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Man United v Bournemouth: Zlatan and co ready to return to the top four

| 03.03.2017

This weekend’s Premier League action begins at Old Trafford, where newly-crowned EFL Cup champions Manchester United host Bournemouth.

And our odds of 1/4 on Jose Mourinho’s men picking up three points suggest this should be a fairly straightforward encounter.

Victory will also see United return to the top-four for the first time since September.

Eddie Howe’s Bournemouth are very much the outsiders at 11/1, and as we highlighted earlier this week, the Cherries are woefully out of form.

Having picked up just one point from their last six games, the south coast club are being sucked into a relegation scrap.

And they’re unlikely to find much joy at Old Trafford, with the Red Devils unbeaten at home since September while they’ve been beaten just once in any competition in their last 26 fixtures.

The main problem for United this season has been scoring goals, with the Reds netting 12 times fewer than any other top-six side.

But Bournemouth have conceded two or more in 12 of their last 14 fixtures, so backing the hosts on the -1 handicap at 8/11 should return better value than outright WDW.

And when you note that the Cherries have let in at least three goals in all of their visits to top-six sides this term, it may also be worth backing Mourinho’s men -2 at 7/4.

Of further concern for Howe is that they’re conceding early, and haven’t made it to half-time with a clean sheet in five of their last six.

Indeed they haven’t lasted 10 minutes in any of their last three games, which points us to a Man United/Man United Half-Time/Full-Time Double at 8/11.

Though we alluded to United’s goal-shy issues, one man has consistently come up trumps for the Reds, and of course, that’s Zlatan Ibrahimovic.

His EFL Cup-winning double took the Swede’s tally to 26 for the season, and with 15 of those coming in the league, it’s 11/5 he nets the opener.

But if it’s not Zlatan who breaks the deadlock, then more often than not Juan Mata is the man.

The Spaniard has already scored first four times in the league this season, making the 11/2 on him to do so again very tempting.

Bournemouth’s hopes will rest on Josh King, who has netted each of the Cherries’ last three goals, and four of their last five.

A former Man United youth player, King made just one senior appearance for the club, but is 12/1 to net first and remind them what they may have missed out on.

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Richard Marsh

Richard loves his sport, especially if it involves the sound of tyres screaming around a race track. He's not fussy though and his '90s Premier League nostalgia and knowledge of team nicknames is tough to match.