United's revenge on Bournemouth hinges on winning three key. . .
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United’s revenge on Bournemouth hinges on winning three key battles.

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3-0. The unexpected scoreline inspired many to name it Erik ten Hag’s worst defeat.

There have been larger margins of defeat, such as the 7-0 loss to Liverpool, but the way in which Manchester United collapsed at home against a team that just survived relegation a year ago was perplexing.

United travel to Bournemouth, the same team that produced that nadir, to try to reclaim some pride.

The Champions League qualification fight appears to be over, thus the rest of the season will be spent winning as many games as possible, preferably including the FA Cup.

Here are the key themes that will decide the fate of this game vs Bournemouth-

Press, press, and press

It’s a devastating statement, but with Andoni Iraola, Bournemouth appear to be getting closer to Ten Hag’s vision for United in half the time.

They press like machines, sensing triggers and virtually acting as a “extra man” on the sidelines. Dominic Solanke’s opening goal in the opposite game was the outcome of that sustained press.

They press high but immediately withdraw into a low block if initial attempts fail, resulting in no sea of space between the attack and midfield, which has plagued United on numerous occasions.

In Bournemouth’s cauldron-like stadium, they will start quickly, and United may be forced to play long and over their press.

Otherwise, an early goal by Iraola’s men might bring back memories of the past.

Dominic Solanke vs Willy Kambwala

Hojlund’s hot streak in January has cooled, and he has become increasingly isolated within this structure, or lack thereof. Solanke, on the other hand, is having the finest premier league scoring season of his career.

Solanke has already harmed United once, and his ability to participate in the game even when he isn’t scoring distinguishes him as a multifaceted threat.

Willy Kambwala effectively navigated the baptism of fire when he started against Liverpool and performed admirably. Solanke will give a fresh challenge and will almost certainly target him rather than Harry Maguire.

If the Frenchman can manage Solanke as well as he did Liverpool’s strikers, particularly Darwin Nunez, he will go a long way toward proving himself as more than simply a last-ditch option when United are injured.

Milos Kerkez vs Antony

If Marcus Rashford is unable to overcome his injury and play this game, a front three of Garnacho, Hojlund, and Antony is expected. In that case, Antony would face Milos Kerkez, a Hungarian left-back who has adapted well to the Premier League.

Kerkez has piqued United’s interest. On the other hand, Antony is beginning to take shape.

This promises to be an intriguing tussle as Antony attempts to drag Kerkez inside with him, providing space for United’s right-back to overlap.

On the other hand, Kerkez is a solid progressive passer who frequently splits lines with his passes, something United lacks in Luke Shaw this season. A strong performance here could result in an audition for the Hungarian to play the role at Old Trafford next season!

 

 

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