3 Key Battles That Could Decide The Midweek Encounter Between Manchester United And Bournemouth

Manchester United are set to welcome Bournemouth to Old Trafford on Wednesday in what is set to be a pivotal juncture in their season.

After a loss against cross-town rivals Manchester City, United will look to bounce back with a strong win in order to keep their hopes of title glory alive.

Bournemouth have had a roller-coaster ride so far this season and will look to put in a strong performance against a United side that have struggled themselves. 

Here are three key battles that could decide the clash.

3. Jermain Defoe vs David de Gea

Jermain Defoe is coming off what looked like his best performance of the season which included the forward scoring a nominee for goal of the season. 

Meanwhile David de Gea has been in great form for United, particularly his spectacular performance against Arsenal where he broke the record for most saves in a game. He will be eager to continue playing at a high level, proving game after game why he deserves to be in the conversation for the best keeper in football.

Ultimately the result on Wednesday may come down to whether the Englishman can figure out how to score against United's shot stopper. The battle will be tense as Defoe can seemingly create goals from nothing but will have a huge task in trying to get one over on the Spaniard.

2. Romelu Lukaku vs Nathan Ake

Jose Mourinho's number nine has struggled for goals in recent games, being kept quiet by both Arsenal and Manchester City. Some credit this to the thought that the Belgian forward disappears in important games for the Reds, however, at times it seems as though there is a lack of service for United's record transfer player.

Going into the midweek encounter, Lukaku will be eager to get his campaign back up and running meaning that Bournemouth's defence, most importantly Nathan Ake, will need to be on their toes to ensure that the forward does not receive the necessary space to pose a threat.

Ake has been a solid contributor since his arrival from Chelsea on a record transfer but will need to be on top of his game to stop the former Everton man from doing damage to his side.

1. Jose Mourinho vs Eddie Howe

Arguably the most important battle of the day will be the tactical dual between managers Jose Mourinho and Eddie Howe.

Bournemouth  are no strangers to an upset and could pose a legitimate threat to United who may face their second home defeat in a row, after City ended their streak of 40 games unbeaten at Old Trafford. 

Howe may use the opportunity of facing this United side as a platform to display why he is one of the countries best young managers.

However, Mourinho is already established as one of the best managers in football and will be keen to avenge his previous league loss with a strong home performance as United look to face an uphill battle for the league title.