Manchester United resumes their Premier League journey after being knocked out of the Champions League in the group stage. They were not at their best even in their previous game against the Hammers and will have to get their act right if they want to launch a realistic title challenge. More than a quarter of the season is over and the table is starting to take shape. This would be a bad time to lose yet another game and will face a tough challenge from Eddie Howe’s AFC Bournemouth side when the two teams face each other on Saturday.
One of the many growing concerns for the United manager has been their injury list. He has lost a number of key players and is expected to field a relatively weaker side against the newly promoted Cherries. Here is the strongest XI that Louis van Gaal can play on Saturday.
David de Gea:
The Spanish shot stopper has been one of the best players for the Red Devils as he has made a number of crucial saves at important times to keep his team in the game. He will start again against Bournemouth.
Matteo Darmian picked up an injury last week and is not available for selection. He will be replaced at the right back position by Varela who is fresh off his first start for the club in the mid-week against Wolfsburg.
Smalling has been the backbone of the United defense but an injury sees him side-lined for this game as Paddy McNair might be given a chance. McNair looked comfortable in the previous matches will have a huge responsibility on his shoulders.
Sticking to his task and not trying anything fancy, Blind has been a good make shift center back who provides enough defensive cover for United. He is at times caught out of position but is generally solid at the back.
Louis van Gaal has poured heaps of praise on the young wing back who has impressed in the few chances he got. The injuries to his squad will allow the player to prove to his manager that he is right up there fighting for a starting spot.
With the absence of Schneiderlin due to injury and Schweinsteiger due to a suspension, United will go with the experienced Michael Carrick who looked superb before picking up an injury. He will be at the centre of the mid-field and will try to control the tempo of the game.
The Belgian has not really thrived under Louis van Gaal since he took over but might get a chance on Saturday in wake of all the injuries. His versatility will help the manager play 2 holding mid-fielders with Fellaini alongside Michael Carrick in front of the back four.
Ashley young has shown glimpses of his talent this season but has not been consistent. He will get another chance on the flank against the Cherries when they travel to Bournemouth on Saturday.
The Spaniard has been one of the best players for United in the final third this season. He is in good form and will play just behind the striker. He will need some support from his team if he wants to take his team to a victory.
The Dutch winger started the Premier League season with a bang but has slowly lost his form and place in the side. He is a very talented player and will surely try to assert his presence on the game.
The young striker has already made some fans at the Old Trafford and has been one of the few positives this season. His ability to run with the ball is a danger to defenses and will surely trouble the Cherries at home.
Louis van Gaal might also be tempted to use just one holding mid-fielder and play two strikers up front. Fellaini will surely give a lot height in the penalty area and will give them greater options. Lingard has also been in good form and may play in the place of Young who might start the game as a wing back. Here is how they may also line-up for the game against AFC Bournemouth.
David de Gea; Varela, Paddy McNair, Daley Blind, Ashley Young; Michael Carrick; Jesse Lingard, Juan Mata, Memphis Depay; Marouane Fellaini, Anthony Martial.
This will be an important game for Manchester United as they will have to get all three points to keep up with the rest of the teams at the top of the table.