Alan Dudman previews Saturday's lunchtime kick-off in the Premier League, and is backing Manchester United to pick up the points at Bournemouth....
Bournemouth v Manchester United Saturday, 12:30 Live on BT Sport 1 and BT Sport Ultimate
A good week for United and Ole
With three wins in the space of a week, all away from home, Manchester United are in better shape since the two dour performances against AZ Alkmaar and Newcastle, although they still look a club caught between their past and future.
Last weekend's 1-3 triumph at Norwich City was their first away victory of the season, which moved the Red Devils to seventh. So not quite the doom and gloom that was suggested. Indeed, manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer pinpointed the decent performance against Liverpool in the 1-1 that kick-started their mini-run. Solskjaer places a lot of faith in confidence and momentum.
United are still a million miles away from being a top side, but last week's victory at Carrow Road was a bit more like a United team on the counter-attack - ie, fast, fleet of foot and dangerous. Although I would have fancied my chances against a somewhat shambolic Norwich defence.
They created 21 shots last Saturday and backed up with a 1-2 Carabao Cup success at Chelsea on Tuesday. Solskjaer fielded a strong team for that, where as Liverpool and Arsenal made wholesale changes for their epic. However, it's that momentum word again, and United have it.
Cherries in danger of losing their mojo
The 'm' word cannot be attached to Eddie Howe's Bournemouth. I have often pinned them down, especially a team at home, that likes to attack but can concede a few goals.
Going into the Norwich match recently, they hadn't kept a clean sheet all season (neither had the Canaries) - which made the 0-0 even more puzzling. The market got the Under 2.5 Goals totally wrong.
The lack of excitement continued last Saturday with another 0-0 - this time against a pretty dull Watford team. The Cherries had 60% of the ball but created very little. And that was against a team without a win since April.
Howe said recently: "We don't normally struggle to score," so it's a worry they have failed to find the back of the net in their last three Premier League matches.
The fact they struggled to break down the paper-thin Norwich backline is a worry, and it's real Jekyll and Hyde stuff from them this season.
Money for Red Devils this week - but still worth backing
In Bournemouth's current state, I doubt there will be a queue to take the 3.40 on offer for victory here. United have proved to be quite popular, though. Their price was 2.40 on Wednesday, yet 24 hours later had been backed into 2.20. That's quite a shift in a football market, and there could be more movement before the Saturday lunchtime start.
The 2.40 odds are an interesting starting point. Norwich were that sort of price at home to Villa, yet were hammered 1-5. Leicester were chalked up at similar odds at 2.42 for last Friday's trip to Southampton - and won 0-9. On one occasion the market was spot-on, on the other.....well, less so.
I think around 6/4 for an away side presents a bit of indecision - so it's encouraging if you are weighing in with United here, that they have been backed.
My feet are firmly in the 'to back' camp, as the Reds simply look a much better team with Anthony Martial in the line-up. The MOTD 2 stats were very revealing last Sunday - showing that with the French striker starting in the team, they have won 77% of their games compared to just 28% without. They also average 2.3 goals per game when he starts, opposed to 1.1 without.
Stats don't lie. Nor do the eyes. Martial's link-up play with Marcus Rashford was superb against Norwich, and Rashford looks a better player when he can cut in from the flanks into a proper number nine. Their combination play for the third goal against Norwich was beautiful.
Bournemouth are winless in their last seven against United according to Opta, and have won just two of their last 11 home PL matches - which back up my bet here for an away win at around 2.20.
Both can make a punt on the Unders seem realistic
If the Cherries approach the game like their previous two, then there could be some mileage in the Under 2.5 price at a larger 2.10 on offer. However, I am still wiping the egg from my face for suggesting the same bet in the Leicester nine-nil a week ago.
I cannot see Howe going all-out attack in this, especially as confidence is fragile without a win in five. Bournemouth's Callum Wilson got absolutely no service at all versus Watford last Saturday and his goals have dried up completely. After a run of scoring with five consecutive shots, Wilson has failed to score with any of his last eight.
A misfiring striker and a team that aren't creating isn't a recipe for an Overs bet. Or, on the flip side, you can simply lay the shorter price for Over 2.5 Goals at 1.88 - that is certainly a laying figure. Click here to find out more about laying on the Exchange.
My gut instinct with Solskjaer's team is to go for a low-scoring game. Their back-three are slow, so they tend to drop a bit deeper to mask the lack of pace, plus they are more suited to playing on the counter-attack with the speed of Martial, Rashford and the fearless Daniel James - who has been involved in six of United's 13 goals.
The To Score bet with Rashford priced at 2.84 makes a lot of sense given his fine run of form and partnership with Martial. The England forward scored home and away in this fixture last season - including the 90th minute winner. Plus we have the penalties and free-kicks onside with him too.