It’s the most wonderful time of the year, Premier League football is back, and it promises to be better than ever. In Manchester United’s first match, they travel to Dean Court to play Bournemouth, where they suffered an upsetting 2-1 defeat last year. Bournemouth has been welcomed with the signings of some promising talents this season, as has United, and these talents promise to make the season and the match all the more exciting. Can United gain one back on Eddie Howe’s Bournemouth side? Who will start the game for United? Here’s what our writers predict will happen in this exciting encounter.
Steven Custons: It’s finally here. It’s what we’ve all been waiting for, the start of the new Premier League season. A lengthy trip to the south coast awaits Jose Mourinho as he takes charge of his new-look Manchester United side for the first time in a competitive fixture (let’s be honest, the Community Shield is a glorified friendly). As a United fan, this summer has been perfect. Four top quality signings all brought in on the eve of the new season, Mourinho has his men and can now start building his team. I reckon it’ll be too early to include Paul Pogba in the match-day squad let alone the starting eleven. He hasn’t kicked a ball since losing the European Championship final with France on July 10th, with that being said, here’s my prediction as to who should start on Sunday.
Starting XI: De Gea, Valencia, Bailly, Blind, Shaw; Carrick, Herrera; Martial, Rooney, Lingard, Ibrahimovic
Chris Smalling is suspended for the trip to Bournemouth due to his red card in the FA Cup final in May, therefore Daley Blind must continue in defence for me. As I previously mentioned, I think the game will come too soon for Pogba and I can’t see Mourinho picking Marouane Fellaini after his error last weekend so I’ve gone for Michael Carrick and Ander Herrera in the middle. I also reckon Jesse Lingard will get the nod after his wonderful Wembley strike in the Community Shield against Leicester last Sunday.
Bournemouth 0-2 Manchester United
Elton Wolf: For Sunday’s game against AFC Bournemouth, I’m expecting Jose Mourinho to be ruthless from the get go and let the league know that Manchester United are officially back. I believe the players will be looking for goals and set the correct tone for the start of the season. I expect to see only one change to the team that faced Leicester City in the Community Shield final, with Ander Herrera coming on for Marouane Fellaini. Jose Mourinho must show he doesn’t accept lethal mistakes, and that will come as a lesson for Fellaini. Moreover, many discussed how slow Rooney and Ibrahimovic looked together, I believe with Herrera in the side the speed of the game will increase.
Starting XI: De Gea; Valencia, Bailly, Blind, Shaw; Carrick, Herrera, Lingard, Rooney, Martial; Ibrahimovic
Manchester United finally have a threatening side with powerful players who are able to come out from the bench as well. Henrikh Mkhitaryan will soon get his opportunity to start for United, but for the time being I cannot see Jesse Lingard being substituted after his latest performance. I expect the game to finish at 0-2. Record signing Paul Pogba doesn’t seem to be in his best shape after getting a good rest, but wouldn’t be surprised if Mourinho gave him a couple of minutes to show United fans the world-class player we have brought back to the club. Lastly I hope to see Marcus Rashford continue to have a run of games and continue gaining experience.
Bournemouth 0-2 Manchester United
Matt Henderson: Oh it feels very good to be back. The Community Shield is counted as a competitive game, but it really isn’t all that much and so for the league campaign to roll around again is just the best news ever. I think it will be a successful start also, Jose Mourinho knows the league and has a point to prove after his Chelsea ordeal last time round. As such I expect the cobwebs to be blown off and a much more pleasing style of play against Bournemouth. Goalscorers, well there is finally a copious amount on offer. Anyone of Ibrahimovic, Rooney, Rashford, Martial, Lingard, Pogba and Mkhitaryan are capable but I think the most likely will be Ibrahimovic and Lingard on current form. I expect United to line up as so;
Starting XI: De Gea; Valencia, Blind, Bailly, Shaw; Pogba, Carrick; Lingard, Rooney, Martial; Ibrahimovic
One change from the side that best Leicester seems the most logical although my personal preference would be Herrera in for Carrick for the pace he would provide in the middle. It feels nice to be genuinely optimistic going into both a season and a game, so to reflect this I’m going for a big prediction.
Prediction: Bournemouth 0-3 Manchester United
Aaron Moniz: My excitement for the Premier League season is so great that it has declined my interest in the Olympics, but United has a tougher challenge than most believe with Bournemouth. To start the game, I fancy de Gea to continue in goal, and with Chris Smalling suspended and Antonio Valencia in-form the defence picks itself. Marouane Fellaini was poor in midfield against Leicester, and I’d like to see Morgan Schneiderlin with Ander Herrera in midfield but it seems unlikely with the former’s fitness. With Daley Blind in defence and Paul Pogba not ready, Carrick and Herrera should start in midfield. Moving forward, Wayne Rooney was, once again, poor, and he should be replaced by Henrikh Mkhitaryan- but that won’t happen, so expect Mkhitaryan to replace in-form Jesse Lingard.
Starting XI: De Gea; Valencia, Bailly, Blind, Shaw; Carrick, Herrera; Mkhitaryan, Rooney, Martial; Ibrahimovic
United should win the match but I doubt there will be a clean sheet away from home. Bournemouth is a tricky side and will pursue Bailly and Blind the way they did when they beat United last year on their ground. The great thing about United’s defence this year is that it will only get better- there is so much more to see from the likes of Luke Shaw, Eric Bailly, Chris Smalling, Matteo Darmian and Daley Blind, all of whom are talented and can improve together. For now, though, I see a small mistake leading to the concession of a goal.
Prediction: Bournemouth 1-2 Manchester United
Note: This article was written before the announcement of Paul Pogba’s suspension.