8.44am EDT 08:44 14 min: Callum Wilson tears down the left. He crosses long for Lerma, who prepares to shoot from the edge of the box. But the ball takes an age to drop, and by the time he’s pelting it goalwards, Maguire is right in his face to block. Harry Wilson tries to keep
14 min: Callum Wilson tears down the left. He crosses long for Lerma, who prepares to shoot from the edge of the box. But the ball takes an age to drop, and by the time he’s pelting it goalwards, Maguire is right in his face to block. Harry Wilson tries to keep the move going, but turns out the chance is gone.
12 min: Fred is down, having taken an accidental whack in the face by Billing. Poor Phil. He’s up and about again soon enough.
10 min: You can’t blame them for slipping and sliding all over the shop, mind. It is a thoroughly rank day. The rain is sheeting down.
8 min: For the third time, already, James rips down the right. He loops long for Fred, who makes like Pereira did a few minutes back. If United’s midfielders stop falling over, someone’s going to connect soon and belt one into the net.
7 min: James goes on another unchallenged run down the right. Where’s Rico? James lays off for Pereira, who lashes a high, wild shot over the bar from a tight angle.
6 min: Callum Wilson surges through the middle and tries to release Harry Wilson down the left. His ball down the flank isn’t bad, but it’s anticipated by Wan-Bissaka who intercepts and sets United off on the counter. Martial has a whack from distance, but the shot dribbles into Ramsdale’s arms.
5 min: United look confident. That’s what three away wins on the spin can do. They’re pinging it around nicely. Crisp, speedy and fresh. Bournemouth can’t get a sniff at the minute.
3 min: Martial plays a lovely ball around the corner to set James skittering down the right. James cuts a lovely low ball back for Pereira, who misses his kick from the edge of the box and falls over, aquaplaning across the wet turf. Slapstick stuff, but that was a lovely incisive move by United, performed at breakneck speed.
2 min: All a bit scrappy in the early stages, as both sets of players find their feet and get used to the conditions.
And we’re off! United get the ball rolling. A cracking atmosphere on the south coast, despite the awful weather. It’s teeming down. And the wind’s up too. Not an ideal day for defenders. And immediately a long punt by Ramsdale confuses Maguire. Fortunately for the big man, the flag goes up for offside, Callum Wilson having gone far too early.
The teams are out! Bournemouth wear their stylish Milan-inspired red-and-black stripes, forcing United into a change strip of what looks suspiciously like ecru, a shade made famous by the likes of Robbie Fowler, Stan Collymore and Jason McAteer. I know United’s travails post-Fergie have been compared to Liverpool’s early-to-mid-90s decline, but this is taking things to extremes. Whatever next? Cream suits? What a pretty pass. Anyway, it’s lashing down at Dean Court. We’ll be off in a minute, after a moment’s silent reflection ahead of Remembrance Day.
… and now BT Sport talk to Eddie Howe. “Unlike us, we’ve not been at our best in the attacking third in the last three games. Hopefully that’ll change today while we keep the defensive solidity that’s served us well. We’re going to need everybody to get a result against Manchester United, the crowd, the players. We’ll have to manage the conditions. Starting well is really important. We’re certainly looking forward to the game.”
A pre-match chat with Ole. “It’s not been as bad as everyone thought it has been, and it’s probably not as great as everyone thinks it is now. You just have to be focused and take your chances. At the moment we’re confident. We have loads of running power and pace, we’ll create chances against any team. Bournemouth have top centre forwards and good delivery down either side. We need to defend properly, and we need to start well.”
Just the one change to the Bournemouth team that served up a goalless draw with Watford last weekend. Harry Wilson comes in for Arnaut Groeneveld.
Manchester United meanwhile are in if-it-ain’t-broke mode. They name the same XI sent out to beat Norwich City 3-1 last Sunday.
Bournemouth: Ramsdale, Smith, Steve Cook, Ake, Rico, Fraser, Lerma, Billing, Harry Wilson, Callum Wilson, King.
Subs: Boruc, Francis, Solanke, Danjuma, Lewis Cook, Kelly, Mepham.
Manchester United: de Gea, Wan Bissaka, Lindelof, Maguire, Young, McTominay, Fred, James, Andreas Pereira, Rashford, Martial.
Subs: Mata, Lingard, Rojo, Romero, Greenwood, Garner, Williams.
Referee: Chris Kavanagh (Lancashire).
That was a hell of a seven days for Manchester United. Wins at Partizan Belgrade! Norwich! And Chelsea! Having waited since early March for an away win, that little burst of success registered a perfect ten on the Guardian’s patented London Bus-o-meter™. Not only that, it puts an end to talk of UNITED IN CRISIS! Seeing the last time UNITED were IN CRISIS! was the autumn of 1989, all this suggests UNITED aren’t scheduled to be in CRISIS! again until mid-2049 (English civil wars and global water levels notwithstanding). Phew. Some time and space for Ole Gunnar Solskjaer to do his job in peace, then!
Expectation has been revived by this recent form, not least because Marcus Rashford and Anthony Martial are clicking. United have suddenly remembered how good it feels to score more than one goal in a game. History is also on their side today: they’ve won their last four matches against Bournemouth. United are thus expected to make it four wins on the bounce, and keep climbing back towards their accustomed habitat, the upper echelons of the Premier League table.
Will the Cherries oblige? Eddie Howe’s team haven’t won for over a month, since beating Southampton, against whom, well, y’know. Since then, they’ve been knocked out of the League Cup by Burton Albion, and are currently on a three-match run without a single, solitary goal, stretching back to September 28. On the flip side, they can point to their current position in the top half of the Premier League table, and that both their points and goals-for tallies (13 and 13) are exactly the same as today’s more illustrious visitors. And as United have themselves shown, all bad runs come to an end at some point.
A goal-fest doesn’t, on balance, look likely. But who knows in football? You can thank us for tempting fate when they start flying in at both ends. It’s on!
Kick off: 12.30pm GMT.