentine (three) as a substitute this season.
Man United’s 20th top-flight win of the campaign has moved them onto 66 points from 35 games, already eight points more than last season, and they remain fourth in the table as things stand, sitting just one place and one point above an in-form Liverpool outfit who have played a game more.
Securing Champions League football for next season is Erik ten Hag’s sole focus as the Red Devils head into their final three league fixtures, but that task has been made tougher due to their poor away record in recent months – accumulating just eight points on the road from their last 27 available since the turn of the year.
Man United lost their final away league match of last season, suffering a 1-0 defeat at Crystal Palace, but they can be confident of success on Saturday having won eight of their last 11 Premier League meetings with Bournemouth, including a 3-0 victory in the reverse fixture at Old Trafford in January.
Bournemouth boss O’Neil has revealed that Antoine Semenyo is set to miss the rest of the season with an unspecified injury, while Hamed Traore (foot), Marcus Tavernier (hamstring), Ryan Fredericks (calf) and Junior Stanislas (unspecified) all remain on the sidelines.
Kieffer Moore recovered from concussion to make the matchday squad last weekend and the striker will be pushing to start either alongside or as a replacement for Dominic Solanke following the Cherries’ powder-puff attacking display against Palace.
Chris Mepham was handed a start at right-back last time out, but he could be replaced by Adam Smith this weekend, while Lewis Cook will push Joe Rothwell for a start in centre-midfield alongside Jefferson Lerma and Philip Billing.
As for Man United, Marcel Sabizter has been ruled out for the rest of the season with a knee injury and the Bayern Munich loanee joins Lisandro Martinez (foot), Donny van de Beek, Phil Jones (both knee) and Tom Heaton (ankle) in the treatment room.
However, Ten Hag has been boosted by the return of both Marcus Rashford and Scott McTominay to team training this week, and the Red Devils duo could be in contention to feature against Bournemouth.
Both Rashford and Garnacho are set to push Jadon Sancho for a start on the left flank, while Martial is expected to continue as the central striker ahead of Wout Weghorst.
Raphael Varane recovered from injury to start against Wolves and the centre-back is likely to retain his place alongside Victor Lindelof, while Ten Hag will ponder selecting either Aaron Wan-Bissaka or Diogo Dalot at right-back, the latter of whom watched on as an unused substitute against Wolves.
Bournemouth possible starting lineup:
Neto; Smith, Zabarnyi, Kelly, Vina; Ouattara, Lerma, Rothwell, Christie; Billing; Solanke
Manchester United possible starting lineup:
De Gea; Wan-Bissaka, Varane, Lindelof, Shaw; Casemiro, Eriksen; Antony, Fernandes, Rashford; Martial