Match preview: Manchester United vs Bournemouth

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As Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s Manchester United side return to Old Trafford on Sunday afternoon (16:30) to take on Bournemouth, the legendary interim manager faced the press on Friday morning at Carrington. Following the reds’ 3-1 victory at home to Huddersfield Town on boxing day, Solskjaer admits that he’s given his players a bit of a rest period following the win:

“We’ve not had a lot of training since, so we had yesterday off. Today’s (Friday) the first day back, Romelu, Anthony and Alexis can hopefully take part in training this morning.

Solskjaer also provided a quick update on Chris Smalling’s injury: “Smalling’s got a sore foot, so I dont think we’ll see him until the new year, anyway. Maybe not even before the Spurs game, around that time. So we’ll never know.”

When asked about his quick-impact at the reigns of Old Trafford in just a week in charge, Solskjaer went on to say: “There are things that we need to improve on, and we’re in this position for a reason. We’ve not been consistent enough, we’ve not been able to keep clean sheets, we haven’t scored enough goals, and we’ve conceded two goals from set pieces now, I feel that our open-play defending has been good, but we need to get back into the habit of not conceding goals, but there’s loads of things. In a football team, you always look at different things to improve on, but as I said, I’m coming in from the outside, It’s hard to make a difference, my job has been to speak to the players, to get to know their feelings, and their confidence levels and the way they’re feeling about their own situations, because everyone has a responsibility to improve.”

Solskjaer’s side have found the net eight times in their last two matches, and have registered 33 goal attempts in those two victories over Cardiff City and Huddersfield Town. but, with there being eight points seperating United and Chelsea in fourth position, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side will be looking to continue to find the net against Eddie Howe’s side on Sunday afternoon in front of a packed Old Trafford.

In terms of team selection, Solskjaer didn’t give too much away in his press conference on Friday, and I can certainly see the line-up being much the same as it was against Huddersfield Town on boxing day. But as Solskjaer said, Anthony Martial, Romelu Lukaku and Alexis Sanchez have returned to training, so their return to action shouldn’t be too far away.

As for the visitors, I certainly expect Eddie Howe to ring the changes following their 5-0 defeat away to Spurs at Wembley. I expect Josh King to line-up against his old side on Sunday. Also, Jermaine Defoe and Jordan Ibe could also feature at Old Trafford as they were relegated to the bench in that 5-0 defeat at Wembley. Cook, Francis, Gosling and Smith have been declared unable to play at Old Trafford.

In Manchester United’s last five competitive matches, there’s been at least one goal scored in the last ten minutes. Only one side has scored in Bournemouth’s last five matches in all competitions, but that could all change on Sunday as Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side are most certainly playing the most attacking football that we-ve seen post-Ferguson.

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