Sunday, August 14 from 11.30pm at Vitality Stadium, Bournemouth.
Bournemouth: $5 with Sportsbet.com.au
Draw: $3.50 with Sportsbet.com.au
Manchester United: $1.73 with Sportsbet.com.au
MANCHESTER United has Dared to Zlatan and the Premier League’s traditional powerhouse hopes the Swedish striker, along with a prolific transfer window, can help lead it back to the promised land.
First cab off the rank for season 2016-17 is a trip out to Bournemouth, which just managed to avoid the drop last season after winning its way into the Premier League from the Championship.
United has already kicked off what is looking like an ominous campaign by winning the FA Community Shield against reigning EPL champions Leicester City.
The game told very little about United – or Leicester for that matter – but it did feature Ibrahimovic doing what he does best – scoring goals.
After Jesse Lingered put the Red Devils in front with a perfect solo finish, before last year’s second place in the golden boot, Jamie Vardy equalised.
It was left to Zlatan, who moved to United on a free transfer from Paris St Germain in France, to finish things off, his header seven minutes from time proving the difference.
While you feel like the Premier League, at age 34, will be his toughest challenge yet, Ibrahimovic is well placed to score plenty of goals this season.
He has a dynamite strike partner in Wayne Rooney and a midfield that is among the best in the Premier League – especially with the addition of world record $151 million signing Paul Pogba from Juventus in Italy.
And that’s why we like the big Swede to score first in this clash.
Here’s a stat for you – his French Ligue 1 side won the treble last season and he scored a ridiculous 50 goals in that effort.
That’s some strike power.
At $4.20 with Sportsbet.com.au to to strike first in the match If your money feels safe with any one, it has to be Ibrahimovic.
And that’s especially true if you listen to Manchester United’s new ‘Special’ coach Jose Mourinho.
“Zlatan will be more dangerous when we are more dominant and play closest to the box,” Mourinho said.
“Zlatan is not a very fast player to play 50 metres away from the box like where Vardy can be dangerous.
“Zlatan needs the team to play, he needs the team to produce and he needs the team to be arriving in the final third.
”It’s something that we also have to change because the profile of this team was more about possession of the ball.
“Even arriving in crossing positions, the team normally plays back again and tries to change to the other side.
“We are trying to change.”
United has added a ton of depth to the club this season, with powerhouse 23 year old centre back Eric Bailly the first addition, followed by Ibrahimovic, Bundesliga Players’ Player of the Year Henrikh Mkhitaryan and then, of course, Pogba.
Pogba has been hailed as having the potential of being an all time great and, at 23, is only going to get better – he won four straight titles in the four years he was at Juventus – crazy stuff.
Bournemouth should be able to keep their standing in the Premier League this season, with the additions of men like club record transfer Jordan Ibe, but the big gun clubs look beyond them, even at home.
They lost five of their last eight games in the Premier League last season and, while they should be up for the challenge in the season opener, we can’t see them getting close to the Red Devils.
Bournemouth does have a quintet of new signings of their own, headlined by Ibe from Liverpool and manager Eddie Howe wants to “take all of these boys to new levels.”
“We have always traditionally brought in young talent, moulded them and worked with them and made them better,” Howe said.
His young charged will have their work cut out for them against Manchester United.
First goal scorer predictions
Zlatan Ibrahimovic ($4.20 with Sportsbet.com.au)
Jordan Ibe ($15 with Sportsbet.com.au)
Match result: Manchester United to win ($1.73 with Sportsbet.com.au)
Correct match score: Manchester United 3-0 ($13 with Sportsbet.com.au)
Total match goals: Over 2.5 ($2.01 with Sportsbet.com.au)
The $1.73 about Manchester United feels very inflated to us. Last season ended up being a write off, they were out of contention a long way out from home and ended up sacking their manager. The addition of The Special One, along with a plethora of quality summer signings should see them well in the title mix this season. And that should start with an easy win against Bournemouth. Mourinho has often been critiqued for sacrificing attractive football for that winning feeling and the United fans will have no worries with that, provided he is hoisting the trophy at the end of the season. Don’t let Mourinho’s defensive-mindedness worry you, this United side has enough talent and flair to pick apart even the best defences and that is why we really like the better than even money about the over 2.5 goals.
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