Manchester United need all three points to stand any chance of claiming the final Champions League spot from under the noses of their cross-city neighbours as they entertain a Bournemouth side who can be happy with their first ever top flight season.
The hosts’ 3-2 defeat in a thrilling midweek encounter at West Ham ended a four-match unbeaten run and took Champions League qualification out of their hands, which has ramped up the pressure ahead of this weekend.
It’s been an odd season for Louis van Gaal’s side – they have not been hugely entertaining but have often ground out results and their home form has remained impressive; only Leicester have claimed more points on their own turf and United have conceded a league-low eight goals at home.
However, their blunt attack has held them back at times; they have scored just 46 goals in the Premier League this season, their lowest total since 1989/90.
Bournemouth’s 2-1 win in the reverse fixture in December was one of the highlights of a successful campaign for the Cherries, who have never been in serious relegation danger in their debut season at this level.
They have been more successful on the road this season than at home, with six wins on the road compared to five in front of their own fans, which will give them hope ahead of a difficult final day assignment at Old Trafford.
Eddie Howe’s men will need to tighten up at the back if they are to progress further next season – only Aston Villa have conceded more than the Cherries’ total of 64 goals in 2015/16.
The hosts will be without Matteo Darmian, Bastian Schweinsteiger and Luke Shaw through injury this weekend, whilst Marouane Fellaini is suspended.
Bournemouth have no fresh injury concerns, but Howe has hinted that he may make some changes for the season’s climax. Adam Smith and Sylvain Distin are both out with injuries.
League Position: Manchester United – 5th (63 pts); Bournemouth – 16th (42 pts)
Previous Meeting: Bournemouth 2-1 Manchester United (December 12, 2015)
Form: Manchester United – LWWDWL; Bournemouth – LWLLLD
Key Men: Manchester United – Anthony Martial; Bournemouth – Matt Ritchie
Shoot Says: Manchester United 3-1 Bournemouth