Bournemouth welcome the Premier League champions on the back of a heavy defeat to Arsenal midweek. The 5-1 loss at the Emirates Stadium meant that in their last seven games against sides in the top six, The Cherries have lost six of them by a margin of two goals or more – the solitary victory they picked up from this period was the 4-0 win over Chelsea.
This doesn’t bode well for Eddie Howe’s men ahead of the visit of a Man City side who have won 22 Premier League games this season, 17 of them by a margin of at least two goals.
With just one point from their last four games, we don’t see Bournemouth nicking anything from this one, particularly if Raheem Sterling plays. With 10 goals to his name, the City winger has found the net more times against Bournemouth than he has against any other club in his career, making them his favourite opposition. Now that’s what we call a Sterling return from just eight appearances.
The only thing going for the hosts is the fact they’re unbeaten in their last five games at Dean Court, but we don’t think that will be relevant here and like the look of the Sterling-City anytime wincast.
Romelu Lukaku put an end to a six-game goal drought in the Premier League as he scored two goals during United’s blitz of Crystal Palace midweek, so we’re convinced Ole Gunnar Solskjær is a managerial genius. Anybody that can get a £75 million misfiring striker to do what they were signed to do is not to be trifled with.
Also, those goals made Lukaku the joint-20th top goalscorer in Premier League history alongside Homes Under the Hammer host Dion Dublin, so fair dues — you’re in exalted company now, pal.
While Solskjaer’s Premier League record in the United hotseat is nine wins and two draws from 11 matches, the Red Devils still find themselves one point adrift of fourth-placed Arsenal. United will be eager to avoid a repeat of the last meeting between the sides: the Saints nicked a point off United at St. Mary’s in December in what proved to be Mark Hughes’ last game in charge.
Granted, that result came at the tail end of those dark José Mourinho days which nobody in Manchester talks about anymore…unless you support Man City and are in dire need of a giggle.
Under the guidance of Ralph Hasenhüttl, Southampton started the year with a five-game unbeaten run, but then lost back-to-back matches against relegation rivals Cardiff and the Gunners. While they momentarily lifted themselves from the dropzone with a vital 2-0 win over Fulham midweek, we reckon United drag them back down to earth with a win of two goals or more this weekend.
Before this one, the Cardiff City manager described his players as being “in the trenches” and the only way Neil WARnock (get it?) could be more right would be if he dug some literal trenches around their home ground and started lobbing grenades at Sol Bamba. An explosive reaction is certainly required if the Welsh side are going to blast their way of their current slump.
The ease with which Cardiff came unstuck against a struggling Everton midweek is alarming. That result coupled with Southampton’s victory over Fulham meant the Saints and the Bluebirds traded places in the table, pushing Cardiff into the relegation zone and undoing the good work of a 2-1 win recorded against Ralph Hasenhüttl’s side earlier this month.
Cardiff travel to Molineux Stadium having conceded eight goals in their last two games; their only hope going into this one is that Wolves slipped up against a club in an even more precarious state midweek. Nuno Espirito Santo watched his players get turned over by bottom of the table Huddersfield thanks to a late sucker-punch —Wolves’ first defeat in eight games in all competitions.
While the Welsh side may have won the first meeting between these two at home in November, we expect Wolves to reassert their claim for the coveted ‘best of the rest’ trophy with a return to winning ways.
The Seagulls were mauled by the Foxes midweek as Chris Hughton’s side fell victim to the classic case of sh*te players performing class after getting their manager the sack. If only Leicester had gotten rid of Claude Puel a week later, Brighton probably would have won the game. Instead, they remain without a league victory since the turn of the year and hover just two points above the drop zone.
Fine margins and all that.
Huddersfield, meanwhile, found themselves in the Mounie midweek thanks to the Huddersfield striker’s late winner against Wolves which ended a run of 15 games without victory for the Terriers. It’s true what they say, every dog has its day — now it’s just a question of whether it’s too little, too late for Jan Siewert’s side given that it was the first time he oversaw a win as Huddersfield boss.
Brighton took the spoils when these two teams met at Kirklees Stadium before Christmas, but given that Huddersfield are on an upper and Brighton are just meandering aimlessly from one game to the next, we reckon both sides are nicely poised to just bash off each other to no avail and force a draw.
*Prices correct a time of publishing